What did three years in London teach me about the English language?

September is usually a big month for me, as there’s always something going on. Be it first day of school, birthday, or starting university. This day three years ago, I made a leap and moved to London. It hasn’t been an easy transition and it taught me a lot. I’ve been learning English since I was eight, but live language I was about to experience in Britain was completely different. Here are top lessons an immigrant learnt about the English language.

At the age of eight, learning the whole new language was challenging. Despite the common belief that kids comprehend new languages effortlessly, my beginnings of learning weren’t quite tireless. I needed to take my time to learn the basics grammar, basic phrases, but I didn’t enjoy it too much. Luckily, it got better with time. The moment I realised the second language, and especially English, would open many doors for me, I started making some progress, exploring new vocabulary, hearing the live language on YouTube and being an avid reader of English websites.

Many years later, when I moved to London, I thought my English is good enough to communicate. Little did I know that my future profession – public relations – would gather wordsmiths and language skills need to allow for more than sole communication. I’d be writing copy for the high profile clients, and I’d be conveying messages to specific target audiences.

Three years is a long time, but my English is a work in progress. My grammar still needs some improvement, I tend to write much longer sentences than I have to. Throughout the mission of improving my language, I’ve learnt a few thing.

#1 Plain English is key

I always thought the more snazzy words I put into the copy, the better it’ll be. I also thought that the more complex my sentences will be, the more eloquent I’ll be coming across. My job taught me that it’s not the case. This might, indeed, be case at the university, but writing for PR is all about simplicity of thought. It’s all about being able to convey ideas in the stupidly simple words (KISS – keep it stupid simple remains one of my favourite sayings). Finally, a good flow of the piece and its message is far more important than the flowery language.

#2 THE articles are important

A huge one for me. My biggest burden and an Achilles heel. I know the basics of THE articles and that they come before A noun. The exceptions of them, however, can be multiplied and I don’t always get my head around them. There’s no such thing as articles in my mother language and the articles are unnatural for me. I tend to overthink them and I end up putting them in random places. I’m in a good position that I’ve my work proofed and fed back on constantly, so I can learn and improve.

#3 Social interactions differ

Having a comparison of the social situations I’ve had in Poland and Britain, I can say that they differ quite drastically. This is a controversial thing to say, but I think I prefer British way of interacting with others and find it hard to switch back to the ‘Polish’ way once back home. ‘Hey, you’re right?’ isn’t really a thing when interacting in Poland. I know it’s not always literal in the English language, but I’ve noticed it sets a good tone to the conversation.

As mentioned, my English is still a work in progress. One of the biggest incentives behind running this very blog was to become a better writer and put pen to paper more regularly. I always edit it and proofread before posting, but there’s probably a lot of things that don’t sound natural and/or are incorrect. I don’t mind being told that my grammar is lousy – constructive criticism will eventually make my writing better. So if you ever notice anything that doesn’t sound right, please do shout!

***

If you have any suggestions, would like to guest post or give me a feedback, feel free to email me at kl.marcel [at] gmail.com, tweet me @marcelkl or connect with me on LinkedIn. Thanks for stopping by, have a splendid day!

Author: Marcel Klebba

Junior Account Executive at M&C Saatchi PR. Working across the corporate & B2B accounts. Freshly graduated from the PR course at the University of Westminster. Interested in current affairs, tech, social and digital.

Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram