When I began my college studies fresh after graduating from high school, it was not easy as the challenges I went through was equally difficult just like any other international student. I had lots of plans for my future but I had to pick a major in college that could provide the job I am looking for. However, one of the major challenge was that I had not mastered the English language as much as I would want. Just before I joined college, I had sought some pieces of advice from my uncle who had had undergone his college education in the United States before. My uncle was a brilliant fellow, which was manifested in the manner in which he approached my inquiry. He narrated a story about an immigrant from Iran to the United States who managed to gain recognition by being the first ever person of Arabic decent to work with American Marine as an engineer. His advise was that determination can make you achieve anything in this world. When I reflected his life and that of other people I have heard of, I realized that my resolve to study in the United States was cemented. The other challenge was the cultural barrier, even in the English language use and context.
From my background as an international student, it has always been difficult to understand the context with which native speakers of English talked. My experience with the English language is that I was taught in the context of an international student, hence found some barriers in both written and spoken language. However, my experience over this period has helped me develop an understanding of the context of communicating in English language as a native speaker.
The experience I have had in this course also confirms what my uncle had advised me before I joined college. In fact, I can state that it is the way he took life in general when he was away from home that made me also want to study in the United States. His world view had changed, and he seemed a man able to tackle anything in this world irrespective of the magnitude. His mastery of the English language was evident, as he had studied at a language institute in Houston. He advised me that studying in the United States required someone who could speak English. Through on and off interactions with him, I managed to master the English language for basic communication, as I had to study hard to ensure I had a good command of the language. I would have to admit that this was the best advise I ever got from him, as I saw other international students who had not mastered the English language struggle to interact with the rest of students fraternity due to language barrier.
During my quest to learn English language as a tool of communication, I had to constantly watch a lot of movies from Hollywood, American TV channels like CNN and other shows to master the American accent faster. On top of this, I had gone beyond the need to pass my TOEFL test because I need to use English as my primary means of communication from the time I set my foot at the college. This is after I had learned from my uncle that traditional TOEFL is not enough to meet the need of an expanded emphasis on the spoken English. In fact, I have realized that traditional pedagogies only take the dimension of scholastic approach in that the approach given is that English is outside the national or local linguistic environment.
Other than taking interest to learn English through the perspective of the ability to read English documents, to write essays and letters, and read, I have also developed the communicative goal of English in the perspective of native speaker-level proficiency. I would admit that I have not reached the top of my English skills, but I have moved beyond the TOEFL requirements and now trying to use English language as a tool of communication rather as an academic requirement. I have also learnt that there is the profound need for listening and speaking skills for one to successfully master the language as a communication tool. I would have loved if English language teaching in my native country was approached more from the perspective of correct usage than in the scholastic tradition that has not given students who wish to study abroad better leverage. In fact, it is high time English was taught in my native country in the perspective of communication rather than in the academic dimension. This course was instrumental in my effort to acquire to the communicative skills for writing. In fact, the successful writing of previous essays made me a better communicator. According to the advise I got from my uncle, it is important to develop the necessary attitudes that would inculcate my character as an international English speaker rather than a regional speaker. This is important because of the increased globalization of commerce and industry.
In another context, I have managed to overcome some cultural barriers in the use of the English language. For instance, in my native country teachers used English language threaded with terminologies related to Islam, which they considered part of the natural sociolinguistic pattern in every conversation. However, in this course and my interactions with fellow students and other community members of this college, I learnt that there is need to understand the broader concept of the English language rather than making it a regional language. In other words, the course became my focal point in ensuring I gelled well with other international students who, in one way or the other, faced more or less similar challenges I had. In fact, I had overcome the notion that people of Arabic decent who spoke English as an international language had been transformed by the English imperialism. This notion is so common among international students that sometimes one may be discouraged to continue perfecting his or her English skills.
My perspective is that taking an advise from an elder person who has walked the path to what you want to do is the best thing. It’s always important to think ahead, before taking a path that would lead to success. Doing the right thing can help one achieve success. With the proper attitude, one can go anywhere and achieve anything in the journey of life. When you have focus, and has identified a right path, nothing should stop you from reaching your goal. This is a trait I have picked from my uncle, who despite the challenges such as cultural boundaries, family discomfort and personal barriers, managed to achieve a mean feat that would see his life and that of the entire family become better. It also opens the minds of other young people like us, who had not realized anything beyond the closed Saudi family units. I intend to follow a similar path, and even go further to achieve my full potential for I have overcome the barrier by using English in the regional context. Mastering English as an international speaker will open more doors for my career and make me more competitive internationally rather than regionally.