Becoming Fluent in English for WORK: Fabiola’s Success Story!

September 1, 2022
By Jaimie-Lee Elvery
Fabiola is a Physicist and former PhD student from Mexico, who previously struggled to talk about her work and research in English! But just four months after joining our community and speaking English regularly, Fabiola felt confident enough to do a major presentation for her peers and scientists around the world, in English! 

“I was SO proud of myself for finishing my presentation. Even though I made a mistake on one slide, I had the tools, the training, and the confidence to continue on and keep talking about my work in English.”

“I felt so proud in that moment - and I still am.” 

Fast forward to today and Fabiola can not only talk about her work in English; she can confidently engage in meaningful conversations, express her opinions and be herself - something that felt impossible before joining our community.

Of course, the biggest reason Fabiola achieved these goals was her incredible wealth of knowledge and expertise. But as Fabiola described it, knowledge was never the issue; she just didn’t have the words - or the confidence - to put her expertise into English words at networking events or in presentations.

Fabiola’s challenge: Expressing her professional knowledge in English

“To speak about my work before, I needed to make a script and practise, but it’s not the same as just being able to talk about it freely. Even when you learn a script line by line, sometimes you forget what you need to say next and you have to fall back on your own knowledge to continue speaking. So, even though I felt very secure and confident in my knowledge about what I was working on, it was frustrating because I couldn’t express that knowledge in English!

I used to have these insecurities… I was very shy to speak. Sometimes I couldn’t even finish one sentence! I wasn’t able to speak English. I was uncomfortable and very afraid to speak - not only about my work, but in general! At that point, I was still teaching myself, translating words I didn’t know online, and looking for ways to express what I was thinking in Spanish and write it in English. It was very difficult for me to speak in little chit chat with other people… It was very difficult."

“At that time, I didn’t think my English was good enough. But I knew I had to join Hey Lady! because I needed to try something different! I knew that watching English on YouTube was not the solution to achieve my goal... I needed something to help me speak and feel less afraid in English…” 

“And Hey Lady! has helped me do that! That’s why I stay here - because I just keep improving!”

Keep reading to find out 3 key ways Hey Lady! helped Fabiola build the confidence and fluency to speak about her research and ultimately, to express her thoughts and opinions clearly in English!

1. Hey Lady! gives her FLEXIBILITY! 

“What I love about Hey Lady! is that I can use the tools and opportunities here to achieve the goals in front of me in that moment. What I do here changes, depending on what skills I need to improve at that particular time. So I like that we can pick and choose which activities and tools we want to use to help us reach our next goal, which might change next week, next month or next year!”

As Fabiola has progressed through different stages of her career, her English goals have shifted accordingly. When she first joined Hey Lady!, her #1 goal was to build as much fluency as she could in a short amount of time (just four months!), so that she could present her PhD research to peers and scientists around the world, in English.

That presentation is actually the reason she joined Hey Lady! in the first place - she needed to find a place where she could practise speaking whenever she wanted, and practise a variety of skills, including speaking fluency, vocabulary and pronunciation. So, when she first joined our community, she committed to joining 1-2 English conversations inside Hey Lady!, everyday. She joined multiple Study Groups in our community, and utilised all the lessons and workshops that she could in this short amount of time. 

Now that she has achieved her goal of presenting her research in English and completed her PhD (two incredible achievements!), her new goal is to find a job in her area of research.

She knows this one isn’t as time sensitive as her last goal - and that she has already built a strong fluency foundation - so she has simply reduced the amount of time she spends practising English each week, and adjusted the activities she focuses on inside Hey Lady!, to meet her new goal. Rather than joining 1-2 conversations everyday, she committed to joining 3-4 each week, and decided to explore some different ways to practise English on the Hey Lady! platform.

💡Learning a language is like a health & fitness journey, don’t you think?

For example, the tools and training sessions you use to lose weight or become leaner are quite different to the tools and training sessions you use to build muscle or put on weight, right? And if your goal was to maintain your fitness level, weight or muscle? The tools and sessions would be different again! 

I think the same goes for your English practice! There really is no “one size fits all” approach to practising and improving your English, just like there’s no hard and fast rule to achieving your fitness goals! The practice (or “training”) you do should reflect the outcome you are looking for, at each point of your journey.

Your goals - or the things you want to achieve - will change overtime, as you progress through different stages of your career or your English journey (which is very much the case for Fabiola!) The most important thing is that you find a flexible way to practise and improve your English, in line with your changing goals, interests and capacity.

And this is what Hey Lady! is all about! 

Interested to find out how Hey Lady! could help you achieve the English goals you are working towards right now? Click here to sign up for a free 10-day trial!

