I have been a member of this Toastmasters club (Chatswood Early Risers) for 12 years. Why so long? Haven’t I learn to speak yet? The reason I am here is to keep improving my skills. Just like an athlete or musician – I need to do regular practice.
Today I am starting my Competent Communicator manual – for the fourth time And because I am an experienced Toastmaster I like to give back to the club by mentoring new members and evaluating speeches.
First, some information about myself. You may be wondering how old I am. I am going to make you guess but I will give you a couple of clues. My daughters are aged 22 and 24 but my graying hair is not a direct result of raising girls.
I don’t think of age as how many years I have been alive. Age is about attitude and intention. I like to live life to the fullest each day – but still willing to change, grow and explore new things.
This is one of the reasons I like having younger friends. I enjoy their optimism and enthusiasm for life.
So what is my job? I am in a career transition at the moment. I worked in IT for a long time – most recently as a software trainer and creating E-learning but the job was made redundant earlier this year.
After much procrastination and a holiday to Vietnam and Cambodia, I enrolled in a 10 week CELTA course to become a qualified English Teacher. Now I am contacting English colleges to find work.
I chose to become an English teacher because I realized how much I enjoyed mentoring the members in this club who have English as their second language.
What I really enjoy about this Toastmasters club is the vast range of speech topics. The speeches are far more interesting that what I used to hear in the office.
Let me tell you about a past member of the club – a Korean man named Chi Keun Son who used the name of Sydney Son. Sydney spoke about Korean culture. In one speech he explained the Korean writing system which is called Hangeul. He used a large hand drawn chart to explain the sounds and symbols. I was so inspired by his speech that I challenged myself (in May 2012) to learn to read and write Korean.
In another speech, Sydney told us about the most famous Korean food – kimchi – which is pickled vegetables with garlic, chilli and vinegar. He brought in some home made kimchi to use as a visual aid. Not only was it a visual aid but we got to enjoy the pungent smell.
Since then I have become very interested in the Korean language and culture. I have been teaching myself using books, YouTube and audio recordings. I get help with speaking and listening with my Korean friends here in Sydney as well as online language exchange. I help them with English, in return for helping me with Korean.
Korean is not a common language for Australians to learn – Japanese and Mandarin are the popular Asian languages. Korean people get quite a shock when I start speaking in their language. In my English teaching course I surprised a Korean student by correctly writing her name in Hangeul.
Learning a foreign language is a wonderful way to explore a culture and to connect with the people. I plan to visit Korea next year so I am motivated to improve my speaking skills.
So what lies ahead for my future? I am establishing myself in a new career and doing something I love – helping people communicate in English.
And I love public speaking which is why I am here – to become a better speaker and to hear and support others in this club.
I look forward to presenting here again and sharing my stories, ideas and life experience with you all.
This is the text of my ice-breaker speech presented to the Chatswood Early Risers Toastmasters club on Tuesday 3rd November 2015.
You can read more about my interest in Korean in this article – The Why and How of Korean.