My bigger challenge in USA is language barrier. Even after, a year here, I very often face difficulty to communicate. I did not grow up listening American music or watching series, and I did not have enough learning opportunities during my youth. From 30’s it is getting hardier. Ironically, I was invited to share with a high school class of Spanish speakers how I am dealing with this challenging situation.
First of all, I recognize that I have that weakness. Usually, I warn people that I am learning English, in case they don’t understand me, I don’t mind repeating or rephrasing. Secondly, I listen carefully, making sure that I have comprehended correctly. But it no always happens, and best thing to do is to ask for clarification, and don’t be afraid to raise questions as many time it is necessary. Watching people speak also help me to add new words, expressions or entire phrases to my vocabulary. In addition, to be better English speaker I expose myself to the local culture, and in my case every night I watch short videos, news or movies.
But, my big fear is public speech. I don’t feel confident in speaking and add to that the natural nervousness of being on the stage. I might not be the right person to advice on that situation, but being calm by pay attention to the respiration, speak slowly and training are good tips. Other strategy that works for me is what I am doing right now, writing down what I want to speak. This is good because I already have some words and sentences in my mind, instead to improvise during the presentation. This method I got from a colleague who is a native English speaker.
All this is a lot of effort, but it doesn’t avoid criticism from other, questions faces, laughs, and misunderstandings. Do not let these challenges push you down. Observe your small success. For example, I noticed that I usually pay more attention to my few hard times to explain what I want and mistakes I made than countless successful communications I had through the day.
Finally, speaking a new idiom will be a differential in your personal and professional life. It will help you to connect with people from different nationalities, to share your experiences and feeling, to learn, be friendly and be able to get more opportunities.