There have been many times that I have found living in the UK to be frustrating and difficult due to the language barrier. In everyday situations my lack of knowledge about the language affects me, whether it is because I was not able to understand the news, write letters, or speak with confidence in social situations.
When I first came to England, I thought that I would be able to learn the language within a year. However, now 9 years have passed and still the language barrier remains a big obstacle for me.
While living in the UK, I have met many good people, but due to my very basic English abilities I am unable to share in deep conversations with them or get to know them on a more personal level.
This communication problem has especially proved to be frustrating at parent’s evenings at my son’s nursery, as I am unable to answer the teacher’s questions or ask questions of my own, regarding my child’s well being.
The first place I went to, upon arriving in England, was a class in Kingston. I never wanted to give up. I soon realised that I was the only student in the class that was not fluent in English and this proved to be an issue.
One day, after the end of a class, my teacher said to me that I needed to go and study English before I returned to her lessons. As a result of my lack of English, I had to leave the class after having only been there for 2 months and so could not get my license.
Additionally, since the birth of my son, I have frequently had to visit the hospital whenever he was ill. However, because I could not fully explain his symptoms, simply answering with a yes to every question that the doctor asked me, I could not get the correct prescription for my child.
Nearby my house is a local library and even though there are many books that I would like to read, I always give up due to my limited English.
I am not fluent in English and so many problems arise, but I believe that I am not alone in this as many other North Koreans living in England experience these same issues. I realised that to live in England learning English is not optional but essential.
I hope to be a mother who is able to provide a better life for my child and family by improving my English. Not only this but I also wish to better my English so I can take a more active role to help out with the hardships many face.
We’re starting a Community Centre to help North Koreans overcome these challenges. Please donate whatever you can: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/NKCommunity