Hey, everybody, this is Amy Whitney from realenglishconversations.com, and I’m back with the third episode in this three part series where we’re talking about the connection between confidence, meaning that you feel good when you’re communicating in English and speaking fluency, because if you don’t have that confidence, then you’re probably not going to be practicing your speaking as much as you could or should be.
If you haven’t yet listened to those first two episodes, I recommend stopping right now and going back to listen to them because we covered some really important points that are going to help you to understand these final steps that we’re going to be talking about today.
You need to understand the difference between speaking and listening. We have a cool exercise for you to do to really make that connection, to see that by hearing things, it’s not necessarily going to transfer into your speaking.
And in the last episode, I shared with you some of my problems and struggles with having low confidence in my communication and how that low confidence was really affecting my life. I’ve talked about a serious situation where I had to face that fear and deal with my low confidence, regardless of what happened.
But I also touched on some of the areas where we don’t realize the compromises that we’re making and how we’re settling for things that we don’t really want because of a language barrier.
And I hope that you had an opportunity to watch that interview that I did with one of my students talking about her confidence and how just in a period of a few weeks, she was able to turn around her confidence and finally be able to speak without fear.
And that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today, how to break this cycle, this negative cycle, where every time that you have interactions in English, you actually feel worse about yourself and it’s pulling down your self-confidence. And then that makes you not want to jump into English situations.
Like maybe you do from the comfort of your own home. You think, oh, yeah, I need to practice more. The next time that I see somebody, I’m going to start having a conversation. But in that moment, you get scared like you’re staring at that person and you’re like, well, I can hear them speaking English. I should jump in. But you’re too scared and you end up staying quiet.
You don’t take that opportunity and you’re not practicing your English because you know that when you have that conversation and that interaction., you’re probably going to say something that sounds stupid, make a mistake that you know, that you shouldn’t be making or not have the words that you need to deal with that spontaneous discussion.
And that’s just your brain going into self-protect mode. When we know something is scary or dangerous, we don’t want to do it. Let me give you an example.
I think most of you that are listening have probably had the opportunity to go on an amusement park ride, like a roller coaster. The first time that you go on the roller coaster, you hear the people screaming, right? Like you can hear them. They’re like “aaah”. And you think, “oh, OK, they must be having fun or scared. But it’s OK. I’m going to get on the roller coaster. Everything is going to be fine.”
So you sit in the seat and you’re strapped in and there’s no way of getting out and you start climbing up that first steep hill and you realize, “what have I done?” as you come over the top of the mountain and this thing that you’re strapped into takes off down this steep hill and it’s scary. So the first time that you signed up for it, you didn’t really know what you were getting into. But the next time that you think about getting on that roller coaster, your brain starts to say to you “no, I don’t think that’s a good idea. You don’t want to do that again. Do you remember how scary it was last time?”
So clearly, we have to do something to break the cycle. And one of the pieces of the puzzle that I have figured out is that we need to take action and we need to do things that are in small steps that don’t feel like a big, scary roller coaster, but something that we feel like we can handle. I’ve seen this process happen in my own journey with learning a language up to a very high level. And it’s happened at different times in different situations.
I remember the first time that I actually had to send a voice message on WhatsApp to a native speaker. I was terrified. I don’t know why, but it felt like, “OK, hang on, I have to practice this. So I practiced my answer probably ten or fifteen times before I even tried to record it the first time.” And then as I was recording it, I thought, “oh, my, you made a mistake, really, Amy, you have to do that again”, and I recorded it and deleted it and recorded it and deleted it.
And I remember finally I was like, just send it. And I sent it. And it was scary. It was something that I was really afraid of. But I continued to do that action because it felt like something that was small enough that I could do and overcome that fear over and over. And I wasn’t receiving anything negative after I sent the message. So it was a pretty safe situation for me to be able to do that.
I had the same thing happen with conversations and I jumped into the conversation and it was really scary. I remember the first time my heart was racing out of my chest. I thought, “Oh, I’m talking” and I, I couldn’t think well, because I was so nervous about the whole situation and it was really terrifying. But I continued to do that. And each time that I did, I was getting better and better and better and my confidence was increasing. But more importantly, I wasn’t as scared to start. Now I can hop on a phone call and have a conversation any time in Spanish, and it’s not a big issue. But it took me having to take those actions and facing that fear in order to see that happen.
