You know what sucks?
Understanding a language but not being able to speak it confidently.
Is that you?
Maybe you understand all your favorite movies in English, but when you come face-to-face with a native speaker... you freak out, your voice starts to shake, and you get super nervous.
I learned Spanish, so I know the feeling.
And the reason it's so hard to improve our confidence is because confidence is a feeling, not a skill. Your confidence, or lack of it, is a direct reflection of how you perceive your own ability.
It actually doesn't matter how good or bad your English is. Confidence doesn't depend on fluency, although it often feels like it does.
Anyhow, you know you struggle with confidence if...
- You hate to make mistakes
- You worry people won't understand you
- You wish you could hide your accent
- You get nervous when you speak
- You compare yourself to native speakers and other English learners
- You feel like your English is never good enough
Alright, let's fix this.
First, you have to understand where your lack of confidence comes from.
It comes from fear... fear of messing up, fear or looking like a fool, fear of failure, fear of being judged.
And our fears come from our needs... the need to impress others, to feel comfortable, to be in control, to be admired, to succeed.
It's a cycle.
I don't know which comes first, the chicken or the egg, but I do know 5 things that will help you overcome your lack of confidence in English so you can speak like the smart individual that you are... regardless of your mistakes.
Let's get started!
1. Stop caring what other people think
This is easier said than done, but you gotta stop caring what other people think about your English. Yes, you can improve. But worrying about it won't help. And here's the truth: we often worry about what others think when, in reality, we are our own worst critic. This means your expectations of yourself are usually higher than anyone else's. So, don't worry what others think about your English. And, while you're at it, make sure you aren't standing in your own way either.
2. Don't apologize for your mistakes
Every time you say "sorry for my bad English," you're saying your English isn't good enough. You're not giving yourself credit for all the hard work you've put into getting where you are today. So don't do that! Take pride in how far you've come. Give yourself some credit! Make a cake, throw a party, and celebrate your achievement because learning a language is HARD. And I bet you're way better than you think you are!
3. Give yourself permission to mess up
Making mistakes is inevitable. It's also expected because communication isn't as easy as 2+2=4. The sooner you accept that, the better. Learn from your mistakes and let them go. Every mistake you've ever made is in the past, so there's nothing you can do about it now. Every mistake you'll make in the future? Well, you haven't made them yet, so no need to stress about something that hasn't even happened!
4. Practice more
Alright, now let's get real. You won't improve your confidence in English if you don't practice. Listen, the reason you tie your shoes on autopilot is because you've done it a million times. It's easy to be confident when you are good at something. And anyone who is great at anything has spent HOURS, DAYS, and YEARS perfecting their skills. So, if you want to speak English like you tie your shoes, practice.
5. Do things that scare you
Are you afraid of talking with native speakers? Then that's what you need to do to build confidence in English. Are you afraid of making videos in English and putting them on YouTube? Then that's what you need to do to build your confidence. Are you afraid of doing interviews in English? Then that's what you need to do to practice, improve your skills, and build your confidence. Everything we achieve adds to the confidence we have in our own ability. So, if your confidence isn't growing in English, it's because you are playing it safe. You're hiding in your comfort zone. If you want to get confident, you have to face the fears that scare your pants off and overcome them.
Well, that's it, my friends!
At the end of the day, speaking confidently isn't about making grammatically correct, academic textbook-like sentences...
You could be the worst English speaker in the world and still the most confident. Confidence is a feeling, and you decide how much you will allow yourself to have.
So speak English.
Don't be shy.
And be confident.
You got this! :)