Fuchsias remind me of successful language learners. As I write this, I’m sitting on a green bench in Penarth, gazing through the brilliant fuchsias and the palm trees to the paved promenade festooned with colourful pennants. But it’s the shining sea that my eyes are fixed on. Dancing in front of it, catching my eye as their shapes contrast with the moving waves, are the flowers.
Their delicate centres hang from the open petals. Shocking pink and purple blend to hold my attention. They have prepared for this over a long time, gathering strength and nurturing beauty in their graceful curves before opening to reveal their full glory. It’s impossible not to notice fuchsias. Whether they are waiting silently in the wings, like an actor ready for a cue, or are shaking their colours triumphantly in the wind, we know they are there,
When you begin to speak English, you want to be noticed for the right reasons.
Some people stay silent until they’re sure they can speak perfectly, which will take a very long time. Others start communicating from the first moment, confident that listeners will make the effort to understand them. Some pop their nervousness playfully, like a party balloon, when they feel ready to use English in public. Others burst on stage with a flourish.
Are you the dramatic type? Or are you still shy?
My thoughts are interrupted by the chattering of magpies and the cooing of pigeons. I listen to the different languages the birds are using. This brings me back to the post I’m writing.
Whatever your native tongue, your first language, you can learn to speak English in a way that grabs people’s attention.
Of course, that could be for the wrong reasons. Indistinct pronunciation or confused grammar can make it difficult for listeners to understand you.
But the best moments come when native speakers admire the fluency and colour of your English. Perhaps they’re captivated by your foreign accent. Let’s face it, the fuchsia is a gaudy and exotic bloom.
Or maybe they’re impressed that someone has learned to speak English so well. They hear a clear British accent, natural intonation, no obvious errors. After a while, but not immediately, they realise you’re a foreigner. Wow! You’ve passed the test.
The level you reach may not be important to you, but you might as well enjoy the learning process, and dance like fuchsias in the breeze!