Fourth month… (The objective I set up)

When I initially came to Australia with the purpose of living an international experience and enhancing my English skills I conducted my own research to roughly estimate the time required to advance from one English proficiency level to the next one, for example moving from B1 advanced to B2 advanced. All this information is just an approximate idea which was based on basically one variable: number of hours immersed in the English language. 

This was the information given:

    1. 15 hours of English class per week.
    2. 15 hours per week in an English- only job.
    3. 5 hours per week of independent study at home.
    4. 5 hours per week practicing through daily life activities. 

Total: slightly more than 40 hours per week of English immersion.

The outcome revealed that each level (MCE) required a distinct number of study hours to be mastered. I started in B1 advanced but the entire B1 level needs between 350 to 400 hours to be overcomed whereas B2 demands 550 to 600 hours of study. In estimation, as I started in B1 advanced I should spend around 800 hours of immersion. Hence, I need 800 hours of study to finish B1 and B2 levels. That’s why, this first learning process is expected to take approximately 5 months to master B2 level. Next I should start C1 which takes in estimation 700 hours of study. It’s supposed that these 5 months will finish on February 11. 

In addition to my English classes, the environment in which I’ve definitely learned the most is at work. I’ve worked in Decathlon Australia since late September, 3.5 months ago. This job has helped me to improve my listening and my speaking due to I have to explain to customers about the cycling products, comparisons between products, advantages, disadvantages, solve queries, complaints, and so forth. Hence I’ve had to battle with my English and do my best. That’s why I feel grateful for the company.

I strongly believe that if I master my English skill it will be easier to create more value for it, to move up into the company, to get a better job or to find a quite well-paid online job. That’s why I want to master this language as much as I can and as soon as possible. 

However, it hasn’t been an easy task. Let me roughly explain why. 

The English language is a very wide language, it has an enormous amount of words, expressions, idioms, slangs and accents. Also, it’s one of the most spoken languages in the world and the official language for business worldwide which makes it more difficult because we have to be prepared to understand an outrageous number of accents. For instance, in my job I have to deal with a huge amount of them such as:

    1. Polish
    2. TurkisH
    3. German
    4. American (Only a few amount of people)
    5. Spanish
    6. Albanian
    7. Aussie
    8. Italian
    9. French
    10. Chinese 
    11. Indian
    12. Nepali
    13. Serbian
    14. Croatian
    15. Japanese 
    16. Korean
    17. Irish

Now do you understand why it has been very challenging for me?

I’ve been here for 4.5 months and I can’t objectively gauge my own progress. I don’t know whether I’ve improved quickly or slowly. But what I believe is that I’m expected to understand more than what I can understand today. So today my predominant feeling is about frustration. 

That’s why language is always a quite strong barrier when arriving in a new country. Moreover, many people decide to return to their home countries just to avoid dealing with the new language. And I absolutely agree with them because it is an extremely difficult process. I won’t follow the same path because I am determined to master it, despite feeling stressed out about the process. 

Why stressed out.  

A few months ago when I started my work for a company in Australia I was able to identify many differences with Colombian way of working, of course. Nevertheless, Colombian companies are far more strict, uptight and detail oriented than Aussie ones. I really believed that I could create more value for that company, helping to improve layouts, working with organization sense, efficiency, productivity, sales approach, stock availability, profitability, human strategy, and so on. I definitely improved many issues and intermediate tasks but that job, which was very important and crucial, was not a priority for my department. And also, it was even far more difficult to explain to the boss why that issues were quite important to the business,  customers, team and profitability… (Here I started to think… WHHHYYY is this fucking matter so important for me???)

So, here we have a cultural contrast. 

