I grew up in an immigrant family.  When you think of people who escaped to live the “American Dream,” it is exactly what my parents did.

My first few childhood years, I didn’t speak English because my parents only spoke to me in Vietnamese.  My sisters and I all found ourselves speaking words incorrectly throughout our lives, but now we laugh at it because it makes our childhood even more memorable with the struggles.

Here are a few examples of specific words:

  • Salmon- Sal-mon, why would you make the “l” silent?
  • Bologna- Bol-ga

So over the past few months I met a friend who just came to America about 2 years ago.  We speak on a daily basis to help with the pronunciation.  As I’ve been doing this, I have learned three very important lessons:

  1. I may speak and write really well, but when it comes to grammatical rules, people outside the US understand so much better when to use a semi-colon, colon, comma, etc… They actually know the “why” we use something much better than me.  I remember when I was little, my mom would ask me that and my answer is I don’t know, I just know.  FYI- Her grammar is nearly perfect.  She writes as if she was born and raised here.
  2. There are so many words that sound the same, but mean something different. I can totally understand why people get confused.
  3. Many times I have to use the dictionary to help me. I feel like I need English lessons after trying to be a teacher.

Half the time, I will be asked, what does this mean.  And I will mention the main definitions, but there is always a curveball throw for a new meaning that I am not sure about.

After this experience, it has made me appreciate my parents even more.  It has also really humbled me, it’s absolutely not easy learning English as your second language.  So the next time someone asks me for help in a store to translate something, I will make sure to do my best to help them out.

Here is one of our English lessons and when you see it, you are going to think the same thing.  English IS hard!

***I learned I am absolutely not an artist by any means and should stick to my day job.


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