2. Hey Lady! gives her DIVERSITY!

At Hey Lady!, you get to “choose your own English adventure”! There are endless opportunities for you to practise speaking English, and you can mix and match whichever activities interest you or align with your goals!

For Fabiola, this diversity definitely helps her stay engaged and motivated. So, she joins three different conversations each week inside Hey Lady!, which each help her improve specific English skills and move closer to her goals. 

Every week, Fabiola joins:
  • 1 x conversation with her Hey Lady! Study Group ➔ This gives her the opportunity to study something different with her group each week!
“We meet together once every week and always practise in different ways - it’s not always the same, and I think that’s what keeps it interesting! We ask each other questions about words or concepts we don’t understand, and we help each other. It doesn’t feel like we are studying, because we’re among friends! We try to do different things to have fun, that will help us move forward… Just without the stress or pressure to be perfect all the time!” 
  • 1 x Conversation Starter (an event led by our expert English Coaches, which you can read about here) ➔ This is where she meets new people in small-group conversations, practises her speaking skills, and gets feedback from her English Coach.
  • 1 x one-to-one conversation with a Speaking Partner ➔ As an introvert, Fabiola doesn’t always want to join group conversations; she really enjoys getting to know women personally in one-to-one conversations.
“I like talking to different ladies and getting the opportunity to know them personally. I am an introvert and am very shy - even in person in my native language it is very hard for me to share my opinions. But when I am talking one-to-one with ladies on this platform, I feel like I have something to share with them. I feel like I am heard here, and I also love hearing them.”

Before joining Hey Lady!, Fabiola tried several different ways to improve her English. From reciting the same words over and over again in high school, to learning on YouTube and using Google Translate throughout her Bachelor and Masters degree. But none of these methods excited her to learn English - they were simply a means to an end.

(Hint! A means to an end is something that is not important to you, but is necessary to achieve a specific goal). 

However, when she joined Hey Lady!, she realised that it is possible to enjoy practising English, after all! 

“It’s like exercise! At Hey Lady!, you can choose to do the type of ‘exercise’ (or English practice) you really enjoy! After all, exercising can be very boring and frustrating, and hard to complete. And it’s the same for practising English - it can be boring sometimes! But at Hey Lady! you can find joy in what you are doing!” 

3. Hey Lady! gives her ACCOUNTABILITY!

Studying English on your own can only get you so far… We’ve seen time and time again at Hey Lady! that true English success - that is, having the confidence to speak English fluently & be yourself in English - comes from the support, encouragement and accountability of having English-speaking friends and speaking partners. 

And the same is true for Fabiola!

“Something that helped me stay on the right track - and that continues to keep me motivated to practise -  was joining study groups at Hey Lady! The Big Sisters helped me join a study group with other women who have the same availability and similar interests as me, and we’ve been practising together every week since!”

Having a group of women who rely on Fabiola to prepare and show up for a conversation at the same time every week has helped her implement a routine and stick to it! If we continue the analogy of ‘exercise’, finding friends to practise English with (whether it’s a study group or a speaking partner) is a bit like having a “gym buddy” - it makes English practice so much more enjoyable and rewarding, and helps you to show up and practise, even when you may not feel like it! 

In fact, we’re so convinced that friendship and accountability is the key to staying motivated and on track, that we’ve designed the entire Hey Lady! experience around it!

We help you find “your people” - women who are available to speak when you are, who have similar interests and English levels as you! Friends to share stories with. Study partners to learn with and motivate you. A new network of English-speaking women who will help you take your English skills to the next level. 

A recent study out of American Society of Training and Development found that “people are 65% likely to achieve a goal after committing it to another person. Their chances of success increase to 95% when they build in ongoing meetings with their accountability partners to check in on their progress.”

This simple concept is what propelled Fabiola forward and helped her keep moving forward, despite all the self-doubt and obstacles along the way!  

“Sometimes you need to take a step forward to get to the next goal, and sometimes it feels like there is an invisible wall in front of you that isn’t letting you move forward. But having a study group of women around you helps you stay accountable to your goals and helps you find the motivation to do something with a group. This is one of my favourite parts of Hey Lady!

These 3 things - flexibility, diversity and accountability - helped Fabiola develop the confidence and fluency to not only speak about her work in English, but to engage in meaningful conversations in every aspect of life!

“When I joined Hey Lady!, it was like a new door opened for me… There is a huge difference between my fluency at the start and how I feel now. Imagine the struggle of not being able to finish a single sentence. Now, I can understand you and answer your questions about my work - and anything else! - without fear, which makes me feel like ‘Wow, I am speaking!’ I can have a conversation confidently with another person - even a native English speaker like you!”

“The change is huge, and sometimes I can’t believe it!"

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