I want to tell you my story of English studies, and I hope it helps other students who are afraid of coping with English language as a part of their university studies. My way hasn’t been easy but fortunately this story has a happy end.
Year 1993 was very important for me. That’s when I started on the third grade in elementary school and also when I started learning English. I was not able to take part in a couple of first classes, because I was ill. I’m now 30 years-of-age but the memory of that time still haunts me. I truly believe that missing those first few classes caused the problem that I'm still very timid to speak and use English. Why? Well, let me tell you.
During the time I was ill, the rest of the class studied numbers, colors and English vocabulary in general. As the topic was new, my friends at school got really excited in learning English and perhaps that's why they focused more on it than on other topics. They probably found the topic more fascinating because of its novelty. When I came back to school, my friends told me all the things they had been taught and I tried to learn and memorize all those things in my spare time.
I was not able to participate in any discussions, because I didn’t know the English words. And for some reason I thought I never will; I was ashamed of not being able to speak English. I was also too ashamed to confess anyone that I had no idea what was going on, and that I found it impossible to ever reach the same level of skills my friends had because I had been absent from the first lessons. That's where it all began. I always felt like being one step behind and just when I felt that I had learned something, I thought that I should have known a lot more. I now understand that I should have told someone about this problem. Today, if I don’t understand something, especially the relevant parts, I tell about it to someone who is able to teach me. But as a child I did not understand that.
I now realize that I should have acted differently, but at the same time I can’t help wondering how it is possible that teachers never noticed my struggles and offered help. After all, I was a little child without any confidence whatsoever on my skills when it came to learning English. Such a small problem grew huge over the years and all the way through the elementary school, high school and Applied Sciences I believed that I can’t speak English and that I will never be able to learn it. But that is one of the reasons why I'm so happy that I came to study at the university. You can imagine how shocked I was when I realized how well I have to know the English language, in order to be able to pass this degree. I was convinced, that I could not do it. But I decided to do my best and work extremely hard to learn it. And that is exactly what I did! I translated various articles word by word, and did a huge amount of notes.
You definitely wonder if it made any sense, but it did. I noticed that little by little I understood English language better. I learned to understand what the articles in English were about and I was able to do English exercises. But above all, I got self-confidence that I can learn English. Now I'm in the English language course, where we have to make an oral presentation. In the past I would have fainted with fear. Now I'm really excited in practicing all the new things we learn in the course. I am no longer afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes will be there, but so what? In the English language course, our teachers have been really great and they guide us very well. I'm not bitter, but still a part of me hopes that I could have got this kind of support in the English language twenty years ago.
Text: Laura Niiranen, student of Independent study of English course