Please never apologise for your English

There is nothing to be sorry for.

Michael Freer


Photo by Ivan Shilov on Unsplash

When it comes to looking at privilege, there are many factors to take into account. I’m not even going to list them, with this title you know immediately I am going to talk about language.

Spanish is pretty handy, and Chinese increasingly so, but it’s English that takes the biscuit. Just by being a native speaker, I can suddenly find jobs all over the world. I can earn using a skill that I never really put my mind to, it just came naturally. After all I have been practising pretty much since birth.

I have most definitely tapped into this resource too, having taught English pretty much everywhere I’ve been. In universities, to the future of Cambodia, and in primary schools, to the youth of India. To businesswomen and men working in Argentina and to Chinese students in London.

It’s been an honour, and more often than not, a pleasure to meet such wonderful people looking to improve and hone their language skills. They are usually open to new things, keen to hear about cultural differences and everything that makes each our countries unique and interesting.

However there’s one problem.

First I would like to..


Just don’t.

Don’t do it.

It gets on my nerves, it rubs me the wrong way and drives me round the bend.

Those non-natives having the audacity to apologise for their English.

The minutes and hours and days that they have studied. Those pages and pages they have read and written. The umpteen times they have tried to get their head around pronunciation or the difference between the past simple and the present perfect. The teachers they have endured and the exams that were never the cherry on top.

Then they stand up there, in front of a few people or maybe a crowd of people. Slightly nervous as everyone watches them. And they apologise.

If I’m in the room, I tell them not to. I tell them they should be proud. The fact they have taken that step to talk in front of a group of people first of all. Then to go one further and do it in another language.



Michael Freer

Social enterprise enthusiast, avid traveller and fiction writer.