Monday, February 9, 2015

Juan's motivation to use English professionally

Juan (center) with level-8 classmates Leslie (left) and Taka (right) shooting the breeze during break. 

Juan Gil-Morte sits in the Level 8 Advanced 2 class at New York Language Center more confident now about his English than ever before. He has come a long way since a year and a month ago when he started in level 1 and could barely say anything at all in English. He had studied English in school in his home city of Madrid, but the classes focused mostly on basic grammar with little opportunity to form his own sentences or express himself in his new language. Now, he’s often one of the first in class to share his opinions or explain a concept during class discussions. His teachers notice the difference and appreciate his eagerness to put what he has learned into practice.

"He's a great guy to have in class," Ryan Lee, his current instructor, says. "He's always engaging."

Ryan has had Juan in several classes over the past year and says Juan has definitely opened up and has become more confident with his English. A recent discussion over Super Bowl commercials had Juan sharing his professional expertise with his classmates over how the multimillion dollar tv ads may have been made.

This expertise is a major reason he is determined to master English. Juan is a digital professional who works with images and sound to help companies promote their brands. After having worked in different areas in this field—as a photographer, video editor, director of photography—he is now a director of audio visual and video production and leads a team of creative experts who pitch him ideas on how to best serve the client. With his previous experience in the different areas of a project, he is able to evaluate his team’s suggestions and decide whether blowing up a helicopter, for example, is feasible with their time and budget constraints or if a cheaper option is better.

How does mastering English relate to putting together a promotional video for tv or the web? Juan says that speaking English well will enable him to communicate with people abroad, which has become more and more necessary in his profession. With the Internet’s worldwide reach, working with clients and team members from around the globe will increasingly become the norm. His goal is to conduct business in English confidently without having to rely on colleagues to relay information, as he has in the past.

Juan came to NYLC a year ago after a friend, who had also studied here, referred him to our school. Juan says he likes NYLC because the classes are not too big and because the class activities are fun. He especially enjoys being able to participate and speak. He only wishes he could also join NYLC’s after-school activities in the afternoon and thinks that his level of English would even be better if he had more chances to speak English outside the classroom.

Despite missing out on extra activities, however, Juan has noticed huge improvements in his ability to understand movies and shows in English. It’s also become easier for him to express himself in English if he knows exactly what he wants to say. His big challenge now is to continue eliminating the grammar mistakes when he speaks. He says he realizes them soon after he finishes talking. Despite making errors, however, Juan looks for chances to speak English whenever he can, and with his increasing confidence, he now shops at stores where he has to communicate with shop keepers to ask for certain products.

With greater exposure to English in the course of one year, he’s also noted some major differences between English and Spanish that has helped him become more comfortable with his new language. One such difference is in their pace and rhythm.

“I speak very fast in Spanish,” he says, “and I used to try to do the same in English.”

Not being able to speak at the same speed in English as in his native language was a huge source of frustration in the beginning. He has now learned to slow down and to take his time when speaking English. He has also learned not to be bothered if he has to repeat something a few times to someone or if he has to ask someone to repeat something. His advice to fellow English learners is to take their time and not to worry when they try to communicate in their new language.

In the future, he hopes to convince his company to find him a position in New York, where his girlfriend currently lives. Whether he continues to work for a huge multinational company or goes off on his own business venture, he hopes to confidently and comfortably conduct business in perfect English.

We at NYLC have a strong feeling he will.

written by Joe Yu, ESL instructor

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