“My English is not very good.” “I’m not confident speaking English.”
These are phrases I often hear from business people trying to improve their English.
The funny thing is, this comes from business people who are actually VERY good at communicating in English. The problem, however, is NOT their English speaking ability: it’s their BELIEF in their English speaking ability!
So how can you know what skills to improve so you get better and gain confidence? And what steps can you take to boost those speaking skills AND your confidence? Let’s look at three simple ways:
1. Choose some words or phrases you feel you need to improve most – then use a pronunciation app to help you. And give yourself time to get better at them. Let’s say you want to improve your pronunciation of L&R word sounds:
- First, choose some L&R words or phrases, for example: flower or ruffle or “they fried liver in the fireplace“.
- Next, download an application like elsa or aksent (Apple devices only) to help you listen and practice your words.
- Practice your pronunciation skills at least ten minutes/day (remember: set a convenient schedule but do it EVERY day)
- After recording the words and sentences, listen to the difference, then repeat and try again until your pronunciation is pretty close.
- save the words (or phrases) and practice every day. After two weeks, go back and listen to your ORIGINAL recording – you’ll see your pronunciation improving AND that your communication too. Note down your improvements (in a journal or online notepad) and give yourself a reward or treat once a month! Because your pronunciation AND communication skills are getting better! Take confidence in your progress.
2. What do you need English for? In other words, what’s your goal? Are you studying for an English test or maybe English is a hobby to help you communicate when you travel? Or maybe you need English for your work or job opportunities? If you need to practice your communication skills, you’ll need someone to help you practice speaking. There are options, no matter what your goal is:
- If you want to do free language exchange, there’s sites like my language exchange or conversation exchange. Keep in mind, your partner is a language learner like you, not a teacher. So it’s good for practice – or maybe making friends – but your confidence might not improve quickly, because you won’t get the feedback you need to improve.
- If you want to improve your general English conversation ability with an English teacher, and pay for your lessons, there are a lot of options available. For example, Preply or iTalki. You can get help with your English, but you may need to go through a few instructors before finding the right one with the qualifications and experience you need. Most importantly, if you haven’t set goals for what to improve, how will you know you’re getting better? If you can’t track your progress toward a goal to see how and what has improved – your confidence won’t grow.
- Finally, if you have a specific work or career goal, you’ll want someone who understands your work situation and needs. AND what you need to practice to achieve your goals. Because, if you practice the language and context that matches your work situation and goals – you’ll quickly see how you’re improving.
If you have specific work needs and goals for your English, take a look at ThinkLish.com: It’s an English communication site made BY business people FOR business people. if you need English speaking skills specific to your business situation & goal, check out courses that match your needs. You’ll see your English communication skills AND confidence grow quickly.
As you speak English clearly and effectively at your workplace, and start communicating easily with English speaking clients or colleagues. Or give a fantastic project presentation, or get that promotion – your confidence will go up & you’ll know your English skills are helping you succeed!
3. The last thing you MUST do to improve is PRACTICE REGULARLY. Set a goal and practice speaking English for 45 minutes to an hour every two or three days (or two to four hours per week) and DON’T STOP. Especially when speaking and trying to perfect a skill, you need to take the time to speak. Progress takes time, but don’t stop and DON’T GIVE UP! You ARE a FANTASTIC English communicator! KEEP IT UP!
REMEMBER: The 3 most important steps to being GREAT at anything:
#1. Practice #2. Practice #3. Practice