Learning a new language can be an emotional experience. I know, because I have been learning Vietnamese for three years, and I still get frustrated when I have problems. I think:
Why can’t I say this better? Why do I make so many mistakes?
When I have problems communicating, I sometimes feel like I’m stupid. Do you ever feel this way too?
It’s easy to get excited when you start learning a new language. Everything is new! You’re constantly learning new words and expressions, and when you say a simple sentence, it makes you so happy!
But after awhile, this begins to change. You think: In my language, I’m so smart! Why don’t I sound like this in English? You’re no longer happy saying simple things. You want to express your personality – and you get frustrated that you’re unable to do it.
Here’s the thing to remember: these feelings are normal. Everybody feels this way sometimes – but you don’t need to feel that way all the time! Here are some things you can do to build your confidence while you continue learning English.
Tips for Building Confidence
- Understand you are normal. Everybody goes through periods when they lose confidence. You need to remind yourself that this is a natural part of language learning.
- Don’t worry about mistakes. When you pronounce a word incorrectly, or forget some grammar, just keep going! Everybody makes mistakes. The only way through them is to continue.
- Review the basics. You cannot build anything without a firm foundation, so every day, try and review what you know. Go over your notes from past lessons. You’ll quickly realize how much you’ve learned!
- Use what you know. I’m sure there are some sentences you can usually say very easily and confidently. Why? Because you’ve said them many times. Use the words and structures you know, and this will give you confidence to try out new things.
- Use natural methods. One of the nice things about listening to music, watching TV, reading, or using other natural methods is that you learn without any pressure. See Learn English Naturally for more natural learning tips.
- Take a course. For some people, taking lessons helps boost their confidence. Of course, taking lessons also improves your skills – and what better way is there to improve your confidence than to speak better English?
- Ask for help. Ask your teacher, native speakers, advanced students, or someone writing a blog (like this one!) for advice. Continue to ask questions, and you will eventually run out of questions to ask!
- Talk about how your feel. Nobody talks about the emotional side of learning English. We talk about grammar and vocabulary and the four skills – but we never talk about what language learning FEELS like. Share your feelings and you’ll probably find other people feel the same way.
- Find role models. I have a few friends who have become fluent Vietnamese speakers. Their success gives me confidence. I look at them and say to myself, If they can do it, I can too!
- DON’T GIVE UP! This is the most important thing. It’s important to keep going, no matter how you feel. Only time and practice will guarantee success.
Building confidence is a critical part of language learning. The more confident you feel, the better you will perform!
What Do You Think?
Do you have any confidence building tips? Share them in the comments section below!