i‑Learner Education Centre

Steps to Success » Travels Through English

When in English Speaking Countries, Speak as They Do

Uncertainty can feel scary, and we even experience this in situations without real danger, such as talking to people in a different language. When travelling, we may baulk at speaking with strangers or investigating a new culture because we don’t feel sure of our language skills. However, wonderful surprises, improvements, and growth can also be on the other side of the veil, so it’s worth pushing through.

A large obstacle to learning a foreign language originates from our fear of mistakes. We fear that we’ll be corrected or humbled, so we retreat from opportunities to improve through practice. We’re lucky in Hong Kong to have an incredible provision of English lessons from an early age, and we should feel proud of our abilities, whatever stage we’re currently at. We are very well equipped with the tools to communicate in English; what we often lack, though, is the confidence to use it. Our mother tongue is familiar and comfortable, so even though there are plenty of opportunities to use English right here in our city, we tend not to.

When travelling though, we have the perfect opportunity to experience English in authentic contexts. This is a great chance to see how first-language English speakers choose their phrases, to practise colloquial language, and to respond. Any blunder we might make holds no real consequence as we’re unlikely to stay in that foreign place long enough to be embarrassed again. So, master that fear, and speak up, read more, and listen. A simple phrase used to order a meal can already expand our vocabulary and reinforce our confidence. When you are travelling, take that step to expand your cultural and linguistic horizons.