Myth № 2:
I will practice and improve my English
Sounds quite attractive, right? Of course! Who would not like to improve their English skills? But, let’s take look at it slowly …
First, here is good news! Well, somewhat good… Out of all myths spread by WaT agents, this one is relatively close to truth. But it is still largely a myth. It is limited given the nature of students’ lifestyle. And here is why.
Let’s say your English level before the trip is rated 2 or 3 out of 10. That’s very typical for the vast majority of program participants.
Now look in the mirror and answer honestly: do you really expect to become fluent in English after cleaning thousands dirty dishes and scrubbing hundreds toilets for the whole summer?
Most likely not. What is most likely at those type of jobs is that you will learn Spanish not English as America became swamped by illegal immigrants from South America, Cuba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and so on. In many places, everything is duplicated in Spanish, because crowds of half-legal hispanics do not understand or speak English. Moreover, even those who come to US legally are initially forced to take on such unskilled jobs in order to at least earn something and make their ends meet – in America you have to pay for everything and it’s not cheap. The Americans themselves, at least normal and adequate people with a good speech, will never work at such positions – this why mostly foreigners are working at these jobs. So most likely at work you will speak with non-native English speakers and, at best, you will have a chance to talk in broken English.
For example, this is what one of the participants of Work and Travel said when asked if she was able to improve her English skills:
”Improve? I doubt it, I learned more of the slang and spoiled the grammar, that I studied – that’s for sure! Since I study at the Geography department and graduated from a school with in-depth English courses, I especially wanted to participate in this program and improve my English. But it turned out that perfecting and practicing English there is not an easy thing. There are a lot of semi-literate immigrants in US and therefore there are many different dialects. Very few people spoke a pure English around me. I actually had no chance to use grammar and vocabulary, which I learned in school and college. Most of Americans do not follow and ignore all grammatical rules, at least folks around me. The manner and speaking style of Afroamericans are without any comments… it’s just really bad. And then, most of the time at work we spent with the Mexicans and listened to their conversation. So it turns out that this is not English at all, but some kind of incomprehensible mixture of languages. And you are asking about improving my English skills… “
Now add also the fact that students usually live together to save money. J-1 students mostly come to resort towns, where they often meet people … from their hometowns and even universities. As result, they speak their native language most of the times. So after short 3 months of dishwashing, housekeeping, flipping burgers and living together with classmates, your English level may slightly improve 1-2 grades up to 3 or 4 out of 10. That is it, no more. Of course, there are exceptions, but they are usually limited and quite rare.
What is more important here is that you will gain some confidence speaking English. Some. You will feel it, you will feel how you changed internally. It is a mental victory and no more fear to open mouth and begin speaking English. Yes, it is still a broken English but who cares? People may still not understand you but it does not matter at this point. The ball is rolling and you will get better with time. Practice makes perfect!
Try to catch any opportunity to talk English and you will get better. You will. That is a proven fact. But again don’t think you will become a fluent speaker as WAT agents promise you. So be careful and don’t expect too much “practicing and improving English” from cleaning dishes and scrubbing toilets. Remember, you are invited in US only to do unskilled or casual labor type of works which by design does not require much interaction in English… Sooooo, hope you get the point here.
Anyway, thanks for reading, it was another WAT myth about “improving” English…
We wish you the best of luck!!!
Want to earn promised “average” $6000, enhance your resume and refund taxes? Good luck… but before you pay $3000 to Work and Travel agents check out these myths about the program:
- Money Myth
- Career Myth
- Tax refund Myth
- Medical insurance Myth
- Cultural Exchange Myth
- Sex. Money. Work and Travel. Part One.
- J-1 visa interview with commonly asked questions (more than 100)
as well as other useful Work and Travel tips in the book
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