Yesterday at work I met silly man. He came in the small shop I am working in greeting me too happily. He kept saying hello, hi and terve (Finnish greeting). I kept answering to his greetings because as awkward Finn I can’t be the last one to stop. Then he explained that he is from France. Parisian to be exact. He also said it in Finnish and told me that he can’t say anything else in my language.
“Anteeksi, anteeksi, anteeksi, olen ranskalainen…” (Sorry, sorry, sorry, I am French.)
We talked a little even if there was this huge language barrier between the two of us. Quiet Finn and too talkative French. What would we have in common?
A lot more than you think I realized after this silly little French man left. He bought Finland magnet and left my shop smiling widely. I continued working in now quiet shop but for some reason couldn’t stop smiling. Meeting with this man who was the total opposite of me made me realize something important. Something I have realized before during my travels but I tend to forget…
I’m not the only one scared to death of speaking English. I am not the only one who feels like they have to constantly apologize for not speaking it fluently. There is a lot of us and we come from all around the world. English is maybe even more hard from people coming from countries like French and Finland. We just don’t pronounce the words like people speaking English. Our language just doesn’t in the same category with English.
We may be insecure. Saying sorry comes automatically when we meet new person. But we can’t give up. This small French came to my work place and kept talking non-stop. There was words he didn’t pronounce like fluent English speakers. There was some things I didn’t understand and some words he corrected for himself even before I realized that there was something wrong. If it had been me, this story would be different.
I would leave the shop with panicky feelings and tears in my eyes. I would keep thinking it for days because “why can’t I just pronounce the stupid words like everyone else?”. I wouldn’t say sorry smiling like him. I would look the floor and mumble something no one can understand. It’s the difference between me and this bright man from France.
So what do the two of us have in common? In addition to not talking English fluently. We don’t give up. He had came to Finland where talkative people are feared like a death. I keep traveling even if every conversation I have to have in English will make me panic. He kept talking even if his language skills weren’t perfect. I keep trying even if my language skills are far from perfect.
I am not sure where I was going with this post bu I just wanted to share this small meeting I had with silly French man with someone. And I guess at the same time I just wanted to tell everyone that it’s okay to not speak perfect English. There is more of us who don’t speak it fluently than those who do. So, keep trying and failing as much as you want!