Be proud of learning a second language!
20 Reasons to be Proud of Being an ESL Student
- You can dream in multiple languages.
- You know more about English grammar than most native speakers know.
- You can read more of the internet than your monolingual friends.
- Your perspective of the world is wide.
- You can understand life from multiple perspectives.
- You have changed the way native speakers think about your native culture.
- You understand more of your native language.
- You are more flexible in your thinking.
- You are comfortable being around people who look different than you do.
- You speak more than one language, and most people can’t say that.
- You are more perceptive than others (according to a study by the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain)
- You can identify sounds better than those who only know one language, according to this study.
- You are brave enough to reach beyond the limits of your own language.
- You know how to speak short phrases in several different languages, because of your classmates from different countries.
- You can translate for your parents.
- You have developed an even stronger sense of pride for your native country.
- You can pretend to not understand English if you’re ever in a situation where that would benefit you.
- You use more of your brain than a monolingual person.
- You know what being an outsider is like, so you have the ability to have compassion on those who feel marginalized.
- You’re incredibly strong for taking the risk of learning a second language.
5 Tips for Speaking English with Confidence
- Make eye contact with the people listening to you. Nothing shows confidence more than eye contact. Most native English speakers come from cultures where eye contact is a sign of confidence. When you look someone in the eyes while you are talking, you show them that you are competent and sure of yourself.
- Stress key words with emphasis. Most people will be able to understand the meaning of your statements if you clearly pronounce the key words in the sentence. We call these “content words”. Here is an example: Here is how stress sounds in a sentence when you focus on stressing content words and not stressing function words. (I capitalized words that need stress): I WALKED to the PARK last TUESDAY, because I WANTED to take my DOG on a WALK. Simply say those words more strongly and loudly than the other words. Fore more on this, read this article about ways to sound like a native speaker.
- Ask for clarification if you didn’t understand what someone said. Many times, non-native speakers of English won’t understand what someone has said to them, and instead of asking for the speaker to repeat themselves, many people just nod their heads as if they understood. When you do that, it makes you feel insecure about the direction of the conversation, and you will no longer feel like you can meaningfully contribute to the conversation. To regain your place in the conversation, just simply ask the individual to repeat what they have just said. You can say, “Sorry, I didn’t catch what you said?” Or you could say, “What’s that?”
- Record yourself speaking English on camera. A great practice for improving your speaking confidence is to record yourself and then watch it back. This exercise is for the brave! Watching yourself speak a second language is difficult because we are often our own worst critics. However, if you can take this practice as a way to better yourself, you will become much more confident of a speaker because you will have improved yourself.
- Stand up straight. Our body language often dictates how we feel. Watch this TED talk called “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are” by Amy Cuddy. It will encourage you to stand up straight and position your body in a confident way, because body language can influence our mood. When you stand up straight, you start to believe in yourself, and you will see your confidence increase. Try it right now.
Andrea is the founder of ESLbasics.com and the author of 21 Ways to Jumpstart Your English Skills. She loves teaching English, traveling the world, and living the good life with her husband and two sons