From English Student to English-Speaking Tour Guide in 1 year!

July 15, 2022
By Jaimie-Lee Elvery
Chie recently started volunteering as an English-speaking tour guide at a local museum in Australia! As a Japanese woman who struggled to speak English 12 months ago, leading tours for native English speakers is something Chie never thought possible before joining Hey Lady!

But let’s rewind 12 months; back to the start of Chie’s experience moving to Australia.

Where it all began

Chie moved from Japan to Sydney in early 2021 and immediately enrolled in an English language school.

“When I moved here, I thought I could enjoy my new, Australian life by improving my English speaking and confidence skills, so that I could better communicate with Australian people.”

But, the COVID-19 pandemic quickly shattered this dream, forcing Chie (& millions around the world!) into lockdown.

All the English speaking opportunities she had been dreaming about disappeared. 

“It was such bad timing…I had just moved to Australia and was so lonely. My husband and my daughter were both studying and working remotely from home. So I was stuck in my bedroom… Alone.”

That’s when Chie joined Hey Lady! She had no idea what to expect at first; she just saw it as a way to improve her English speaking skills from the comfort (and safety!) of her own home. 

“That is where my journey really starts, and little by little, I started improving.”

Fast forward 12 months, and Chie now has Hey Lady! friends all over the world; she’s volunteering as an English-speaking tour guide; and says that Hey Lady! has “totally changed my life… I feel like I’m on cloud nine!”

From nervous speaker to confident communicator in less than a year...

How did Chie do it?

If there are three things we can learn from Chie’s English journey, they are:

  • Take small steps everyday to build your confidence & courage
  • Surround yourself with people who motivate you & keep you on track
  • Jump before you are ready, even (or especially!) when it scares you
1. Take small steps everyday

“At Hey Lady!, you have countless opportunities to grow if you want to! But it’s up to you to take the risks and jump in. Hey Lady! challenges me all the time; I have had so many ‘nervous’ moments. So many ‘try’ moments. But I’m so grateful for each of these opportunities, because they help me build up my courage little by little, to speak English. I have joined Toastladies (public speaking) events; I host my own events; and now, I do interviews like this one! I would never have done this 12 months ago!”

When reflecting on her English journey, Chie recalls 4 BIG risks that helped to propel her forward & level up her confidence. 

These were: 

  • Joining Hey Lady!
  • Hosting her own group conversations inside Hey Lady!
  • Being interviewed (twice!) in English by Emma Jakobi (mmmEnglish & Hey Lady! Founder)
  • Saying “yes” when she was asked to volunteer as an English-speaking tour guide.

But amidst these big steps, Chie took many, smaller steps along the way. Everyday actions and habits that have been building her confidence, without her even realising it. 

  • She showed up consistently: For the first 3 months inside Hey Lady!, Chie took every opportunity she could to speak English. She joined all the different types of events and lessons - Conversation Starters, New Member Meetups, Speaking Partner Speed Dating, Grammar Spot lessons and events hosted by other members. If she had 1 hour (or 30 minutes) to spare, Chie would be inside Hey Lady!
  • She found speaking partners: After 3 months, Chie had made many real, genuine friends who she would talk to each week in a one-to-one conversation inside Hey Lady! This became part of her routine and something she looked forward to each week. She quickly realised how easy it was to practise English - it was like catching up with a friend over coffee!
  • She set an achievable English goal: After 6 months, Chie started noticing a huge difference in her confidence and wanted to take her English to the next level. In January 2022 - with the encouragement of her speaking partners - she set herself a goal to host 4 group conversations inside Hey Lady! every month. Fast forward 6 months and Chie has hosted 30 group events (that’s 5 events per month - even more than her initial goal!). 

After 12 months in our community, Chie has joined over 300 events - that’s 300 hours of real English conversation! If you had told Chie this number 12 months ago, it would have seemed impossible - ridiculous even!

But, she simply showed up every day - whether for 30 minutes, 1 hour or 3 hours - and bit by bit, she built the courage and confidence to speak English a little more, in every conversation. 

2. Surround yourself with people who motivate you

If not for the support of other ladies here, Chie could have chosen to give up after her very first Hey Lady! event.

“I remember after my first conversation at Hey Lady!, my English was totally incoherent. I felt discouraged, discouraged, discouraged. But, when I started meeting friends in this community, they supported me and encouraged, encouraged, encouraged me - again and again." 

"They said, “Chie, it’s ok, let’s do it together! Let’s thrive together!" Their words encouraged me again and again, and I started to build up confidence - and friendship - little by little, after every event I went to. The ladies’ vibes always boost my courage. They encourage me so much! When my friends move forward, then I also move forward. The good vibes in this community encourage me and motivate me a lot!"

Chie’s Hey Lady! friends don’t just support her; they challenge her, encourage her and keep her accountable to the goals she has set for herself. 

“One of my friends encouraged me to start hosting my own group events. She made me realise that I could share what I know and love - Japanese art and culture - with many other women around the world (while practising my English!)."

"So, my New Year’s resolution was to host my own Japanese art events every month. And now - halfway through the year - I’ve finished 30 events. Ten different kinds of events, in three different timezones. I am so grateful to my friends here!”

This is what sets Hey Lady! apart from typical English schools and private tutors. Rather than studying alone or practising to yourself in the mirror, there are hundreds of women right beside you, who are all in the same boat! They’ve experienced the same doubts, same fears, same “what ifs?”. 

We are all on the journey, TOGETHER. We are all growing, TOGETHER. And just as Chie said, “we are all thriving, TOGETHER!”

And together, we can go so much further. 

3. Jump before you are ready, even when it scares you

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “No one is ever ready”, right? 

It’s true for becoming a parent; starting a business; entering a new relationship after a heartbreak; getting married; the list goes on… There’s no such thing as being ‘ready’, really.

There's a quote from Chris Murray that says:

“Ready? No one is ever ready… But some do what they plan to do and some never will. The difference between the two is that the first group understand that they need to start somewhere, so they do so. Straight away.”

I’m not sure if Chie has seen this quote herself, but she certainly lives it out

Did she feel ready enough, good enough or prepared enough before joining Hey Lady!? No! 
Did she feel ready to host her own group events? No!
Did she feel ready to guide her first museum tour in English? Definitely not!

Despite all the “nos”, she said "YES" to the opportunities first; did whatever she could to prepare for them; and then - she jumped.

“When I finished guiding my first tour in the museum, a lady from Perth who was in the group said to me, “Thank you! The tour was great! I was moved.” And in this moment, I felt overwhelming gratitude for Hey Lady! Because, not only could I speak English to native speakers, I have finally found a connection to people in Australia, and I was on cloud nine!” 

It took Chie courage - and a whole lot of it! - to step outside of her comfort zone and try something new. But if she hadn’t, she may never have found this new connection and sense of belonging in Australia - the place she now calls home.

And Chie has the support of a global community of women behind her, “boosting her courage”, so that she can keep boldly moving forward and learning how to express herself in English. 

“I am still in the middle of my English journey - I’m not done yet! - but little by little, day by day, I can connect with Hey Lady! members from around the world and continue to build my confidence. Hey Lady! has opened my borders, and allowed me to explore the world!”

If Chie is only in the middle of her English journey, we can’t wait to see what new opportunities await for her in the next few months - and years! 

What opportunities await YOU on the other side of fear and self-doubt? Will you take the jump and say YES, even if it scares you?

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