As I grow up, my family put me in a public school. Back then, public schools were not teaching English. Furthermore, my English skills were based on yes, no, and a number of greetings. When I got to study abroad in the US, I depended on my uncle because he had been there for a couple of years and would talk instead of me everywhere. But when my uncle picked me up from the airport, I was surprised by the opposite, he forced me to speak English everywhere, and even if I didn’t know the right words, he told me the right sentence and let me say them. Also, when someone says something to me, he pushes me to try to figure out what is meant instead of translating the meaning immediately. He took me everywhere, made me speak English even if I was shy to talk, and said, “This is the only way that makes you learn English”. My uncle impacts my English language by making me speak in public, correcting my mistakes, and teaching me specific exercises.
When my uncle made me speak in public, it made me independent because I had to speak, or else I wouldn’t get what I wanted. For example, when we want to order food, he would order for himself, and when I try to tell him what my order is, he says, “Do it yourself,” and when I reply that I don’t know the word to order he says “Use the words that you know and use your hands to describe the rest.” So, I was using my hands and words to communicate with people in the US, and my uncle taught me the right words after I finished. So, I think this helped me to be independent and not depend on others to communicate. Another fact that helped me in making me speak in public is that he led me not to be shy so that I would speak in comfort.
The second phase was correcting my mistakes. After I learned a lot of words and grammar, my uncle started to speak with me in English all the time. He let me finish my talk, and then he pointed out the mistakes that I had made and made me say them again the right way. This technique helped me to explore a lot of previous mistakes and not to fail them again. For example, when I signed the lease for my apartment, if I had a question about the lease, he let me say it, and if the employee didn’t get it, he showed me where I’d made a mistake and spoke it again by myself. This technique made me less shy because one of the main causes for me to be shy is talking in English wrongly. My uncle never corrected my accent because he believed that accent was something that would fix itself when I got to college and studied with American students and got the right accent from them. So, my accent was not counted as a mistake.
The final phase was teaching me special exercises to do while I’m alone. The first technique was to speak in front of the mirror in English. This technique has improved my speaking skills because I spoke comfortably without the pressure of making mistakes or making sure that other people understand what I’m saying. I thought it funny when I started doing it, but after talking to myself in front of the mirror, I realized how helpful that technique was. The second technique was to listen to the radio because he said that the radio makes you focus on the words instead of focusing on the body moves to understand. This technique improved my English because I was listening to the news, and I learned many words and how to put sentences correctly. Finally, write sentences in Google Translate, plays them with sound, and repeat them after the voice. This technique was not very helpful, but it did help me when my uncle went back to Flagstaff.
All in all, communicating in English was a struggle for me when I first came to the US. I will not forget my uncle’s role in improving my English. The impact I got from him by following his techniques was great, but the major role was the school. Making me speak in public, correcting my mistakes, and teaching me specific exercises was great way to improve my English, but not the correct way to learn English. I used the translator all the time, it was helpful, but not what you could learn from school. The school played a major role in making me speak English in the right way. Reading, writing, and speaking classes were the major cause of using English correctly.