I wish I could understand you:(

Do you ever feel like no one is following what you say? Do you feel like you cannot express yourself in front of others? Then you have a communication problem and it often happens to international students.

Why can’t we go and work in countries where we do not speak the language? Though technology, medicine, mathematics…all have universal languages it is almost impossible to communicate with colleagues, clients, vendors…without having a good grasp of the local language.

So why this is coming up now? You spent years and tons of money on getting a degree, but are you losing opportunities because of your language or communication skills? Every single job requires interviews where the candidates are expected to demonstrate their technical, functional and communication skills, so it is crucial that you work on your language skills.

I know it is not easy to become proficient in a language but it is as important as technical skills in job search, so if you are not a native speaker of English you should spend time and effort in perfecting your language skills. You all take time from your work, family, life to get a degree and why not use this time to address improving your language skills as well?

Unfortunately, verbal communication is often an individual effort and depending on your motivation and personality your results may vary. It is extremely important that you do not get discouraged and keep practicing.

There are many groups you may join to practice your language skills:

  • Toastmaster meetings (your school or work may have meetings)
  • ESL groups in local libraries
  • ESL groups in your university
  • Social networks such as Meetup
  • Hobby/interest groups
  • Sports activities
  • You can also work with your school’s career services on mock interviews

You came to another country to experience a different culture so do not restrict your social network to people who speak your native language. This is your opportunity to explore a different culture but also become proficient in English, do not miss that opportunity by being shy to approach others.

Practice is the only way to improve language skills, you can read all you want, watch TV, listen to radio/news/music but until and unless you speak with others preferably regarding random topics you will not feel confident in your communication abilities.

Now that the weather is getting better take this as an opportunity to brush up your language skills. Get out there, go hiking with a group, take Zumba classes, go to meet ups of your interests, join a new activity group, meet new people… do not just hang out with the same people, take a step out of your comfort zone and practice, practice, practice!

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