Why Can’t I Just Speak ENGLISH?!

If you’re studying abroad in a non-English speaking country, or even if you are, you may find yourself, at some point, saying why can’t I just speak English—American English that is?! Well, don’t get fed up, you can work through it, reminding yourself that it will pay off in the long run. Here are some pointers: 

1)      Grab a local: Even though it may be tempting to hang around with your Anglophone friends, the urge to speak English may be greater than your weakened will power! Don’t do it! Find your local buddies to pal around with!

2)      Pick up a new book: When I was in Russia, I used to get so angry with the Russian language in general and just wanted a break. I’d pick up my copy of Eat, Pray, Love and go to town. After about 2 weeks, I felt so guilty for reading in English, knowing that 10 minutes of English was costing me about an hour of Russian. I proceeded to check out a local Russian book store and picked me up some Pushkin and Bulgakov. How accomplished I felt, when sifting through that rich Russian prose!

3)      Walk outside: The simple act of stepping outdoors puts you into the foreign atmosphere with the language you are rebelling against, floating all around you. Walking through a market, a store, a gallery, a park, all will allow you to listen and soak in the language you currently loathe. You may not need to speak it, but at least you are getting some exposure!

4)      Get some rest: I was amazed by how absolutely exhausted I was from all the concentration on listening and then sentence formation and production! Whew! It was all I could do by the end of the day to smile and nod. When you are overcome by language exhaustion, simply lie down and sleep a while. The situation will appear infinitely better upon waking.

5)      Flip on the TV: Turn on the TV, watch a movie in your dueling language or even snag a newspaper at the local stand, even this passive exposure is causing your gears to turn and your brain to learn.

Even though each day may seem like a linguistic eternity, I promise it will get easier! Then by the time you come home, you will have gained so much confidence in your speaking ability, not to mention the sense of accomplishment you will have for not caving into the intense urges to revert back to your mother tongue. Take a deep breath and tough it out—you can do it!

–Kelsey Guyette, DUSA Peer Advisor


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