Language decides one’s destiny, especially in a foreign land. For a girl coming from India, who has had all her schooling in English, settling down in the US, must be pretty easy isn’t it? Well, it is not all fairy tale. Although I had my schooling in English, I spoke my native language at home. Also, I was taught British English in school.
To break the ice in a foreign country, knowing the local language is a must. And it is mostly influenced by the culture of that particular country. Certain usage of words, phrases, historical references play a major role in the process of communication in any country. For those fresh off the boat, it becomes a challenge to grasp these intricacies. Especially if you want to pursue a career in journalism, marketing and PR related streams.
When I came to the US, I was a highly confident individual. With full gusto, I started applying for jobs. Very soon, I started feeling disillusioned. Because I was barely hearing back from employers, even though, I thought I had a great interview. I realized the issue was my language skill. Although I had a Master’s degree in Communications from India, I lacked the understanding of the American way of interacting.
A simple small talk with my neighbor would cause miscommunication. Because basic words we use on a daily basis are quite different. For example, in India cookies and crackers are called biscuits, elementary schools are called primary schools, shorts are called half-pants and so on.
Alarm bells started ringing, when I attended a few interviews and employers used strange idioms—I did not know how to react. An interviewer once said, “At our company we are different, we do not twist the arms of employees to take up projects” I was taken aback! I was wondering if other companies literally twist the arms of employees!
Later I realized “Twist someone’s arm” is an American idiom which means “Persuading someone to take up work they are unwilling to”
Jokes aside! I after encountering several similar situations, I realized I had to become a part of the mainstream population to get a hang of the local dialect and way of interacting. I decided to take up a course at a local state university. This course took me one step closer to my dream of becoming a marketing professional in the US.
Being taught by American professors made big difference to my vocabulary. I could grasp different words and phrases pretty easily. I realized that the best way to learn American English was by listening to people speak, so I could learn the meaning and the pronunciation of important new words.
Next what I did was, got hooked on to the watching American TV shows. I began watching Big Bang Theory, The Modern Family, Everybody Loves Raymond, Two and a Half Men and several others! This helped me understand the American culture, the mindset of people and most importantly specific cultural references, which helped me blend with the American population.
I realized the importance of having a strong vocabulary. As they say, be a roman in Rome——-it is important to know words that are relevant to particular culture and country. I live in California, but if I go deep south to Alabama or Mississippi, I will have to add more words to my word bank.
Learning words is life long process, there cannot be an end to it. Language is always evolving and adapting to it is smartest thing to do to survive through the rat race.
Which is why, WordPash is a great tool acquire the wealth of words and knowledge. WordPash not only helps you add new words to your vocabulary and also learn the meaning and pronunciation at the speed of lightening!