In high school my English was not too good. I had a fear of failure. So, I wouldn’t speak out loud, unless I had to, afraid to make mistakes. I passed my exams, though my English teacher didn’t believe I would.
A few years later I went to study English at a college. They had no acceptance requirements, as long as I had a sufficient grade for my Dutch. The college accepted me.
At the end of the first week of college, I was asked to leave the college. They stated that they had believed that beside the fact that I was blind, I was perfect. They found out I had a hearing aid and concluded that since I had a bad hearing, I wouldn’t be able to learn a different language, because according to them, when you have a hearing loss, you are not capable of communicating.
I refused to leave. The next two years were a nightmare. They kept telling me my English was too poor, I was not able to learn it. When I would pass my exams, they would say, ‘Well yes, that is for the present, but we expect problems next term’. So, after two years of hearing this and fighting this, I believed I was dumb. I decided I wasn’t willing to struggle through another year and left.
Two years later I went to England to stay at English Labri. (?) I started with apologizing for my English, that it was so bad. They kept telling me my English was fine. In this environment my fear of failure lessened and I started to remember more and more words as I became more and more relaxed. I made American and English friends and kept in touch with them, which meant I kept communicating in English.
After a few years I applied for a Fullbright scholarship from the Netherlands to go to study in the States. The Dutch committee decided my English was too bad and denied me the scholarship. My American friends were flabbergasted.
Ten years later I visited England again. By then people thought English was my first language and did not even hear an accent. I was surprised and became more confident. Still, as soon as I would have to speak in English to a Dutch person, I would shut down.
During the past years I’ve done several schools in English over the world. Now I am confident in English, no matter who I speak to. The most amazing thing though is that Dutch people speak English to me because they think I don’t speak Dutch. People ask me whether my Dutch is as good as my English.
I believe God restored to me what the enemy intended and tried hard to destroy. But, not only do I speak freely with people in English, I’m writing this blog and plan to write a book, in English. I encourage you not to let fear of failure and what people say limit you. Define what you can, but go for God’s restoration.