Someone said: “To learn English, one has to think in English”.
My first language is Mandarin. My parents spent a lot of money for me to learn English since I was young. However, my pronunciation and spelling is still terrible, grammar is so so only. Didn’t start to use English in everyday life until I came to Australia nearly 12 years ago. It was okay when I first came to Australia, all the English I learnt before was enough for me to go through simple everyday life, but not enough for university courses. However, I still finished my university studies and got my degrees.
Working in a company with colleagues from many different countries doesn’t really help in improving English, because English is not their first language either. The strange thing is that I can understand nearly 95% of TV shows, 95% of what my Australian colleagues and friends are saying, but I can never reach 100%.
I found out one thing very interesting. When I think, I think in English most of the times. When I speak, I don’t translate them from Mandarin to Chinese before I speak, I just speak in English directly. Does that mean my English is getting better? I don’t think so.
I still have problem express myself in English, but I have the same problem with Mandarin. Maybe it is not related to which language I use, it is related to how I think.