You Are The Important Part Of Learning How To Speak English
Learning how to speak English
One of the least talked about parts of improving your English-speaking skills, is the self belief and self esteem needed to do that. If you don’t feel confident in yourself and your abilities, then you will find speaking in English for the first time, very hard. Much harder than it needs to be.
“Don’t take anything for granted. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will. Have a little more confidence.” — Cathy Moriarty, Actress
An important factor in successfully learning a new language is believing you can do it. Taking that first step, turning up and trying is all you. It has to be your goal “To learn to speak a new language” your desire “To be as good as a native speaker” and your need to be successful that delivers your language learning goals.
Belief in yourself leads to confidence and confidence will let try things. Maybe speaking in English for the first time? Confidence will help you tackle obstacles, like the embarrassment of sounding funny when you try to speak English. Confidence means you believe you can win and winning means you will speak English fluently just like native English speakers.
Confidence leads to stronger self esteem, self esteem will inspire you to take action. Self esteem will give you a positive attitude and a positive attitude will keep you motivated, and that’s how you achieve your goals.
“If you want to change the way you feel about yourself, first you have to change the way you think about yourself.” — Gavin Bird, Self Esteem 1
Audio Transcript: You Are The Important Part Of Learning How To Speak English
Hi there and welcome to this latest short podcast from Adept English. Learning how to speak English? We are here to help you take pleasure in your language learning!
How Good is Your Self-Esteem?
Shall we do something different today? Shall we do a bit of work on your self-esteem while you are improving your English language by listening? Vocabulary first, as ever. What do we mean by ‘self-esteem’. Well, esteem, E-S-T-E-E-M is one of those English words – and there are so many of these – which are both a noun and a verb. So ‘to esteem’ something means that you have positive thoughts about it, you have confidence in it, you think it has value, it’s worthwhile. And if you use the noun ‘esteem’, it’s one of those uncountable nouns – it’s like a substance like milk or traffic. So you can say ‘my esteem’ or ‘some esteem’ but you wouldn’t say ‘an esteem’.
So if you put that noun with ‘self’ in front of it, ‘self-esteem’, then the meaning is obvious. Your self-esteem is what you think of yourself. If your self-esteem is high, you feel that mostly you’re OK, you’re worthwhile, you have value, you like yourself. And if your self-esteem is low, that means the opposite. It means that you have a low opinion of yourself and what you do. So it’s much easier to improve and learn confidently if you’ve got good self-esteem. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a language you’re trying to learn, or anything else.
Problems with Self-Esteem
The trouble with self-esteem is that whether or not someone has high self-esteem or low self-esteem usually has little connection with how you actually perform as a person. There are people with very high self-esteem, who don’t really deserve to have that and people with very low self-esteem, who are thought of highly by other people. So there’s little relationship between your self-esteem and how good, how worthy a person you are. And the trouble is, if your self-esteem is low, you can end up affecting whether or not you’re successful. Your low self-esteem may mean that you don’t expect much of yourself. The little voice inside your head, what you say to yourself, could be very discouraging or very negative. So in the end you don’t expect much of yourself and it affects your performance. Or you set limits for yourself – so that you’re too scared, too frightened to try things, because you just expect not to be able to do them.
Another problem for people with low self-esteem – even when they’ve done something really good, really worthy of praise, something they could be proud of, the little voice inside their head says ‘Oh, that’s nothing. That was easy. It can’t be that great, you just did it! Anyone could do that!’.
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Try This Exercise For Your Self-Esteem
So you know my day job is working as a psychotherapist? And often I’m working with people who’re depressed. Their mood is low. They’re not happy. And often there is low self-esteem goes with that. Sometimes even people who appear very confident on the outside, very sure of themselves, actually have an internal voice, like I’ve just described which is very critical, which always says horrible things about you. And it means that whatever the person does, it’s never good enough.
