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Igor Matyushkin
Igor Matyushkin

Posted on

My English is not perfect. Why would you hire me?

What makes a good developer?

Firstly, algorithmic thinking - a skill of building solutions by using logic chains where each element is a step on our way to the final result. Sorry if that sounds too boring.

Secondly, willingness to learn. Yes, programming is not for people who hadn't read a single book after they graduate the university. We, developers, read a lot. At least, we should.

Thirdly, a good programmer should understand the value of their work. You have to ask yourself: "Does the result of my work help my customer to improve their business? Does it bring a profit to those who paid my invoices? Are they satisfied with my service at all?"

You could notice, there's nothing about perfect English. Why? Because it really doesn't matter in the modern IT industry. I know a lot of great developers from Russia, Ukraine, China, South Africa and other places. They're all amazing guys who code like heroes despite their English skills are not perfect. When they work with clients from the United States, they mostly use text chat for communication. So do I. It helps everyone (including developers and their clients) to save the key moments of the discussion, which, on the other hand, is really hard to do when you have a long voice call.

Yeah, sometimes I confuse articles (a and the) because my native language doesn't have them. Sometimes I use wrong forms of English verbs. I could say a phrase in "past simple" when it supposed to be in the "past perfect" (and vise versa). My clients find that to be fine so I'm not afraid and I never was afraid to take the risk of braking the grammar because I always knew: my clients understand me perfectly. Or maybe "perfect"? Who cares!

That's the most important thing in the business: we have to understand each other. Poor verbal English doesn't make me a bad developer and it doesn't stop me from getting the job done. As the practice showed, language barrier in the software development is not that scary. It might be really scary in other industries though.

So, getting back to the title, why would you hire me? Of course, no pressure. You may hire who you want and it shouldn't necessarily be me. What I want to say by this article is that the programming skillset (so-called "hard skills") means much more than ability to talk like a native. That's gonna be another huge trend for 2020s.


I'd appreciate if you share your thoughts on the subject of this article. Seriously, drop a line. If my English skills allow me I will respond, LOL :D

Discussion (6)

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jeikabu profile image
jeikabu

I've worked in China and Japan, and now work mostly with people from CIS. When asked about language my usual reply is, "we all speak C++"- which generally garners a laugh.

IMHO, it's not a huge issue with Google translate (amongst others) and prevalence of online platforms like chat as you mentioned- I've text chatted with people sitting near me. It does help to have at least one person on the team that can bridge the gap; catch when people are talking past each other and resolve confusion, deal with the occasional video call and catch all the details, etc. Sometimes all it takes is speaking simply and plainly, being helpful (and polite!), and a bit of patience.

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russo_programmisto profile image
Igor Matyushkin Author

we all speak C++

That's amazing! I'm going to use it for my programming language, it would be like "we all speak Swift" :)

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yuhuishishishi profile image
I love integers

Good communication skills are really helpful. And they are not simply tied to language levels.
For example, if you can summarize an issue using precise and simple words, and know what information to attach so that others can quickly grasp what you said and know how to help you, then that is already appreciated and a strong indication of good communication skills, even the words and grammar you used are elementary school level.

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kareemegy profile image
KarimMostafa • Edited on

great article, I think if you can communicate well with people and they can understand you so it doesn't matter if your English accent or your grammar is not perfect because they can understand you which is the goal of communicating with someone :)

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russo_programmisto profile image
Igor Matyushkin Author

Yeah, if you are a good programmer then no one cares how good your English is.

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jswalker_in profile image
jswalker.in

My 2 cents :
I write and pronounce "var" instead of "Variable"

Hire me if you speak same as me :)