You’ve memorised the vocabulary, you’ve learned all the conditionals, and you’ve even studied a few phrasal verbs, but when you sit down in that work meeting, you can’t speak. Nothing will come out. You just nod and smile and feel miserable.
So what went wrong?
You didn’t have enough confidence. This is the number one problem our students tell us about. Fortunately, you can overcome it, with a bit of practice and patience.
First of all, what is confidence?
It’s the feeling or belief that you can rely on someone or something, and it’s similar to having trust or faith in something. It can be difficult to have confidence in yourself, especially when you are out of your comfort zone.
So how can you find more confidence for those situations like meetings and phone calls?
Here are some tips and tricks to help you:
- Stop worrying about mistakes. Most people are only interested in what information you are giving, not your use of the Past Perfect. The majority of mistakes don’t matter.
- Practise the situation first. Talk to yourself! In the car, in the shower, while you’re doing the dishes. Think about likely questions and practise your answers.
- Practise the situation with a colleague. Ask if you can spend a few minutes going over the proposed agenda in English, so you can refresh your memory with the key words.
- Talk to yourself more. Yes, really. Describe the room you’re in, or what you’re doing. Don’t think about translating. If you can’t use ‘sophisticated’ words, that’s fine. Simple words can be just as effective.
- And of course, we recommend regularly brushing up your speaking with some lessons!
Most importantly, be patient with yourself. It might take a few tries, but learning a new skill takes time. Congratulate yourself for trying. Your determination will pay off!
Next month: more confidence-building tips!
-- Lindsay. Senior Teacher at ECS Scotland