Well, if that describes you, here’s a little piece of advice, something to try. It’s a little thing that sometimes I say to people who are struggling with their self-esteem. Try to identify what the little voice inside your head that’s negative – what does it say about you? Maybe it says ‘You’re stupid’, ‘You’re no good’. Maybe it’s ‘You’re lazy’ or ‘You never succeed at anything’. Or maybe it says ‘You’re just terrible at learning how to speak English. You’re never going to be able to do it. You’re never going to be able to do English conversation!’. All of these phrases are what we call ‘criticism’. They’re critical phrases. They’re negative, likely to be unfair, untrue – or certainly not all of the time. And criticism or critical words, they put down the person to whom they’re said. They’re not constructive things to say – they aim instead to make the person who receives the criticism feel worse, feel bad about themselves.
So if that’s what you do - pick a child that you know. Think about a child that you know. Ideally someone quite young – perhaps a child of 5, 6, 7 years old. It could be your son, your daughter, your brother or your sister – your niece or your nephew, or just a child that lives near you that you know. And then……..just imagine all of those horrible things we’ve talked about that you say to yourself inside your head. Imagine saying those things instead to the small child. So there’s the small child, standing in front of you, and you say to him or her ‘You’re stupid’ or ‘You’re no good’ or ‘You’re lazy’ or ‘You’re never going to succeed at anything’. And ‘Learn how to speak English fluently? Well, you’re never going to be able to do that!’. And you can imagine this small child, hearing these words, being upset, in tears maybe, running off to cry on their own. Would saying those things to a small child have a good effect? Are you likely to be helping them build their self-esteem? Do you think that that would help them have good self-esteem?
A Bit of Self-Encouragement Instead, Especially for your English Language Learning!
Well, I think you know the answer. The answer is probably no! So why do you think it’s OK to say these sorts of things inside your head to yourself? Do you think the effect is going to be any different, if it’s your own self that’s on the receiving end?! So it’s a really good exercise is to identify the horrible things that you say to yourself that you don’t deserve, that aren’t warranted. Yeah? They’re not actually what you should be saying. They’re not helpful and you don’t need these criticisms! How about a bit of encouragement instead!? I think that visualisation of actually saying them to a small child is really helpful because it helps you see how damaging, how negative, they are.
I’ve got lots more to say about this kind of thing, so if you find this interesting or helpful, and you’d like more of this self-development type podcast, then please let us know! Give us feedback! And if you’d like to learn more about how to handle self-criticism more easily when you’re learning how to speak English – or just being less self-critical whatever you’re doing – then sign up for our free course, The Seven Rules of Adept English. Because Rule Four talks more about self-esteem and self-criticism, especially in the context of learning something new. But actually all Seven Rules will be really, really helpful to you, whether you’re learning how to speak English or any other language!
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
PS: Do you want to improve your English conversation skills even more?
World-class athletes often imagine themselves winning before they even start a competition 2. They literally see themselves arriving at the desired finishing line. This positive mental projection really works. Try thinking about yourself speaking in English. Imagine the scenario, at work or on holidays, imagine yourself speaking fluently and confidently like a native English speaker. Do this before, during and after listening to our audio lessons. It will help 3.
How do you practice using imagery of success? There are lot’s of variations on exactly how you do this but they all have steps like these:
1 Set yourself a very specific goal (e.g. “giving a presentation in English at work”, not “speaking English”)
2 Imagine the future where you have achieved your goal. (Be sure to imagine feeling great about the success!)
3 Hold a mental image of it as if it were happening to you right now.
4 Imagine the picture in as much detail as feasible.
5 Involve all five of your senses as you can in your imagination. (Who are you with? Which emotions are you feeling right now? What are you wearing? Is there a smell in the air? What do you hear? What is your environment?)
6 Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight when you do this.
7 Practice in the morning after you wake up or just before you go to sleep.
8 Erase any doubts, if they occur to you.
9 Repeat this practice often.
REMEMBER: The easiest way to never speaking English fluently and confidently is to be negative and envision the worst scenario 4.