Our second entry, a lovely piece by Queen’s 3MT winner, Xiaoqian Liu.
As an international student at Queen’s, with English being my second language, for many times, I have heard my friends complaining how language barrier blocks their progress in study. I once complained so, too. It is “unfair”, indeed. However, my friends, language barrier is just a “paper tiger”. It will not stop us if we do not let it. Let me share some of my own experiences.
The most difficult part is, probably, to engage in class. We need to process what instructors and classmates have said. Meanwhile, we have to come up with something to say in order to get involved in the discussion. At the beginning, for the most of time, I kept silent. Soon I realized it would not work in this way, so I started with a few words, such as a question. Gradually I could speak two sentences, three, four…… Don’t be afraid of making mistakes when speaking. Everyone makes mistakes. Even when I speak my first language, I make mistakes. Well, you may be worried that others may laugh at you, thinking you are saying something silly. Friends, you are not living for others, so do not let how others look at you dominate your life.
Then, writing. It is hard for us to write in English as smooth as in our first language. It always takes us tons of time to write, right? If you are saying “yes”, I can tell you that you are making progress. It will take some time, but later you will find you have achieved a lot. We are too anxious and ambitious sometimes. We must give permission to ourselves to be human beings, and we must be patient with ourselves. No one can write beautifully in one or two days. In fact, how many of us could write beautifully in our first language, let alone second language? Practice makes, if not perfect, progress.
So, maybe you have seen a little bit of my point here. Language barrier itself will not keep us away from success, but the anxiety will. Anxiety holds us back from practices, challenges, and eventually progress and success. If we can deal with our anxieties, we would be much closer to success. It is not the perfect language that makes us succeed. It is the courage and spirit taken to face the challenges.