Once upon a time… I assisted to a quite important meeting. During this session, I presented my last 3 months economic performances and provided feedback to my boss specially focused on the team performance. I want him to know that we can perform better, we were not performing as the best team, we could work in an organised way and fulfill all the tasks successfully. To address this, I proposed implementing a team training about a technical company knowledge, set an objective for the entire team, address the team towards a clear direction and as a result we will sell 10% more in 3 months. My plan was quite simple, straightforward, cheap and encompassed a super SMART sales KPI !! I was absolutely sure My plan was going to be approved. In fact, I told my boss “if the plan doesn’t work, I quit”.

Conversely… The boss said “no, that is not my priority, at this moment we are doing all that we can. Some minutes later I tried to talk him into my proposal again because I strongly believed that it is a very important solution for many problems that we have !! 

I said something like:

“That is our opportunity to demonstrate leadership, address the team and perform better. Economic performance was going to be far better”

But… he said again… “now we are doing all that we can” “we are doing our best”

But, I acknowledge that my idea was kind of difficult to sell because of I am not very talented on persuade in this language, YET.

I absolutely disagree about it, I strongly believed that I know when a team is not performing well, when a team can perform better, when a team is not well hired and I know that we also have enough time to carry out all the tasks. 

That’s one of the most difficult parts for me at my job, it’s really a cultural shock. Probably I am not right but… we will see it in a couple of months, just stay tuned with this blog 🙂

As it is well known, Latinoamerican and Colombian companies are recognized for giving employees as many tasks as they can while reducing time to do it, of course expecting the best results. Obviously. One person doesn’t do the job of 2 but 3 or even 4. Which is also the opposite side, in some opportunities they can abuse people. The matter is that taking into account what I stated before, Latins are used to working hard, performing in a multitasking way and fulfilling the assigned objectives. Our mindset has to be with «make things happen» «fail is not an option». 

I just think of how different my mind works… I can not understand many things about some overseas economic cultures. However, I will find out that answers. So many questions… very few answers now… Spade is a Spade !

Is it true that in the XXI century one employee said to the boss that he is able to train the team, improve the job of all the team, set challenging objectives, improve the productivity and sell 10% more and the boss just say: «It’s not my priority”?

Anyway, now it’s ok for me. I’m feeling good at the moment because I raised my hand and said what I thought.

On the other hand, I definitely feel grateful because I am managing to achieve my language goal. The rest it’s just because I want to stress myself out and go further. 

Do you think that sometimes it is better just to follow orders?


1. I have thought that its not about the cultural shock. It’s about my way of perceiving the work and the live. It’s a pretty precise and strict working approach in which I set up an objective with the purpose of strive to win, pivote, learn, improve… 

Do you know what I mean?

2. My emotional environment isn’t messy but strong moments of frustration often arise to me.

3. I began to create an strategy to pivot. What if I don’t feel good in 4 or 5 months? Am I able to struggle with this situation for 2 o 3 years more? That’s why I made up an B strategy. Thats how my mind works… strategies, steps, objectives, A, B, C, D, 1, 2, 3, 4… and YES I feel happy with that ! some people are used to criticize em way of thinking but I feel it always has given me great results. My Lean Startup mindset 🙂 

4. My English learning process is still between 50% to 60%. Based on my personal feelings. Others are used to say that I speak far more than 60% but I do not feel it. I keep on failing all my Cambridge listening exams with 50%.

5. I have to get over some annoying situation. The day of Cambridge listening test means the words day of the month and probably this horrible feeling keeps on my mind for the next 3 o 4 days. I hate to be tested on that. It’s such a annoying situation that I’ve just decided not to write more about it in my Blog and stop presenting this test for a period of time.

6. I’m striving with my goal of speak fluent English, I’m doing my best at work with my customers, colleagues and bosses. It’s still quite hard but I enjoy while speaking English. My goal is still alive and at the moment I’ve got a good average English level but definitely it is not enough. At least it’s what I think.

7. My personal psychologist is also struggling to help me see things differently. It’s not about changing who I’m because I’m wrong but helping me not be so tough on myself.

Do you have some feedback or comment for me?

I’ll be happy to read you.

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