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How to improve my English communication?

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Senior Software Engineer at IBM6 months ago

what are the best effective resources available out there to improve my English in the tech field. I am an immigrant and English is my 3rd language. My not so good spoken English is hurting my career a lot

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  • Alex Chiou
    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    6 months ago

    My not so good spoken English is hurting my career a lot

    Sorry to hear this - I hope the following advice, and if things ever get really bad, I'm just a ping away on the Taro Premium Slack! I'm always happy to lend an understanding ear 😊

    First, I recommend this video on the importance of English for immigrant engineers and how to grow there. It's from Rachel Zhao, head of Search Engineering at Airbnb, who also didn't learn English as their first language.

    English was my 2nd language, but since I was born in the US, I was privileged enough to have it effectively be my 1st language (and now it's my primary language). I'm not the closest to this problem, so would love for folks who didn't have English as their 1st language chime in with better advice than mine.

    Anyways, here are my thoughts:

    • Put yourself out there and talk to your teammates in English as much you can - Language is very much a "muscle memory" type of skill: You get make the biggest strides getting at it by just doing it. This was the most helpful for me as I was learning Spanish (I'm more fluent at Spanish than I am in Chinese now). It's going to feel awkward, maybe even painful, initially, but if you have a good team, I'm sure people will be very supportive.
    • Tap into people's kindness and ask for feedback - At the end of a long communication (either long or written), you can add something like, "If anything I said doesn't make sense, please let me know! English isn't my first language, and I'm trying really hard to get better at it.". This humility really activates people's empathy and makes them really want to help you. The clear feedback will help you improve quickly as well!
    • Try Toastmasters - It's a nice organization that helps you improve your public speaking and communication skills. I went to a session once a while ago, and it was all pretty wholesome. I think it has a good chance of helping.