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Je sui nul en anglais!

« Je suis nul/ je suis bloquée en anglais » Sound familiar ? Mais franchement, ce n’est pas vrai !

Why is self-confidence important in language learning and what causes a lack of it ?

Self-confidence is an important factor that allows you to improve and progress in a foreign language because it is helps you manage the inevitable mistakes that you will make. Also, as progress is often slow and sometimes you may say things that are a little embarrassing. Like the time I told my daughter’s nursery teacher “Ah, you look very burnt” after the summer holidays, I meant of course “You look very tanned!”. Self-confidence helps us to make mistakes without feeling phased by failure. 

However, some language learners experience a lack of self-confidence which creates a barrier to their language acquisition. This may be because of a uninspiring previous teacher, an unkind colleague or relative who belittled them in the past, the perception that everyone in the office speaks better than them or because they are afraid to look stupid. Some people may lack confidence simply because they are unsure if they are saying something correctly. Whatever the root cause, the symptoms of low self-confidence in terms of communicating in a foreign language are often the same.

When a conversation starts, your mind goes blank; you can’t find your words; all the grammar rules that you knew yesterday suddenly disappear; stammering and blushing starts and you start to feel self-conscious; you feel stupid. Panic then sets in and by the end of the conversation this interaction becomes another negative memory which only reinforces your initial lack of self-confidence. If you recognize that you have experienced any of these feelings don’t worry! You can overcome them with patience, practice and positivity. Read on to discover some simple tips of how to increase your confidence when speaking  English (or any foreign language).  

4 Practical tips to help you improve your self-confidence and stay alive when you speak English! 

Why is self-confidence important in language learning and what causes a lack of it

Self-confidence is an important factor that allows you to improve and progress in a foreign language because it is helps you manage the inevitable mistakes that you will make. Also, as progress is often slow and sometimes you may say things that are a little embarrassing. Like the time I told my daughter’s nursery teacher “Ah, you look very burnt” after the summer holidays, I meant of course “You look very tanned!”. Self-confidence helps us to make mistakes without feeling phased by failure. 

However, some language learners experience a lack of self-confidence which creates a barrier to their language acquisition. This may be because of a uninspiring previous teacher, an unkind colleague or relative who belittled them in the past, the perception that everyone in the office speaks better than them or because they are afraid to look stupid. Some people may lack confidence simply because they are unsure if they are saying something correctly. Whatever the root cause, the symptoms of low self-confidence in terms of communicating in a foreign language are often the same.

When a conversation starts, your mind goes blank; you can’t find your words; all the grammar rules that you knew yesterday suddenly disappear; stammering and blushing starts and you start to feel self-conscious; you feel stupid. Panic then sets in and by the end of the conversation this interaction becomes another negative memory which only reinforces your initial lack of self-confidence. If you recognize that you have experienced any of these feelings don’t worry! You can overcome them with patience, practice and positivity. Read on to discover some simple tips of how to increase your confidence when speaking  English (or any foreign language).  

4 Practical tips to help you improve your self-confidence and stay alive when you speak English! 

Be realistic and be positive : Concentrate on communication rather than perfection!

Avoid comparing yourself to other people, or worrying about what level of English you “should” have. Instead focus on where you are now in you language journey and where you want to be in the future.  It can help to set realistic goals, this will help you stay focused and maintain your levels of motivation. Try to review and track your progress on a regular basis so that you understand the improvement you have made and areas for development. 

Be Honest and be kind to yourself:

Think about the root cause of your lack of self-confidence to speak English, and seek help accordingly, this may be through seeking professional help, or talking with a friend or your English trainer to help you work through your difficulties.

Try to be a good friend to yourself and be kind when you give yourself feedback. Instead of focusing on all the mistakes that you made in a conversation, think about what went well, ask yourself if you managed to communicate despite your mistakes. Realize that despite our best efforts some situations may not go as intended, but rather than catastrophizing the event try to consider what things you need to develop in order to improve next time. For example, perhaps you need to learn some specific vocabulary to manage the situation, or do more preparation for a presentation at work. 

Remember, we are often our own worst critics; we worry far more about our mistakes than anyone else does. It is highly unlikely that your international colleagues will have a sleepless night worrying about the fact that you used the wrong expression during the meeting and conjugated a verb in the present perfect instead of the past simple. In fact everyone makes mistakes, they are an unavoidable and necessary part of language learning.

Accept mistakes for the benevolent teachers that they are

In order to learn a language you simply must accept that you will make mistakes, no-one, not even native speakers are born with a perfect mastery of their mother tongue. We learn a language through study, repetition and correction. When you consider all the rules, expressions, vocabulary and exceptions that modern languages have it is inconceivable to imagine that you will suddenly wake-up one day speaking perfectly!  However frustrating it is to make mistakes and often the same mistakes repeatedly, they are not your enemy, it is normal to make mistakes in language acquisition and they can help to highlight areas for development.

If you are afraid of making mistakes and this creates a real communication barrier, try asking yourself these questions: What is the worst thing that can happen if I make a mistake in English ? Is the consequence of making a mistake in English real or imaginary?  Will I survive the consequences of my mistakes  in English.

Rationalizing and demoting your fear can help you to put things into perspective. An English trainer can help give feedback and correction when you speak, and help you develop the skills to auto-correct your own mistakes.

It is also important to remember that none of the colleagues, family members or friends that speak good English now started that way, they have undoubtedly made plenty of mistakes before they arrived at their current level.

Fake it until you make it!

Increasing self-confidence doesn’t always come easily, it is unlikely that you will wake up one morning, exuding confidence and never look back. Increasing your confidence , like learning a language usually takes patience, persistence and hard work. Self-confidence is more likely to come as a result of many small little actions that accumulate over time, and make you feel a little bit better every day.

Until you actually feel more self-confident why don’t you try thinking like a confident person instead?  When you need to speak English instead of worrying ‘I might say something wrong” try saying to yourself “I might say something right”. Try inventing your own mantra (in English of course) to use in urgent cases of communication stress, such as  “you got this” (tu vas y arriver!) or “Can I do it, YES I can!” (It worked well for Obama)

Sometimes building confidence just involves taking a deep breath, feeling the fear and doing it anyway. So be brave, “go for it” and contact me today for your first step towards gaining more confidence in English! Remember “You got this!”

Je crois que la confiance en soi est une partie importante de l’apprentissage d’une langue, car elle vous aide à faire face aux erreurs que vous allez certainement faire!  C’est pourquoi si vous avez trouvé mon article trop difficile je vous ai fait un petit résumé en Français.