Today’s blog is about CONFIDENCE, which is such an important topic when it comes to learning a foreign language. I would say that almost all of my students came to me looking for help with confidence in speaking English. They want to be able to speak without pauses, express themselves clearly, and be able to talk about a variety of topics. In my classes, we work on all of these areas — learning new vocabulary, discussing important issues and daily activities, practicing pronunciation — but how do you LEARN to be more confident? Well, after having studied three languages, I discovered that even though many people think that vocabulary and grammar are the essentials to confident speaking, there are other changes you must make in order to BUILD the confidence you need and want to have. So, what should you do?
To start, STOP being scared of making mistakes. Mistakes while speaking in English are the best way to learn new things because they help you REMEMBER key vocabulary in the future. The mistake leaves an IMPRESSION on your mind and for that reason is easier to retrieve from your memory in the future. As a student of foreign languages, it is impossible to avoid making mistakes here and there, so the sooner you become COMFORTABLE with it, the better you will feel and communicate.
Most importantly, learn to LAUGH at yourself. Don’t take your English learning so seriously that you stop having FUN and enjoying the journey. Sometimes you are going to say something with the wrong pronunciation or make a grammar mistake that makes the other person laugh. This is NATURAL and happens to everyone, myself included in Spanish, Italian, and French – so you should learn how to handle it in the best way. Be positive! Laugh with them, and take it as a chance to learn. Ask them, while SMILING: “Did I say something wrong?”…”Oh no, did I make a mistake?”…”Wait. What do you think I just said?” No matter what you said wrong – treat it like a funny error. Don’t get sad or disappointed and lose focus of the conversation! This will make the moment LESS embarrassing and people will RESPECT you for being curious (and confident!), NOT self-conscious.
In addition, DON’T APOLOGIZE for saying something incorrectly. Instead, say “Thank you!”…”Cool, I didn’t know that!”…”Oh ok, now I get it.” When you apologize (say “I am sorry”) you are showing that you are nervous about your speaking and not PROACTIVE about improving. However, when you express GRATITUDE for the new information you show the other person that you are EAGER to learn, which shows that you are confident in yourself.
Finally, once you learn to BE OKAY with not knowing or understanding something someone says at first, you will open up the door to learning more and expressing yourself better in English. Asking someone to repeat what they said is something native speakers do with each other all the time, and that means YOU can too! The following phrases can help you in these situations: “Pardon?”…”Excuse me, what was that?”…”Come again?”…”What was that you said?”…”Say that again please?”…”Can you explain what you mean to me?” So ask questions until you understand! People will think you are stronger for admitting that you don’t know, and as they say, Knowledge is POWER.
So, get out there and start practicing without fear and without worries! I promise it is not as scary as it seems!
If you are interested in more information, or would like to schedule classes to improve confidence or any other area in English, please contact me today at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also don’t forget to check out my facebook page for daily tips and posts! Take care, and talk to you soon!