By guest blogger Marina Nazarov
My English learning journey began about 11 years ago when I immigrated to USA. The only English words I knew that time were: Hello, Thank You, and Please. Those are the staples of etiquette somewhat, but the reality was brutal: I wasn’t able to communicate even on a basic level.
I made friends in my community, who were kind enough to help me out for the first few months. I felt uncomfortable to ask them often, so I reserved the right to call for help only on very important subjects like renting my first apartment, opening bank account, etc. The rest I took in my own hands. Literally, I took in my hands a small pocket dictionary. I always carried it with me, and when I had issues communicating, which at that time was 95% of the time, I would find a word(s), point it out to a person, then I would pronounce it and then that person would correct me, often just smiling.
The first word I learned was attitude. One of my friends took me to a waterfront party on Lake Washington, where everyone spoke just English. I was standing at the shore inhaling beauty of the scene, amazed by the surroundings. Then I heard a chat behind my back, of course not understanding a word. I wasn’t aware that one of the guests was talking to me.
When he appeared before my eyes and started to talk to me, the only option I had was to politely smile. I dug out of my bag my slightly worn brown dictionary, that I bought at used book store at University District in Seattle, and had my “conversation”: I would point the word, then I asked the person to show me his word(s). Yes, it was sloooow moving dialogue. Then my friend came to the rescue and translated what the person wanted to know about me. We were laughing, we had a good time.
In the end, when it was time to leave, my new friend from the shore came to me and said: you have a good attitude. I looked at my friend to see her reaction: was it a compliment? Was I supposed to say something back or just plain Thank You would do? Then my new friend showed me on my dictionary, I opened it and he quickly found the word: Attitude – A state of mind or a feeling.
With that “good attitude” I left the party, and carried the feeling through.
I cannot emphasize enough how positive thinking, a good attitude affects someone’s ability to speak, write and read in English (or any other language for that matter).
On my path to this writing I had some bumps, few road blocks, even detours. But that never stops me or anchors me to the stage I am in. I am stubborn and keep looking for a ways until I find a fairway and can sail again in the ocean of English language.
A few months ago I was stuck. Some may call it a plateau, which is a natural stage in any learning process, but I call it stuck. I wasn’t ready to give up (because I am stubborn, yes). I Googled a few words: “writing stuck advice,” which lead me to this blog, to a post From Stuck to Unstuck in One Easy Step.
I left a comment and a few days later the author [guest blogger Deonne Kahler] replied to my comment, then Milli sent me a kind e-mail. This fact itself gave me so much confidence and charged my brain with the same “good attitude,” that that very moment I felt a big relieve, I had a big happy smile on my face, and I was grateful to Milli for all this.
Then I received a few encouraging paragraphs from Milli’s students, and my world changed: I had enough air to breathe again, I wasn’t afraid to be stuck anymore. I know I could always go back to the paragraphs Milli’s students sent me, read it, receive that boost of positivity and move on or . . . stay on a plateau.
I also realized that it is perfectly normal to be on the plateau – it is our body’s/mind’s defensive reaction, it’s a signal to stay put and absorb/process what we loaded in.
I received so much needed act of encouragement, which is extremely important to me and to many people as well. We all need words of encouragement, words that make us more hopeful, more determined, and confident.
Good attitude and encouragement melts fear away, and opens the door to the new opportunity. Please, feel free to comment or e-mail me, I am glad to help you.
Acknowledgement. My big thanks go to Milli Thornton, and to her students of Fear of Writing Online Course: Caroline, Meg, Karen, Cram and John.———
My name is Marina Nazarov. Eleven years ago I came to the US with degree in journalism and TV production. My life changed the moment I stepped my foot on this land. I worked jobs far from what my degree had to offer, but I appreciate everyone of them as those jobs gave me the opportunity to immerse myself into the american life, and helped me to understand a new culture and a new language. To learn more about me and what I am working on at this time, please, visit my blog, www.picnicatmarina.com, where I unleash my creative self.