Rahul shares his story on overcoming the fear of communicating in English

6 minutes

I am Rahul, a 23-year-old guy belonging to the vibrant city of Kolkata, West Bengal. I have completed my engineering (B.Tech) in Computer Science from Kolkata itself. My family consists of my parents and my elder brother. I share with you my story of college life in which I faced innumerable issues because I was not fluent in the English language.

My parents got me admitted to a government-aided school and I studied there till 12th Std. The medium of instruction in my school was our vernacular language Bengali. We had English too as one of the subjects and I knew that I was very weak in it. But, it really did not bother me as it was just one subject that I found very tough while I was decently average in other subjects.

Things changed when I joined college. All subjects were taught in English and I soon realised the intensity of not knowing English well. In the first semester, I could not understand anything in the class. The torture of not knowing English continued outside the classrooms too. My classmates would often tease and mock at me as they came to know that I had difficulty saying one proper sentence in English. I would get very conscious because of this and this caused, even more, fear of the language. All these events took a toll on me. It made me feel very lonely, seeing other people going out and enjoying their time together when I was huddled in my room. Also, I was unable to cope up with the syllabus and failed terribly in my first semester.

Post this, I realised that I have to work on my English skills to clear my exams. Rather than giving into the pressures and blaming my past, I thought of taking responsibility for learning English. So, I started reading English newspaper daily. I always carried a Bengali to English conversion dictionary with me. These habits helped me and by the end of the second semester, I was able to understand the language when someone spoke to me.

But I faced problems in speaking and writing in English. I tried very hard for the coming two years to get hold off speaking fluently in English but I could not do it. I was very sad by the end of the third year due to this. I always felt left out in college social circles. I was scared of going out with my group of friends too lest I speak something weird and then become the joke of the group. Even though I pined to be a part of the class outings, I would end up giving excuses to avoid gatherings and thus played safe.
By final year, when every student had a firm group, I had distanced myself from almost everyone. The last year is a tough and emotional year. Everybody was gearing up for placements. They prepared study groups, practised with each other and putting their best foot forward for the campus placements. I was on my own without any friends and this got me more worked up. I studied day and night and I knew that I had acquired good technical knowledge. But every company I appeared for rejected me in the first round itself i.e., the communications round because I could not speak English properly.

One by one, all my batch mates got placed. I was left alone on the campus without a placement. Everyone around me discussed salary packages, locations and plans with the first salary. I was heartbroken at not having a job. My morale hit rock bottom when my parents and my elder brother interpreted my failure as my lack of attention towards studies. They got very upset with me and took away my phone to make me focus on studies. I was not allowed to go out of my house. In this time too, I tried my best but failed to make any improvement in English.

A few months later, one of my cousins visited our house. He enquired about me and came to know about my placement issue. He talked to me at length and realised that my roadblock was English speaking. He advised me to join one of the spoken English institutes. I took his advice and joined it. It was a six-month course. When some of my classmates asked me about my preparation in those days, I did not inform them about the English speaking class as I was afraid that it might become another joke.

Slowly and gradually, my English speaking improved and my broken confidence started building up. I practised the mirror technique of speaking to myself. I started conversing in English even though I knew I made mistakes. This helped me a lot. I felt much more confident than ever before.
This transformation has helped me in many ways. I am now in a much better state of mind and am sure that I will be able to make a good career in my life. I am no more scared of going out and meeting new people. I have also talked about this with my family and they support me now.

I have a piece of advice to people going through a tough time – Face your problem, do not run away. When you actually run away from your problems, you feel empowered. So, face them boldly. That is the way to lead a life.

Your DOST celebrates the brave spirit of Rahul! Do you have a story inside you of struggle that you overcame with your brave spirit? Share it with us! You never know who can connect with your story and get the courage to keep moving ahead!

You can contribute your story by filling the survey at http://bit.ly/yd_story or send it to puneetmanuja@yourdost.com or WhatsApp the text/ audio/ video story to 92061-16825

Team YourDOST

YourDOST is an Online Emotional Wellness Coach. Through YourDOST anyone can Sign Up and anonymously seek advice and guidance from Counsellors, Psychologists, Special Friends, Mentors and other experienced individuals.