Magazine topic: 
Life around the world
Total votes: 119

Being a native English speaker abroad

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Sometimes it can be great having English as a first language. Being an English speaker can be highly advantageous, and can give you access to opportunities that wouldn’t be available otherwise. It’s a language of business, culture and entertainment, and is officially the most popular language to learn. However, there are also disadvantages of being raised as a native English speaker.

First of all, it can be incredibly difficult to communicate with native speakers of other languages when all they want to do is practise their English. Sometimes they’re just doing it to be helpful, and I appreciate that. However, it doesn’t exactly help the English speaker in the long run. More often than not, the English speaker is deprived of a chance to practise speaking their target language. I am currently living with a native German speaker, who finds it far easier to speak English with me than French. While it’s less stressful to speak English, it certainly isn’t helping my French much.

At first it might seem that English speakers are very confident and outgoing. They might also come across as a bit arrogant, as many English speakers feel no need to learn other languages. However, in my opinion, when it comes to learning other languages, native English speakers are also very shy and reluctant to speak. As a result, they are too afraid to try and learn another language, for fear of looking stupid.

Even when you do speak a foreign language, people will often make demoralising assumptions about you. While this hasn’t happened to me as much as I thought it would after moving abroad, I have experienced a few instances in which people aren’t willing to listen past the English accent. There have been times where someone has explained something to my flatmates in French, only to repeat it again to me in English, despite the fact that I understood pretty much everything they said the first time. I also dread having to ask someone to repeat something, as they will often assume that I speak no French at all and will try to repeat themselves in slow English. Sometimes it’s helpful, sometimes it’s really patronising, and sometimes it’s a bit of both.

On the whole, I’m glad that I can speak English and I’m definitely not ashamed of it. However, being a native English speaker can also have its drawbacks, as strange as it might sound.


Have you ever tried speaking a foreign language abroad? How did you feel and how did people react to you?


Manaly's picture
Manaly 23 July, 2016 - 10:47

I've never studied abroad and this is actually my dream i want to experience the difficulties that might face me cuz of the different culture and language.
Yesterday i was talking to a friend from the UK online and i want to say British accent is elegant and instead i said your accent makes me feel you are spoiled -_- !!
embarrassing he corrected me and notified me that i misused the word and ( spoiled ) i a bad word to use.
Also, in speaking classes we as students should were headphones that are connected to the teacher, we should talking together and our teacher will listen to what we will say. It was me return to talk and when i want to say ( heart ) in my sentence i pronounced it with a very strong ( e ) my teacher though i said ( hurt ) she got confused and didn't know what i want to say hahaha! !
I usually faced many difficulties like this. Thought i got embroidered sometimes but when i remember the situation i lough ;).

30 users have voted.
hadia's picture
hadia 29 July, 2016 - 15:55

Hi Manaly :))
I liked reading your comment :)
Although you're still learning but still you have a very good writing standard :)) I'm sure you'll make up to your deficiencies soon. Just believe in your self and work hard in achieving your desired goals. If your effort continues, you'll be the winner and succeeded. I used to get some problems too, in the start. Like when I used to be in junior classes I wasn't that much fluent but now, I can speak without any effort. That's just because of practice. Increase your practice time and you'll be great in the language. Moreover, whenever I do practice for my speech or presentation, I stand in the front of a mirror and start speaking. I can look at my body language, my deficiencies and speech. So that I can make up to my problems. I hope you'll be great in both speaking and writing soon. Just have enough confidence in yourself.
Best wishes :)

30 users have voted.
Manaly's picture
Manaly 1 August, 2016 - 17:30

Hi hadia, thanks for your comment ❤
first i am sorry for the horrible typos that i had -_-
I recognized them now when i reread my comment.
I am as you .. i used to talk to myself loudly in front of the mirror. I also listen to so many podcasts and repeat with it.
Actually am enjoying with the process of learning even if i make mistakes because this is the only way to learn !
Again so many thanks to you
This is the first time someone discussing my comment with me in this site which makes me so happy ❤

