Struggling with shame for writing in English

Photography by Alexandra Gorn | Unsplash

Over the last few years, I have been googling one statement again and again. I found all sorts of classes for writing in English when it is your second language until I found what I was looking for, right here, on Medium. My search was: easier to write in English even though it is not your first language.

N.A. Turner wrote a story called “Why I prefer to write in English even though it’s not my native language” in 2018 and I have read it five times.

I’ve read other stories he’s written, and I was surprised to find he is not English. I know the Dutch have an extensive understanding of English but to read that he prefers it as the main language of writing excited me. I am not alone.

Finding my inner Brit

I knew I had found what I was looking for when I read these four reasons (he has several more worth a read).

  • “Love for the pronunciation, tone, rhythm and possibilities.” I made a comment stating just this in other words.
  • “Studied English since the age of 6.” I don’t remember when, but for as long as I can remember I’ve studied the language where I’ve had the opportunity
  • “Inspirational English teacher.” Mine were danceteachers. The studio was my second home in my teenage years.
  • “Studied in the UK.” Was a nanny in the USA and realised quickly how much I missed Europe and the English accent, and humour, I love.

I tried, for a full year, as a nanny. Never again. It is called trousers, not pants, Julie.

So I leave, every day. Mentally and emotionally, I leave Norway to find my inner Brit and delve into writing in the language that comes naturally to me. I wrote Turner a comment:

I keep coming back to this story. I love it in so many ways. I grew up with British dance teachers, I loved the humour of the British tv-shows shown on Norwegian television, I loved the sound as it entered my ears, and I watch Location, Location, Location on the telly just so I can listen to Phil Spencer and Kirstie Allsop speak. I feel more like me when I speak close to their accent. But I feel like a fraud, as I do not feel at home in the country I was born in. I do, as you do, feel at home in England.

I am starting a podcast series and I am putting it off a bit due to the slight shame of speaking British English. The consensus seems to be that for those of us who the stork flew beyond England are supposed to speak American. I tried, for a full year, as a nanny. Never again. It is called trousers, not pants, Julie.

Not looking for perfection

“Who are you to take the easy way out? Why won’t you make the effort? Aren’t we good enough for you?” These are the questions I’ve never heard out loud but I was dreading the day my fellow Norwegians would hop on the Offended train and run me over.

20 podcasts in, I am thoroughly enjoying speaking in British English. It’s not perfect, but I find perfection boring, I love to learn and become skilled, but never perfect. There are a few words who are stumbling out of my mouth. I know who they are. In the meantime, if someone struggles with hearing what I’m saying they can read the text on my website.

One day, the word truths will not sound like truce. In the meantime, I will keep writing and speaking in English and enjoying the journey in my writing and podcasting. Who knows where this will lead.

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