Why your English isn’t a barrier to your professional success and what is instead.
“I want to improve my English fluency skills and gain confidence in speaking in a professional context.”
So says every single international speaker of English like you.
- Fluency is your ticket to demonstrating your expertise, being credible, feeling confident, and commanding respect and authority.
- Fluency is your ticket to getting a promotion.
- Fluency is your ticket to overcoming your anxiety about your English at work.
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, fluency is “the ability to speak or write a language easily, well, and quickly.
Easily – the words just roll out of my mouth or across the page effortlessly without having to think too hard
Well – with no or the fewest mistakes
Quickly – without pausing
With this definition of ‘fluency’, you naturally assume that that is what you need to achieve to realise your professional goals.
More words that flow, near-perfect grammar and no pauses (heaven forbid!)
You Google search courses, English teachers or language classes where you can practise fluency.
It’s no surprise that fluency/conversation online clubs are widely popular. Each week you get to talk about a pre-selected topic with the aid of vocabulary cheat sheets and grammar rules and it’s great fun.
However, after a while, you begin to realise that these classes aren’t solving your ‘problem’.
No matter how many new words you’ve learned, grammar sheets you’ve completed and pronunciation drills you’ve done,
- Your stomach still churns every time you participate in a meeting
- Your mind still goes blank when someone asks you a question.
- You feel that all that pausing is boring your audience.
- Those new words never come out when you want them to.
- You still freeze when your native-speaking colleague asks you a question.
- You feel defeated wondering what’s wrong with you.
Surely, all you needed was to be fluent in English and all your troubles would vanish.
You’re not alone in thinking that.
In the last 10 years of working with over 60 clients from all sectors of business, the common theme shared by them was the belief that their English skills were their greatest weakness and holding them back from achieving their career dreams.
So, like you, they went looking for teaching solutions and were deeply disappointed when they didn’t work.
If you were to ask top athletes and coaches, they would tell you that yes, learning and improving your skills are important.
However, if you don’t have the confidence in yourself to apply them or if you have anxiety about your ability to perform, the skills you’ve learned are worthless.
Learning a skill is the ‘easy’ part.
Your vocabulary is limited?
Learn more using different techniques.
Get confused about your grammar tenses?
Dust that grammar book off and install Grammarly on your computer and you’re ready.
You struggle to pronounce certain words?
No problem. There are plenty of exercises to help you.
Some accents are hard to understand?
Get more exposure to these accents through videos, films, podcasts. The more exposed you are, the more familiar they will become.
What is much harder is identifying what’s behind your anxiety when you have to apply these skills at work.
- What are the triggers?
- How do they manifest themselves and how can you manage them?
- What’s the story you tell yourself every time you communicate in English?
- How can you change that story?
- How can you calm your racing mind and heart?
Once you start asking, reflecting on and answering these questions and applying some techniques, your anxiety starts to subside.
You slowly find confidence in your existing English skills and your ability to apply them at work.
Finally, you learn, before any interaction in English, to take a deep breath and tell yourself, I can handle this.