While there are many methods to improve your English, having confidence in your abilities is just as important as vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and everything else.
1. Master Fluency
Part of being confident is speaking well. If you speak clearly and loudly, you will appear and feel more confident. A simple technique that will help is learning to read with fluency.
What does that mean? It means that you practice reading a piece of text so that you sound confident not only in what you say, but how you say it.
Some tips to get you started:
Start with reading material you are already familiar with, such as something from your lesson or a piece of text you’ve read before.
Read it aloud in front of a mirror. Notice what your body language is like. Are you standing up tall or hunching over? Speaking loudly, or quietly?
Work on changing how you stand and how you talk (your body language has a surprisingly large influence on your confidence, which we’ll look more at later).
Use the same text until you memorize it, and you can now start working on how you stand and speak to your audience. Go ahead and practice with a trusted friend when you feel more comfortable.
If you want to track your progress, film yourself reading the text the first time, and then again after you memorize it. Seeing these changes will help to further improve your confidence.
2. Mimic English TV News Presenters
If you’re not sure how to act confidently, a great way is to study people.
You want to be able to understand what they do that makes them so confident. There’s no better way to understand this than by watching people who have to speak in front of millions of people every day – news reporters and presenters.
While it may be tempting to watch the news in your native language, it is better to watch it in English.
First, you get to practice your listening skills. Second, you want to be able to mimic their tone so you can do the same in English.
If you don’t think you can do this, just remember that even native English speakers have a hard time speaking in front of an audience. Those newscasters can do it because they have practiced for many hours over many years.
You, too, can be as confident as them – but you need to put in the time and effort.
To get started, pick one news show to watch daily. It helps if you pick out one person you like.
Go online to watch the news clips, so that you can watch it more than once.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you watch the videos:
- How do they sit?
- What is the tone of their voice like?
- How quickly do they speak?
Finally, pick a 5 minute segment. Watch this over and over again. After watching it a few times, it’s time to mimic what the news reporter says.
Like mastering fluency, repeat the same 5 minute segment simultaneously with the reporter until you feel comfortable saying it without watching the news clip.
Now try again with another one.
3. Share Your Struggles With Someone you Trust
Sometimes all we need to feel better about learning English is knowing that we’re not the only one who struggles, and that others also struggle with some things, such as how they appear when talking to their boss.
Go ahead and share your struggles with a close friend, your spouse, a teacher, or even a trusted co-worker.
This is not about complaining. Rather, it’s a time to share what you don’t feel confident in, or what you are struggling with.
Don’t judge yourself or contemplate why you don’t feel confident, that will not help. Instead, say what you have to say, and move on.
Sometimes letting our frustrations out is all we need to feel better. That way we can get back to improving our English.
4. Prepare Conversation Starters
It can be nerve wracking when going to networking events or even speaking with co-workers who have better English than you. In this case, it will help if you prepare at least 10 phrases to use as conversation starters.
That way you’re not standing around with awkward silences which would only make you more nervous and less confident.
You can prepare conversation starters for various scenarios. So, no matter where you are, you will be prepared for any situation.
5.Reflect on your Achievements so far
Taking time to reflect on what you have achieved so far will help you realize how much you’ve actually learned. It is also a confidence boost because it shows just how hard you’ve worked.
Here are some suggestions:
Keep a journal or a learning log where you write down every day what you worked on or accomplished
Create a survey/feedback form to give yourself positive feedback on your skills (make sure you ask people who have better English than you)
If you are doing a course, talk to your teacher regularly and ask what they noticed about your progress in English. You can speak with colleagues who you use English with as well.
Start thinking about your errors as opportunities to learn. For example, instead of saying you’re not good at using certain verb tenses, rephrase it as an opportunity to keep practicing.
Remember that it’s not the end of the world if you’re struggling with English. There are many worse problems that you could have, and that others are going through. Putting things into perspective will help.
Learning English is not easy, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t be confident in the abilities that you have right now.
If you work on any 2 of the tips above, within weeks you’ll feel better and more confident. The people around you will start to notice, as well as the people you work with.
Good luck! If you need further help or practice speaking to feel more comfortable, be sure to schedule a trial lesson with me. =)