How often do I see the following happen, in perfect English: “I don’t speak English very well, my English is not so good.” Right… Have you considered your English is not the issue? What do I mean by this? Maybe your English is great, but your confidence in your speaking is low.
Recently, I have started classes with quite an amount of new students and the above-mentioned sentences; they are common, especially among these new students. I strongly dislike them (the sentences, I love my students). Although, I believe I know what you mean.
What I think you mean to say is, the use is a problem. Or, the idea of standing in front of a room of people and having to speak English (I will not tell you to imagine they are naked).
What if it is not the English, but the speaking that is the problem?
Studied English and No Speaking
I have met enough people/ students, who tell me they have studied the language their whole lives. Awesome, love it. I also ask how much people they met with whom they can use it. That is usually when things become silent.
Some concrete examples of a person I met.
I met this girl who studied English Philology in Spain for four years and graduated with good marks. We met in a bar and she was just not able to speak English with me in (coherent) sentences. “Yes, but that is because you are so handsome,” she says. “Well”, I said, “you look pretty hot yourself, I didn’t study Spanish and here we are, speaking Spanish”.
To me, it was clear that her English was not the issue, she proved it as, when she did finally warm up, she spoke amazing English. She had obvious issues with speaking the language, which I think is worse. And, the interesting this was, she was later able to correct me on my English and started asking me questions about pronunciation!
My Spanish Learning
What is the difference? Since I moved to Spain, I used the language on a daily basis. In had Spanish speaking flatmates, daily classes, work, going out… You name it, I was doing it to use it. By the way, I made enormous amounts of mistakes and silly ones. I found out the hard way that “to introduce” is a false friend.
So, I was speaking Spanish. In my case, the speaking was amazing the Spanish was a problem. Now my question to you is, which one is your real problem, is it the language or is it the actual use?
Again, I encounter many cases where the issue is speaking and the use. You feel insecure about it and not wanting to look like an idiot. I would say, there is nothing wrong with looking like an idiot because you are trying something new and the person you are speaking with, is not. Who is the idiot now? And yes, I did want to place stress on the is where I first used look like. There is a grammatical difference and y lo sabes.
How to Fix It?
Would you like me to give you the standard answer? I mean, it is an easy one. At least the standard answer is. Practice, practice and more practice. Sure, you are getting sick of hearing that.
How about this: KISS. Keep it Simple Stupid! Don’t complicate your life, start with what you know and with what you are secure about. This sounds easier said than done, yet that is how you build your confidence. Make a mistake here and there and start feeling comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s really not that hard.
Take Advantage of the Class
Another way to look at it, in the classroom, you need to be using the language. If you are doing reading exercises in class in silence, you are wasting your time. Sorry to say it, but you can and need to do those at home. Just like listening exercises. With your teacher, you need to be speaking as much as possible. That can also be, reviewing the exercises you did at home, but you need to be talking.
Think of it like this, if you have two classes of one hour per week… that is very little. Sharing them with other people? Even less time you have to speak. In my explanation about me, I used my Spanish ALL THE TIME. Not only in class but also outside. Now, for you that might be a bit more complicated because you live in Spain, I understand that. Hence (pues), you need to take advantage of your classes.
En TJ English Golf creemos que cada uno tiene el derecho de comunicarse bien, en un idioma extranjero.
Si desee aprender más o incluso le interesa aprender inglés jugando al golf, no dude en ponerse en contacto con nosotros. Hasta entonces:
Don’t forget to practice!