When I was studying for my bachelor’s in early childhood education, I attended a semester abroad in Denmark and Norway. The program included 27 people from 11 different countries. Best experience of my life up to that point!
In the first two weeks of the program I was almost mute. I was too afraid to talk in class and sound dumb. I am a very opinionated individual and I am never shy about expressing myself, but the thought of making mistakes in English was paralyzing to me.
During a social event I mentioned to my American classmates that I don’t talk in class because I was insecure about my English. Their response that evening changed my entire attitude: They said that as Americans they were so impressed with people who speak more than one language. They told me that since most people speak English they hardly ever have to work hard to communicate with others and they were very appreciative that others took the time and made the effort to learn another language. Needless to say, I started talking in class the next day.
So, I thought to myself, if Americans, who are the “English authority” in my mind, were ok with my mistakes then I should be too. I don’t know if my classmates even remember this conversation, but I have cherished their message and will forever be grateful for their support.