Updated: Apr 30
How can I finally speak without doubts and fears? How can I feel like myself when speaking English? These were questions that I kept asking myself.
I'll be honest with you: at first, I got discouraged and just couldn’t stop overthinking. Until one day I realised, this is natural. It is normal and okay to feel this way, as this is part of my learning process. Most of us, if not all, will go through this at some point when we choose to learn a language or any new skill.
-Foreign Language Anxiety-
When we learn a language, we aim to feel confident and sound natural when we speak. We want to express our ideas clearly and feel free to speak our thoughts. We want to be understood and to easily get a grasp on what others are saying when we have conversations in English, especially with native speakers. But then, we also feel terrified. We panic when someone starts speaking to us, and somehow we cannot focus on understanding what this person is saying anymore as anxiety takes over us.
The fear of speaking a foreign language is far more common than you might think. Many language learners suffer from anxiety and nervousness, and the symptoms can vary from mild to severe.
Foreign language anxiety, also known as xenoglossophobia, is the feeling of uneasiness, worry, nervousness, and apprehension in learning or using a second or foreign language. Although all aspects of using and learning English can cause anxiety, speaking is considered the most provoking. We all know the feeling of not being able to put our thoughts into words. As for me, it was the fear of failure, being misunderstood, and making grammar mistakes that hindered me from speaking confidently.
When I learned the importance of understanding perspective and goal-setting, I gradually gained confidence and eventually overcame my worries and fears when speaking English.
One of the most significant realisations I took away from understanding perspective was the importance of learning from a variety of sources. Learning English involves more than just grammar and vocabulary. It also involves developing an understanding of the culture and the people who speak the language. By seeking out diverse sources of language input, such as movies, music, and literature, you can broaden your perspective and develop a more comprehensive understanding of the language.
Perspective helped me understand my English language journey from a more pragmatic viewpoint. Engaging in self-reflection and identifying areas where I may be struggling, helped me see the challenges from different angles. It helped me develop a better understanding of my ability, be able to evaluate the importance of improving my skills, and most importantly, stay objective.
-Remember Your Biggest Why-
It is important to constantly remind yourself of why you started learning English in the first place. Your main purpose is your 'biggest why'.
Your ‘biggest why’ is the driving force behind everything you do. It pushes you forward despite the difficulties and struggles. It inspires you to keep going, especially when you are exhausted and feel like giving up.
-Think through your plans and priorities, and write them down.-
I had to identify and understand my ‘biggest why’, challenges, and priorities first to figure out a plan for what I could do to improve my English speaking skills. I wrote them down on paper and placed them on my desk where I could easily see them. That way, I could read it from time to time and use it as a daily reminder or a boost of motivation whenever I needed it. Keeping a positive mindset is essential if you want to accomplish your English language goals.
Goal-setting helped me maintain focus. It helped me focus on my objective and the process, instead of my worries and fears. I was able to learn in a more organised and stress-free manner by setting reasonable and achievable goals in the context of the other things I had going on in my life. I broke my goals down into smaller goals. So a smaller goal might be 'listen to a 5-minute English podcast' or even 'to be able to read and understand a page or a paragraph of an English novel or a news article'. Progress on your small goals may seem slow and insignificant at first, but they add up and accumulate into a significant improvement when you commit to the process and follow it consistently.
-Consistent gains lead to continuous improvement and success in reaching your long-term goals.-
Consistent gains refer to the incremental progress you make towards your goals over time. The key to achieving consistent gains is to focus on the process rather than the outcome.
Consistent gains will also help you to develop resilience and perseverance. When the going gets tough, think about those small accomplishments to remember how far you've come and to motivate yourself to continue.
-It is important to persevere.-
Perseverance means having the persistence and determination to keep working towards your goals. Sometimes it can get very frustrating, but that's okay. If you persevere, you will be able to push through the challenges and stay focused on your goals.
You can try different strategies if it seems like what you're doing isn't working. It is totally okay if you need to adjust or change your methods. Then have another think about your next steps.
-Take regular breaks.-
Try to go easy on yourself. Take a little break if you need to and/or do something else like going for a walk, meditating, having a cup of tea or coffee, cooking or whatever makes you feel better.
-Celebrate your achievements-
Lastly, don't forget to celebrate yourself. When you achieve your small goals, think about what you enjoyed and learned along the way. Recognize your progress and always choose to see the positive sides of learning and improving. Each small step towards your goals provides a sense of achievement, which in turn motivates you to take the next step.
Learning English or any foreign language is not easy, so you should feel proud of yourself. Just imagine a world of possibilities that will become available to you, both personally and professionally, when you are able to speak English confidently.
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Ready to learn more? You may also be interested in ‘’8 Tips to get better at speaking English’’.