Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Learning how to speak English is wonderful, but how you communicate in English determines your ability to converse successfully.
Talking too fast, too slow, and too quietly are just some of the ways static can occur in communication and are often a result of low confidence. Having confidence speaking English is just as important in reducing your accent as learning the words themselves, as confidence helps build English communication skills and can help non-native English speakers feel self-assured in social and work settings.
The first way to help boost confidence when speaking in a non-native language is practice! If you want to be conversational in English, you have to use what you’re learning so the language sticks in your mind and you can tangibly feel the progress you’re making. Without practice, it’s easy to sway from your commitment and move on to easier, less intimidating goals than learning a new language. Remind yourself why you wanted to speak English like an American in the first place, and chat away!
The second step is listening. As you’re talking to a fellow peer in English, pay attention to how they speak English with confidence, and notice if you’re pronouncing words differently than they are. Depending on your native language, non-native speakers can tend to over or under stress words, requiring slightly more effort by the receiver to decode what you’re saying. If you ask, “How was your day?” see if your peer responds, “My day today was…” and pick up on their pronunciation and compare it to yours.
This step is also where working with an ASHA certified Speech Pathologist helps. If you want a second opinion on your English pronunciation, and find areas of improvement, working with an online Speech Pathologist can help critique your progress and work with you to improve on speaking English like an American. Often, working with a Speech Pathologist is one of the most convenient ways to learn correct English pronunciation—they can take the time to work with you at the pace you need.
By speaking more often in English and listening to others to compare your pronunciation to theirs, you’re able to improve your English pronunciation and gain confidence in the process. The more assured you when speaking a foreign language, the more poised you can be during work and social interactions! Start taking the first step towards confidence in your English today for a better, more self-assured tomorrow.