曾任花旗銀行首席經濟學家的鄭貞茂,在外商工作10年,卻放棄人人稱羨的優渥薪資,投身金融 研訓院,為台灣培養更多一流金融人才。鄭院長經常在各大論壇講座分享全球經濟趨勢,少有人知 道,他的英文學習之路,充滿曲折。

Learning a foreign language is never easy for a person living in Taiwan, especially in the environment of the 70s and 80s that I grew up in. The traditional style of teaching English often came with lots of exams focusing on grammar and reading comprehension. Speaking was never being emphasized, as there weren't any spoken tests in junior or senior high school. As a result, readers can understand why I was extremely nervous in my rst English class with my colleagues. However, I was not the only one that felt awkward in the class. The teacher was a very beautiful American-born Chinese (ABC). When she tried to break the ice by asking students of their favorite hobby, one of my classmates blurted out, "I like playboy" when what she really meant was "I love playing ball". This cracked everyone up! This event started my long-enduring English journey (or adventure if you would like to call it that) that was full of frustrations and setbacks, but which eventually rewarded me with my current achievements.

第一次和同事一起上英文課,同事對著美麗的老師說,「I like playboy.」他其實想說「我愛打球。」一句話讓課堂哄堂大笑,也正好看出台灣人學英文的困境:長期忽略口說能力,無法開口閒聊。

Later when I decided to pursue a doctorate degree in the U.S., I prepared for the TOFEL and GRE exams and luckily received high enough scores to be admitted into the Ph.D. program of a famous U.S. university. Subsequently, I took my first long flight across the Pacific Ocean. Panic suddenly overwhelmed me when the flight stewardess asked me, "Beef or Pork". I never expected such a question and as a result I totally forgot all my vocabulary. Time was running short as I obviously had to make a quick answer. "I would like a steak please" was the only wording that I could immediately think of at the time. The flight stewardess looked at me in a seemingly are-you-looking-for-trouble manner but answered politely, "Sir, we don't serve steak in economy class".

前往美國攻讀博士學位,還在飛機上就碰到第一個困難。空服員詢問要吃牛肉或豬肉,「beef or pork」,我腦中居然一片空白,一個字也想不起來。緊張之下回答「I would like a steak please.」空服員一臉不可置信,答道:「先生,我們經濟艙不提供牛排喔。」

Because of my poor spoken English, I failed to pass the test that would qualify me to be a teaching assistant (TA). This was one of the low points of my life, as the scholarship and tuition waiver that came with the TA position would have been very important to me financially. I did however, successfully acquire a TA job on the second try and taught for three semesters. Talking about the professional subject was not an issue for me, but explaining theory with vivid examples was sometimes too much. I still remember some of the comments that students gave me at the end of each semester. The first time I saw comments like "You are awesome" made me really upset as I mistook the word "awesome" for "awful". A truely bitter comment on the other hand, was "to be able to understand your English, I had to totally forget what you were teaching". I had a hard time even in daily conversations with my classmates. Eventually, I regained my confidence as my American friends helped me in many daily activities, and these friendships grew more and more when my friends gradually began to understand what I said. Later, I realized that this was not due to improvements in my speaking, but rather to the improved ability of my friends to understand what I was saying.

英文不好讓我錯過成為助教的機會,也失去與之而來的獎學金與薪水。這對初到美國,亟需經濟支援的我是一大挫敗。不放棄再努力一次,成功了,但真正的挑戰現在才開始。站在台上談專業知識都不是問題,面對學生的提問最頭痛,當時連生活對話都有困難,更別說是深入淺出,用日常口語解釋複雜的金融概念。甚至期末收到學生毒舌的評論:「為了聽懂你的英文,我完全忘了你在教什麼。」

Every cloud has a silver lining. The long years of experience in the U.S made me unafraid to speak English in public, (although I can't say that that is completely the case as I still face the same challenge of making other people understand my English) and later I was able to work for a foreign bank in Taiwan.

In contrast with my peers, my courage to speak gave me opportunities to present or to make speeches at many international forums and seminars.

Despite the fact that my current position doesn't require me to speak English that much, I still enjoy the dialogues or conversations with the many foreign clients that come to Taiwan. I hope that this short story can inspire someone who is as much afraid of English as I was to become braver in learning this language. Bon Voyage!

有了這一段在美國生活的經驗,我不再害怕在公開場合說英文,回台後也得以進入外商銀行工作。開口就贏得在國際論壇和研討會上演說的機會。儘管現在在金融研訓院主要輔導對象是台灣大眾,我還是熱愛與來台的國外客戶交談。渴望溝通,比很會講英文重要!

三個月英文脫胎換骨的一對一:http://goo.gl/5eIOmf