Now, I want to talk about Amara and the situation that I shared with you yesterday in the last podcast and the interview in particular, I talked to Amara and we discussed what was the difference with her confidence, like what did she start to do? And one of the things that she said was that she started to practice and she was talking with all sorts of different people and she was talking with a teacher and just moving forward and taking action to help her to practice speaking. But there’s a really big difference here, and that is related to the amount of time it took me to improve my confidence versus Amara.
And when we look at what’s happening here, it’s because in my case, I was just getting on the big scary roller coaster over and over and over. And eventually I got used to it. But that process was really, really uncomfortable. And if you don’t have to do it, I wouldn’t recommend it.
And in her case, she had already been through a period where she had definitely dealt with low self-confidence. So I don’t want to minimize that struggle that happened. But that turning point where she went from having very low confidence to having a good level of confidence is what I really want to focus on. And that was something that only took her a few weeks. And the difference between her and I was the environment that we were practicing in. In my situation, it was like every time I had to practice, I was getting on the big scary roller coaster and I knew that it was going to be bad. I knew that I was going to be terrified. And I was already scared before the ride even started.
Whereas with Amara, she had the opportunity to come into a situation where before getting on the big, scary roller coaster, she started in a place that was comfortable and safe. And we could maybe think of one of those little kid roller coasters, the ones that go slow. You can get on it with your mom and dad. You’re able to be three years old and you’re still going to be safe.
So if you come in and your first experience getting on a roller coaster is like that, it’s not really going to be scary. And that’s actually what happened with her. She started to work with a teacher, a teacher who is trained, somebody who knows how to work with students, how to build confidence, how to help you to practice your speaking and feel amazing at the end of your lesson instead of traumatized. So in my case, my confidence took several years to build.
But with Amara, because she started off with something that wasn’t scary, it allowed her to take those steps forward and break that cycle of low confidence. She came to the lesson and left with more confidence and that extra boost of confidence that she had gave her the courage to do something that was a little bit more difficult and a little bit further out of her comfort zone, kind of like an intermediate roller coaster. The first time that you go on it, you might be a little bit nervous, but you realize that, hey, this is OK, I can do this and it’s not scary.
It’s more exciting. And that’s exactly what she did, she started participating in the WhatsApp speaking practice group and posting her answers there with the other members and students that we have in our community. She started to join the different member events and even reaching out to other people to practice speaking with them to have additional practice time. After continuing to work on her English skills, working through the online fluency courses and lessons that we have, continuing to have lessons with a teacher that was really helping her to be able to express her ideas more fully and completely and helping her to improve her pronunciation and correcting errors that she was making habitually explaining how to say things and express things in a more natural way.
All of these things together is the training that leads up to getting on that big, scary roller coaster and not being afraid anymore. Instead of being afraid, you’re excited about it. And for her, that big, scary roller coaster is when she is moving to the United States, which is going to happen in a month from now. But I don’t think that she’s scared. I think she’s ready and she’s excited.
In these last three podcast episodes, I’ve shared a lot of tips, a lot of things that can be very, very helpful and really help you to transform your English, to stop speaking with fear and finally start communicating with confidence.
If you’d like to join our program and you’d like to have our support on that journey, I recommend coming over to our website, realenglishconversations.com. There’s a special link that’s in the description area of this podcast. You can go ahead and click on that link where you’ll be able to learn more about the program and what’s included in it, specifically to try to figure out if it’s the right program for you. But I just want to let you know that we do have a special offer that is available.
So be sure to click on that link to see what the special offer is. And if you’re a podcast fan, I’m sure that you’re going to love this deal that we put together for you. That’s all that I have for you today. I hope that this podcast series has left you inspired and hopeful that there is a way to feel confident while you’re communicating in English. And I will see you in our next podcast, which is going to be a conversation between Curtis and I, probably talking about something interesting and cool.
So we’ll see you next time.