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Question How to become friends with a shy person with English as her 2nd language? - September 12th 2015, 06:43 PM

I'm a junior in highschool. Since I came here I often saw a girl in the hallways and in a few of my non core (classes like gym, journalism, art) classes, and she was always alone. I've never seen her talk to anybody other than this one time last year when a boy was making fun of her (he makes fun of all the "different" younger, or nerdy girls. He was also bullying me at the time) who I immediately scared away from her. I found out later that year that she was in a non-English study hall, where the kids who were not completely fluent in English went to learn how to talk to teachers and work on speaking only English in school. We went though the rest of the year with nothing more than eye contact.

This year, however, we started having actual classes together. She is in my first period gym and my last period journalism class. She doesn't talk very loud so sometimes I can't hear her, and her very thick accent makes it hard to understand her sometimes. I have to ask her to repeat herself a lot and I don't want to make her feel insecure when talking to me. It's not one sided, she'll come sit next to me without calling her over when she can, and that tells me that she might want to be friends too. The most information I got about her was that she went to Pakistan this summer and got a lot of clothes that she could wear, because it's hard to find clothes her religion will allow in America. She wears a headscarf too, so I'm pretty sure she's Muslim. I really want to be her friend, but don't want to make her feel insecure when talking to me. How do I approach this so I can understand her?
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Re: How to become friends with a shy person with English as her 2nd language? - September 12th 2015, 06:54 PM

Hey there,
I've had some friends in school who recently came to the US or their parents do not speak English. I think that you can still do activities together like eating lunch or maybe as partners for gym.

What came to mind was written language. This will not only help her improve her English immensely but she is probably more comfortable texting. I think talking to her by online or text messaging can go a long way. Then in school, it may be slow conversations at first but you'd be developing a friendship at the same time by written word at the same time, at least until she gets to a level of speaking fluent English.

Another idea is if you teach each other exchanging languages. Maybe you can pick up some of the words in her native language and she for English so you'd sorta meet midway.
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Re: How to become friends with a shy person with English as her 2nd language? - September 13th 2015, 03:41 AM

Honestly, I think you are doing the best you can. When there is a language barrier there are going to be times when the person is going to have to repeat themselves because you don't understand. However, it's possible that there might be times when you will have to repeat yourself because she doesn't quite understand. I wouldn't worry too much about making her feel bad instead you should continue trying to make contact with her and see where the friendship goes. If you become more comfortable with her you could, possibly, ask her if she gets insecure if you ask her to repeat herself. You might actually find out that this doesn't make her insecure.

The most important thing is that you are being kind to her and trying to initiate friendship. You said it doesn't seem like she has that so I am sure she cares more about that then she does anything else.

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