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In first 3 parts of this article, I talked about the importance of reading, thinking and preparation. All of them contribute to your hardware. In this final part, I talk about software which could affect confidence.
A big enemy of confidence is the feeling of being inferior. For us Chinese, this often results from the belief that we're just not as good as whites. I felt this way when I first came to Canada. After years of living here, however, I don't feel it anymore. Rather, I feel we're actually smarter. I worked through many companies in Toronto and New York. And worked with people of all colors, whites, blacks, Indians. Very often I had to explain simple ideas to them in many different ways for them to understand. Sometimes it's so crazy that you'd think there's really something wrong with them.
Poor English could also make us feel inferior. Many of us care too much about our accents. In my opinion, accent is not a negative at all. Arnold Schwarzenegger has funny accent but it doesn't prevent him from becoming the Governor of California. Jean Chrétien has even funnier accent but he managed to become the Prime Minister of Canada. I doubt your accent is worse than these two. It shouldn't be a barrier to your job.
Most of us feel bad for making mistakes in English, grammar mistakes, pronunciation mistakes, word usage mistakes. In my opinion, this is also unnecessary. When they pick you for interview, they're probably already prepared for bad English. For a technical position, what really matters is whether you can communicate. Language mistakes are not good, but they're not grounds for dismissal.
A lot of us also feel ashamed by Chinese English. I strongly disagree. A few days ago, I invented my own brand new Chinese English here on Rolia: man no beat me, me no beat man; man if beat me, me sure beat man. I bet most native English speakers could figure out its meaning. If they could understand, I see no reason to feel bad, or ashamed, or inferior. After all, language is just a tool for communication.
But they often don't understand what I say, you might object. In my opinion, most of the time, this is not caused by grammar mistakes or pronunciation mistakes, or Chinese English. Usually it's caused by the wrong choice of key words. Or by the unclear thoughts of the speaker: even if he puts them in Chinese, people may still not understand him. Recently, I saw the following sentence on Rolia following a discussion about whether one should tell the interviewer his current salary: "Is it legal to show your current payment information to whom may not hire you? why do most companies setup the role to keep confidential." Here, "payment" is a wrong choice of key word and could easily make people scratch their heads. "Role" is probably another wrong choice of key word and even I don't understand what the 2nd part means. The 2nd part could also be the result of unclear thinking of the author.
In short, be proud of your accent. Take it easy on your language mistakes. As long as you can communicate, you get an A in English. From me. And probably from your interviewer as well.
--- to be continued --- getting much longer than I thought so I'll take a break here.
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