Good question, in my opinion. I asked myself this for about 7 years, during which I mastered English after university. The only answer that the teachers gave me was to practice.
“More practice, we all have it, but it will go away with time”. And that’s the problem – it didn’t go away. And it was like the more I studied, the more stress I got, which is frankly weird.
I learned a lot in my adult life: running, several dance styles, playing the guitar, vocals, crossfit, martial arts. And there was stress everywhere at the beginning, especially in public. But here’s the difference: there the stress went away very quickly – in weeks, in extreme cases, months. And I could dance in front of hundreds of people, play guitar in the park, take part in a boxing tournament – almost without stress.
But as soon as it came to even simple communication from the series – English lesson – fear. It was necessary to fire the American recruitment agency – panic. Conduct an interview with a CMO from Bank of America – I rescheduled it twice, at least call an ambulance.
Here are the problems I got from such fear:
I missed opportunities: I didn’t respond, I didn’t go to social security.
I wasn’t making any progress in the language.
In general, such stress is not the most pleasant thing in life.
I forgot words. Even the simplest ones like busy, create or mid.
I spent a lot of money and time on a frankly useless result – “mooing” English, which has almost no application in life. Although in all schools and tests I received a B2.
When I came to coaching and became acquainted with what Gestalt therapy is, fear and stress became much more applied matters than before. I quickly got rid of the thought: “He probably thinks I’m unprofessional or my English is bad because I said have, not has.”.
Previously, I ignored the fact that I never received negative feedback about my language from the British, Americans, guys from India, Europe… Only from my compatriots, that’s it… The pronunciation is wrong, the times are wrong, there are too few idioms in speech.
And from that moment I began to take a closer look, and then ask foreigners directly: “How would you rate my English? Can you work with this internationally?”
I remembered the first answer for a long time: “Folk, your English is better that half of London”.
Currently my job is to help people get Fluent English in 3 months. One of the key things that gives such a quick boost is getting rid of stress.
You stopped forgetting words.
Confusion of tenses, articles and other things is no longer a problem.
5-10 second pauses have disappeared from your speech.
You don’t have a liter of sweat on your head and hands.
How many times do you think your English will improve? How much more often will you practice it if the stress goes away? How easy will it be to sit down to a book, article or film if you are confident that you can handle it?
I have already learned these answers, first from my own example, and then from client experience. It’s an absolutely amazing feeling to sit with someone on Zoom and see. Seeing him reading a book in English for the second time in his life understands 95% and enjoys it.
Sit and talk to him about his sister’s online course, competitors, SWOT analysis, when 2 months ago he forgot 3 out of 5 words while introducing himself, who he is.
What it’s like to watch “Emily in Paris” and understand every dirty joke in the original that the characters “make.”
If stress has not disappeared after a couple of months/year of learning a language, this is a clear signal that the problem was not just a skill, but that it lies much deeper. What’s scary is that they will perceive you as a fool, an unprofessional, a barely speaking clown, or any other negative image. Remember how it was at school? Unfortunately, I remember.
Next comes everyone’s favorite question: and what to do?
It would be nice to understand the root of stress. What are we afraid of?
I was afraid to do it imperfectly and look stupid.
A common problem with people who come to me is that they immediately try to speak quickly. How they do it in Russian. Hence the pauses, mooing, the same growing stress. Try to start slowly, get used to it. Just this month, this simple advice has already helped Java dev from Krasny RF Bank and Head of Sales from MTS.
Tell yourself: “Okay, my English is A1. If I said A2, I’ve already jumped over my head.”. I’m still surprised how much this advice helps in coaching, but it helps.
Try to differentiate
Okay, it’s scary to look stupid at a job interview. But you’re not there. You’re in English class. In the shop. What’s wrong here?
Problem with an asterisk – try to stop devaluing what you can do
In general, you know how to speak, quite tolerably. Why do you look at what you can’t do, instead of what you can do? A green pen is always more effective than a red one.
Overcoming fear and doing something in comfort and peace of mind is a huge step towards success. Maybe even the last one for you…
I have a free webinar here soon on fears, if you want to dive deeper into this topic, welcome to the telegram channel.
©Igor Poyurov. Life and Language Coach. lnnk.in/@habrtotg