I was in the bus with my friends and one of them asked me if I speak English at home. I told her, “No, not really.” The truth is, I speak more Malay than I do English. She was shocked, because from her observation of my English speaking skills, she assumed that I must speak English all the time.
Nope, you don’t have to. So, how did I do it?
A lot of people know me through the videos I uploaded on Youtube. Since 2011, I uploaded videos of me speaking on various topics and yes, I speak in English. I received emails and comments from people wondering how I polished my English speaking to become how it is today.
Without taking away my appreciation for people’s good thoughts, I would like to emphasize one important point: Don’t be too mesmerised with what you see, thinking that it magically happened. What you see is a product of years of practise and patience.
Don’t expect to be an expert tomorrow when you only started today. Self-improvement is a process that takes time, so don’t expect things to fall into place all at once. Take it one step at a time. There are no shortcuts to success. You have to be willing to do the work in order to get the result.
English speaking is a skill and a skill can be acquired. Different individuals can acquired a skill differently and can master the skill at different levels of mastery, but the skill can be acquired nonetheless.
Any skill acquisition, to my estimation, follows the same learning pathway. To acquire any skill, you needs two basic things:
- Be exposed to the language. Listen, listen, and listen to the language in all its variations and nuances. Pay close attention to pronunciations, abbreviations, slangs, cultural norms, idioms, wordplays, and a myriad of other beautiful things associated with the English language, or any language for that matter. You can only produce what you consumed.
- Put it to practice. Theory alone is not enough. It is never enough. You shouldn’t keep the knowledge all bottled up in your head because the benefits of knowledge only manifest through the limbs i.e. you have to apply it. Especially with English speaking, which involves mostly mechanical movements of your mouth, you need to practice, practice, and practice.
Scared about making mistakes? Don’t worry, you will make mistakes. That is a guarantee, but that is not the scariest part of it all. The scariest part is not doing anything at all. The scariest part is to remain in the comfort zone, not growing.
The scariest part is being a coward, and be consumed by overwhelming sense of guilt when you witness other people exploring and trying new things while you stay in your zone with the words “What if…” lingering in your head.
Do you want to master your confidence?
Speak Up! Project focuses on creating a strong foundation of inner confidence. We apply the confidence in practicing essential soft skills: English speaking, public speaking, and debating.
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