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7 Things NOT to Do When Speaking English

Ive spent the last few years traveling and living abroad, and during that time Ive talked to a lot of people who spoke English as a foreign language. After talking to thousands of foreigners in English Ive noticed several things that they do that hurt their progress as a language learner. Here are the top 7

!. "ont #e too Ashamed to $peak

%here is only one way to learn how to speak English, and that is to open your mouth and speak English& %he only way you will ever get better at speaking is by speaking, and speaking a lot& 'ourage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear ( not absence of fear. ( )ark %wain *ou can make e+cuses for why you dont want to speak, like saying that youre too embarrassed to speak, but these wont get you any closer to your goal of achieving English fluency. It doesnt matter if you have no vocabulary, or if your pronunciation isnt perfect, you need to open your mouth and speak if you want to improve. ,hat ever you do, dont say that you cant speak English because this will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. #y believing that you cant speak English you close your mind to trying, and never give yourself the opportunity to improve. %he only way to improve your English is to practice it, no matter how bad you may or may not be at it.

.. "ont #e Afraid of )aking )istakes

Another thing you shouldnt do when speaking English is to be afraid of making mistakes. /art of being human is making mistakes and sooner or later youre going to have to accept the fact that youre not perfect and that you will always make mistakes. %he only way you can avoid making mistakes is by not trying at all. If you follow this approach youll avoid making mistakes, but youll never improve either. Ive missed more than 0111 shots in my career. Ive lost almost 211 games. .3 times, Ive been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. Ive failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. ( )ichael 4ordan

%his may seem counter-intuitive, but you should try making as many mistakes as possible. If you are making mistakes that means you are actually speaking English and improving. If you arent making mistakes every day then you arent speaking enough. 5f course, you shouldnt intentionally make mistakes, and you should try to be aware of your mistakes so you can learn from them and improve your skills. 6rammar is the last thing you should be worried about when speaking English. *ou dont need to have perfect grammar in order to communicate with someone in English. 7ative speakers arent going to 8udge you for having bad grammar, they are going to be more focused on understanding your meaning and continuing the conversation. As long as you speak clearly and confidently, it doesnt matter if you use the wrong article, ad8ective ending or sentence order. )any language programs put too much emphasis on grammar and not enough emphasis on speaking. %hey spread the idea that you have to know all the grammar rules before you can start speaking, which can have the effect of reducing your confidence when you finally start speaking. %his is backwards. *ou should learn to speak first to build your confidence, and then work on correcting your grammar after youve reached a basic level of fluency. Everybody makes mistakes, even native speakers of English. 7obody is born speaking perfect English9 fluency is something that takes time and hard work to achieve. %here are many Americans who go through !2 years of schooling and still dont learn how to speak English properly. $o dont be discouraged by your mistakes. :earn to embrace them and value them for the role they play in your learning.

2. "ont Apologi;e <or *our :evel

$omething that really annoys me when Im talking to someone in English is when they apologi;e for how much English they speak. Ive never been offended by someones level of English, and I dont get upset when someone makes mistakes. If you talk to someone and they do get offended or upset because of your level of English they are an evil person who probably tortures kittens in their spare time. )ost of the people who apologi;e for their level of English feel like they should speak better than they do. Its fine to think this, but dont get upset at yourself for not knowing more than you do. Achieving fluency in any language is a process that takes time, and you cant e+pect to become fluent overnight. ,hether youve been studying English for years or only for a few months, youve put in a lot of work to get where you are, so dont underestimate yourself.

=. "ont get frustrated with yourself

:earning English will come with a certain amount of frustration. At some point you will come to a stage where you wont be able to fully e+press yourself like you would be able to in $panish , and there will be times when you wont be able to find the right word to say.

7early everyone who learns English goes through this phase9 its 8ust a natural part of the language learning process. %his stage may last only a few weeks if you are completely immersed in English, but it could last years if you only use English twice a week at your language school. %he only way to overcome this frustration is by practice, practice, practice. >eep in mind that this frustration isnt because youre not smart enough, or because the language is too difficult, it is something that many people have to go through. #y embracing this frustration and feeling it more intensely through increased e+posure you can pass through this stage more rapidly.

?. "ont take it personally when people dont understand you

At some point in your English speaking career you are going to speak to someone who, no matter how hard you try 8ust cant seem to understand you. "ue to the large number of English speakers in the world, there are a wide range of accents, some of which are hard to understand. I for one have a hard time understanding some Australian accents and most Irish accents. *oull have this problem a lot when talking with people who arent used to dealing with foreigners. If they dont have this e+perience they will be used to hearing English spoken in a very specific way, and they wont have any frame of reference when talking to you. @eali;e that this isnt a reflection of your language skills, but rather a reflection of this persons lack of e+posure to different people. %his can also happen when talking to English learners who have a lower level of English than you. %hey wont be able to understand everything you say because of your more advanced vocabulary. %ry to remember that you were once at their level and not everyone is at the same place on their language 8ourney. %he same person who gets offended when you speak English also tortures kittens like these.

3. "ont compare yourself to other English $peakers

7o matter what level your English is at, you had to work hard to bring yourself to that level. #e proud of what youve accomplished and dont be too concerned with what other people think about it. %hey dont know how many hours youve had to work to get to where you are, they dont know all the struggles youve been through to get there. %his also means you shouldnt go around comparing yourself to other people. Everybody is different9 some people learn languages more easily than others and some people have spent more time working to improve their English. 4ust because your friend who lived in :ondon for 2 years can speak really well doesnt mean that youre not on the right path.

$ome people like to see others fail, and by paying any attention to these people you are 8ust feeding their negativity. Any time you spend worrying about what they think of you is time wasted that could be better spent by working to improve your English.

7. If you are fluent, or 8ust think you are, "57% 6E% '5'>* AA@@56A7%B
C:ife AEnglishB is a 4ourney 7ot a "estination.D English is not a chip in your brain. Its a learning process. )aybe this is gonna seem harsh, and definitely a bit parado+ical, but for the rare English 4edi breed, they reali;e that theres never really perfect fluency, only the impassioned and ever-approaching 8ourney toward it. %his means that when you finally become fluent, Awhatever that really means to you or to the worldB, you shouldnt adopt the attitude of somebody who thinks CI already learned EnglishD because there are some fundamental problems and limitations that come from this assumption. Here are 8ust a few

*oure living a lie because you never stop learning a language. It is like calling yourself a fully-reali;ed human being. %heres always the ne+t level up, and the current level always needs practice. %he learner tends to get la;y, and its a universal fact about any learning process, that if you arent growing, you are probably getting worse. %he inflated ego prevents you from recogni;ing the final ? or !1E that separates you from the master 8edi breed of English speakers. %here is a tendency to treat other English learners Aor people who are learning their languageB in a condescending, totally idiotic way, forgetting what it is like to learn because they themselves are no longer connected to their own learning process. 'ultural Fnderstanding *ou can know everything about grammar, but that doesnt mean you are fluent. *ou need to be constantly connected to the source of the language AcultureB so that it flows from who you really are.

$o there you have it, 7 things not to do when speaking English. 7ow that you know what not to do, go out there and speak English&