I recently interviewed a student for an internship and her English was far from fluent. In fact, she probably made a mistake in every single sentence she spoke.
But you know what?
I didn’t care.
Now, am I more accepting of English mistakes and accents because I work with them on a daily basis? Yes.
But at the same point, I appreciate great communication skills because I know how important they are in business.
So why then, was I able to look past this interviewee’s English skills?
The answer is simple. It was her confidence. This girl was smiling; asking great questions, and didn’t stop even when she made mistakes.
I was IMPRESSED.
She walked into an interview knowing that her English is far from fluent and was still able to let her true personality show through.
I could tell that this interviewee valued every encounter with a native speaker and treated it as a learning experience. She also subconsciously understands the importance of non-verbal communication and uses it to her advantage.
This is an important lesson to anyone trying to learn English and adapt to American culture. If you are confident, determined and have an unstoppable mindset, you can succeed in almost any situation or interview. (you learn how to create this mindset at the Career Leadership Forum)
So now I’m going to give you the top 3 reasons why it doesn’t matter that your English is not fluent.
Reason #1: 80% of communication is NON-VERBAL
I can’t tell you how many countries I have survived in with just hand gestures and a smile. Guess what? It works in the U.S. too.
Sitting up straight, smiling, making eye contact, a firm handshake, facial expressions… they all allow you to bond with someone without ANY words.
Amy Cuddy is the expert on this topic and stresses the importance of learning this skill. I’d suggest watching her Ted Talk on the subject.
Reason #2: Anyone that is annoyed that your English is far from fluent, is not worth your time
You should be interacting with as many Americans as you can. If someone seems annoyed by your non-fluent English skills… he/she isn’t worth your time.
The average person has 100’s of opportunities to speak with new people every day. So if someone doesn’t respect you, say “thank you” and walk away. There are 100’s of other open minded people that will enjoy talking to you.
The fact that you are partially fluent is an accomplishment, so pat yourself on the back for that.
Reason #3: People know you can’t improve without practice
Anyone that has tried to learn a language before understands how hard it is and how much practice it takes to become fluent. (you should hear my mediocre Spanish)
The people I’ve worked with that make the largest improvements in the shortest amount of time, are those who practice daily.
What kind of practice?
Drills at home, speaking in front of a camera, only speaking English at home and talking to random people when out. People at the coffee shop, on the subway, grocery store, the mall, etc.
Here’s a tip to help you commit to doing this daily. Download the app “Commit”. It helps you track the number of days in a row that you actually complete your goal. (http://thinklegend.com/commit/)
You can track different goals to hold yourself accountable. Like:
“I will talk to 5 strangers a day” – (this can even be a simple “hello”) or
“I will practice English grammar for 15 minutes a day”
You will make an enormous improvement if you work on your goals every day. Not only because of the work you are doing, but because your attitude will change. Being able to hold a promise to yourself will unconsciously improve your confidence. I use this app to track business, physical and personal goals.
If you like the idea of practicing English a little bit every day to improve then I would recommend getting the product, Speak Fluent English.
It’s cheap ($25) and provides you with quick lessons that are perfect for daily practice.
Whatever your goals you want to set for yourself, try to make it a year straight and make today Day #1 of 365!
P.S. – Remember how to persuade others to help you? If you know someone that would benefit from this article, share it with them and add value to their life!