February 2019

What Motivates Me to Learn English?

Recently, an administer in Duke University stepped down because she advised Chinese students not to speak Chinese on campus. Otherwise, they may get punishments. As an international student, I would like to share my own experience in learning English.

I started to learn English at 12 years old in middle school. At that time, I could not understand why we should learn a second language, so I studied English for the purpose of exams. My English grade was often lower compared with other courses, and I didn’t like it at all.

In the third year of college, I changed my attitude and took an effort to improve English skill after deciding to study abroad. I thought it was a tool to use in order to live and study in the United States. Even though I had been here for five years, self-consciousness bothered me sometimes when I talked to native speakers. I was worried about making mistakes and felt embarrassed about my accent. The feeling of inadequacy urged me to work hard on practicing English skills under pressure.

Until one day, I met my best friend at Virginia Tech, who is an American. There is a profound connection between us even though we grew up in very different cultures. I think that English is the bridge and also the barrier for us to know each other better. I cherish every minute with my friend since I’m graduating soon. I felt very sorry when she did not understand a sentence I said, but she always tried to understand me patiently. She also told me the appropriate way to say something. Because of her, I developed a passion for English and spent one hour per day to improve my pronunciation, speaking/listening and vocabulary. I’m willing to improve my English with a whole heart not for exams or pressure but for love.

The advice made by that administer with a good intention did not work because it failed to motivate international students in a positive way. My learning experience told me that love is the best motivation for people to make a positive change.

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