Learning a new language is always a big challenge. And itÂ can beÂ made easierÂ orÂ moreÂ difficult depending onÂ yourÂ attitudeÂ and personal experiences.Â YouÂ may feel insecure forÂ manyÂ reasons. Just remember that insecurity only gets in the way. MyÂ ownÂ historyÂ learningÂ the English language is an example of this, which is why I want to shareÂ the story of how I became aÂ UninterÂ Global StudentÂ AmbassadorÂ with you.
I am sure thatÂ speakingÂ inÂ a secondÂ language is not a problem for many people. AndÂ I hope that this is the case for you. But it wasnâ€™t mine. I always studied in public schools. When I started to really learnÂ English, I was alreadyÂ in collegeÂ andÂ had many traumas with the languageÂ in my past.Â EvenÂ with a late start and a sordid history,Â I managed.Â IÂ thinkÂ it is possible forÂ anyone to achieve what I did. In fact,Â Iâ€™dÂ go further: if you donâ€™t make the mistakesÂ about making mistakesÂ that I made, itÂ couldÂ be much easier.
â€œI am sure thatÂ speakingÂ in another language is not a problem for many people. And I hope that this is the case for you. But it wasnâ€™t mine. â€
I wanted to learn all the languages â€‹â€‹in the world from an early age. Unfortunately, studying in a public school, the opportunity came late andÂ started with failure. IÂ beganÂ English classesÂ inÂ 5th grade.Â I didnâ€™t learn much. I arrived at high school with little knowledge of the language. IÂ left there in the same way, but with a lot more traumaÂ fromÂ not understanding anything the teacher said in class. At that time, I tookÂ an entry levelÂ French course taught byÂ language trainees at the school where I was studying. I fell in love with the most romantic language in the worldÂ andÂ decided that I would learn French anyway.
After startingÂ law school andÂ doing a number of volunteerÂ internships, I finally got a paid job. IÂ decided that I would take a French course.Â As much as I lovedÂ the French language, I knew thatÂ English wasÂ the most used in the world andÂ the mostÂ helpful for my career â€” as much asÂ IÂ hadÂ hated my experienceÂ with itÂ at school. I then determined that I wouldÂ studyÂ both languages: French for love and EnglishÂ byÂ obligation.
I stayed in both courses for a little over a year. During that time, IÂ noticed crucial differences in my learning.Â IÂ amÂ sharing them hereÂ so that you donâ€™t make the same mistakes. The first difference was in the levels at which I started each course. I started French at level 1Â because I had very little knowledge. For English,Â I did a placement test. I donâ€™tÂ recallÂ my ideal level, but I remember that the school had no adult classes at that level. They asked me to start the course at the levelÂ above what Iâ€™d tested into. I believe that this difference determined how I would behave in the classroom.Â Â I wasÂ open to learning andÂ toÂ making mistakes in the French class, which wasÂ filled with beginners like me. IÂ closedÂ downÂ andÂ wasÂ scared to death inÂ theÂ English classes.
IÂ couldnâ€™t do much aboutÂ the English levelÂ problem, since the school I chose (the only one I could afford) did notÂ offer my level. But looking back,Â I realize that myÂ attitudeÂ couldÂ haveÂ beenÂ different: I combined my frustration with learning the English languageÂ and the insecurity of being in a place where everyone knew more than I did. Instead of fighting toÂ catch up, I spoke as little as possible to avoid embarrassment. In French classes,Â in contrast, I didnâ€™t mind making mistakes.
â€œLooking back, I realize that my attitude could be different: I combined my frustration with learning the English language and the insecurity of being in a place where everyone knew more than I did. Instead of fighting toÂ catch up, I spoke as little as possible to avoid embarrassment. â€
The biggest differenceÂ was in the way IÂ viewedÂ each language.Â I was learning French because I loved it.Â I tried to learn English out of sheer obligationÂ because I thought it might be important in the future. Donâ€™t get me wrong, it really was important. And I believe that forcing me to learnÂ itÂ was very good. But it wouldÂ have beenÂ even better if IÂ had approachedÂ the language with the sameÂ desire to learn.
When IÂ reached the end ofÂ both courses, I felt that my knowledge of English and French was practically equivalent, but that I had a much easier time expressing myself in French. IÂ thinkÂ this happened because I remained open to speaking (and making mistakes) in FrenchÂ classes, butÂ thought it would be a great shame if I made a mistake in English.
In the following years I was able to improve my English with TV series and films, listening carefully while reading the translation in the subtitles. But more than that: I learned to love English and to want to learn more and more. I believe that this was crucial for me to finally be able to speak English, which only happened now, at the age of 32. I am sure that, if I had adopted thisÂ approachÂ before, I would have learned much faster and without so much suffering.
â€œI learned to love English and to want to learn more and more. I believe that it was crucial for me to finally be able to speak English, which only happened now, at the age of 32. â€
I hope thatÂ my experience highlights toÂ you that it is never too late. Learning a language (or any other subject) is much easier if you remain open to learning and to making mistakes. Knowledge isÂ oftenÂ builtÂ byÂ questioningÂ certainty andÂ breaking withÂ previous beliefs. Trust your ability to learn new things, keep your brain moving and donâ€™t be embarrassed about pursuing growth, no matter how old you are!Â Itâ€™s never too late.