Thank You For Calling

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But there was one exception. Right around 2009, I got myself a call center job. For the first time ever, I finally had real conversations with native speakers of English.

But I was like a soldier with no combat experience. I had never been around English- speaking people before so my first month or so was the hardest and the scariest. 

Every time the phone rang, the feeling was terrifying. I felt like it was more comfortable talking to the dead than the living.

Unlike being an ESL teacher where you have total control over your classes, being a call center agent means there's no getting away with irate customers.

Nevertheless, my call center experience is one of the best highlights of my English-speaking life. Being a call center agent demands you speak and listen a lot. 

In my experience, a lot meant nearly endless listening and talking without breathing to around 60-65 US customers with varying accents every work shift.

I have found out if you let an accent come into your brain without analyzing it, you'll eventually get it unconsciously. 

That's why I recommend you take advantage of YouTube videos and podcasts. 

They're free yet incredibly helpful.

My call center experience has taught me one simple truth: There's no better way to improve your spoken English than to begin speaking NOW. 

Stop thinking how you suck. Start speaking to fix what needs fixing. You will never know if you're wrong if you don't speak.

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.

— Albert Einstein

I once worked for a Korean national who founded an ESL school in Cebu, Philippines. I could still recall the day when I applied for the job. 

One of the managers had told me the owner was a grammarian. I was a bit fazed. But when I had my final interview with him, he, for some reason, did not speak a single word of English. He let his manager do the talking. 

I guessed he wished to speak free of grammatical errors. Or should I say, he was afraid of losing his face if he committed mistakes. I just couldn't figure out why he decided to stick to his mother tongue.

Come on, isn't it being able to communicate in English the ultimate purpose why we study the language? In schools, grammar is God. No doubt, teachers are pretty good at explaining its concepts.

But no amount of grammar knowledge will make the information stick unless you're able to use it on a regular basis. 

What purpose does it serve having good grammar skills and yet you are not able to execute them? How can you be good at something if you don't actually do it, use it, practice it?

What's easy on paper is hard in real life. But to learn you have to actually speak it, practice it, make mistakes, correct it, then do it better. 

How many times do I have to point this out? You can't speak English because you don't damn speak it, period.

All the listening and reading and studying grammar books that you do will not make you a better speaker. Once again, speak even if your voice shakes.

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