English at Work After 8 Months

Sharing a new set of impressions about my English after 8 months of working in an English-speaking team.

Previous posts on this topic:

What’s new?

In the past 5 months since my last post about English, there have been several changes:

  • While preparing for the CELPIP, I improved my grammar skills.
  • I started feeling much more confident in oral and written communication.

It’s hard to say what exactly contributed to this increased confidence in communication. I suppose it’s a cumulative effect combined with the test preparation.

In addition to communicating with familiar colleagues, I started conducting developer interviews in English. I believe this also boosts my level.

There is still room for improvement

Occasional difficulties and mental blocks when trying to recall certain words still persist. However, I should note that I’ve become more accepting of this and allow myself to stumble and rephrase sentences if I get stuck. Vocabulary expansion is happening very slowly.

Speaking English after the weekends is still challenging, and here ElsaSpeak or reading aloud before bed still come to my aid.

I have also started paying attention to my accent and set a goal to minimize it as much as possible. I decided to look for a teacher who could help me with proper pronunciation.

About finding a teacher

I thought that in order to reduce my accent, it would be nice to find a teacher with a focus on accent reduction. I registered on Italki and Preply. I had introductory lessons with 4 teachers who clearly stated in their profiles that they focus on accent reduction, but I realized that either the problem was with my expectations or the teachers were focusing on something else. So, I’m still in search of a suitable teacher.

In the meantime, I continue practicing with Elsa, but now on a schedule.

While going through the demo lessons, I discovered several interesting practices for myself:

  • Not to rush and slow down my speech. Speeding up is always possible, but stopping the omission of endings is difficult.
  • Start enunciating the endings explicitly.
  • Pronounce sentences/words very slowly multiple times.
  • Avoid using slang and informal vocabulary, as it can lead to incorrect language understanding and habits. For non-native speakers, there is not much difference between “I’m gonna” and “I’m going to,” and there is a strong temptation to memorize and use contracted forms universally. However, the problem is that such language is not used in formal meetings.
  • Read aloud.

One piece of advice from one of the teachers really stuck with me. She asked me, “Do you know how to assess your progress in terms of pronunciation and accent?” I paused, as it was not an easy task at first.

But it turned out to be very simple - she suggested taking a short excerpt from any book and recording myself reading it. Then, after a month, reread the same excerpt and compare the results.

What conclusions can be drawn at the moment?

Having a solid intermediate level of language knowledge carries a significant danger - you can already talk about various topics without experiencing much stress, and this can lead to complacency. From my observations, many people get stuck at this level for a long time, if not indefinitely.

Although I see my progress, I believe I could improve my language skills faster. However, without significant changes in my life (such as starting to speak English at home), I don’t understand how to accelerate this process.

Translated by ChatGPT