26 users have voted.
hadia's picture
hadia 15 November, 2016 - 16:09

Don't be afraid of writing and typos. That's natural. We are humans, and we make mistakes. I am glad made you feel happy. Keep discussing with others too.
Best of luck :)

19 users have voted.
gianggiang's picture
gianggiang 31 October, 2015 - 23:41

I have never travelled abroad. However, in English classes, we have chances to practise speaking English. I feel very afraid of this because my pronunciation isn't good. My teacher often said that nobody could understand what I was saying except me and I often have to repeat my questions and answers. Speaking E fluently gives you many advantages. However, I read a newspaper and it showed that Japanese, Chinese and Korean people don't care much about E because more and more people started learning their languages and so did Vietnamese teenagers. They learn Korean just because of affections of Hallyu waves and they lean Japanese because Japan is a very potential marketing. Although you are good at E, I ensure when you travel to Japan, lots of comedies will happen if you can't speak a little Japanese. English may be powerless in Japan but it's powerful in Vietnam.

37 users have voted.
GraceW's picture
GraceW 25 June, 2016 - 18:01

Hi Giang!
Your comments are interesting to read! I read most of yours....they are really worth reading! You're really good at writing! You, Hadia, and Elsa seem so friendly! I envy you!
I wish you luck for speaking exams! As Hadia said, believe in yourself and your pronunciation will get better! Just Practice, practice and practice. I am afraid to speak in font of others too. I guess I can't even write long comments! but this site is really helpful and I've gained a lot through it :) It really helped me improve my writing skills :)
Have a good day.

36 users have voted.
hadia's picture
hadia 23 June, 2016 - 17:55

Hi Giang!
Me too! I haven't even traveled abroad. Well......a thoughtful comment :)
It may happen in some countries which don't have E as their first language.... I mean the thing you mentioned in your comment that the person had to search the dictionary several times.....But I guess it's a bad thing!
if he was a high school student he should at least know the basics to speak E...
Here, in my College most of the students know how to speak and talk in E.
When I was in school, last year, we were strictly allowed to have conversation during school times in E
Therefore, it helped me a lot in speaking and improving my language skills....
A;so, I have been representing my College and school in many English Speech and Debate or outside my city.....therefore it has helped me a lot....
Although I'm a good speaker, but normally when I talk with my friends and my family, my mother tongue, Urdu,......I speak very fast!! And my Dad has told me many times that I shouldn't continue my this habit...
Because, it doesn't looks good......people can not even understand what we are saying.... My grandma even scolded me once that I should speak slowly and clearly......Hmp! I guess/ am sure that I speak "Clearly" :)
He he he....
Dear Giang!
Do you speak fast too??
And dear, don't be afraid of vocal!
And you should always be ready to speak during speaking classes'!
I'm always excited to attend such classes...
You Can do it surely, as you're good in E...
Believe in yourself :)
Stay Blessed, Hadia

35 users have voted.
Ken's picture
Ken 9 November, 2015 - 06:34

Hey, giang, interesting comment!
What do you mean by 'lots of comedies' and powerless in Japan? Do you know any examples??

29 users have voted.
gianggiang's picture
gianggiang 9 November, 2015 - 13:18

Hi. Ken. I read an article. Two Vietnamese girls visited Japan to admire the beauty of cherry blossoms,but in the evening, they was lost. They met a Japanese student. Two girls tried to ask him in English the way to their hotel but he was very confused. He had to used dictionary online so many times while talking and finally he used body language. At first, I thought that it was very normal, but that student seemed to studied in a high school.---> If he had been a VNese student, he would have answered it easily (in E)
Moreover, after graduating from high school,many VNese students choose to study in universities in Japan. Most of them agree that E is not very powerful, Japanese people can't understand when they speak in English although
their E is perfect.
In my opinion, if you live in a foreign country, you'd better speak its language ( as perfect as possible)

30 users have voted.