Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Q & A # 1 – Overcoming The Fear of Speaking English

Woohoo! I’m kicking off a new edition of Q & A’s! That’s right, for those of you that ask questions about specific things, I’ll be featuring them on a podcast one a weekly basis (might be Wednesday) and answer your questions as fully as possible. Here’s our first question!

Teacher, I would like you to post a video explaining how to overcome fear or how to be confident when it comes to speaking English.

Cristian of Colombia

Brilliant question. Has a degree of self-awareness to it. Everyone in the world wants to know how they can become more confident in their respective fields, more importantly in communication. When it comes to fear, we’ll always have. We can’t banish fear because we’re human beings — when we feel such a thing — our defensive mechanism comes up. The “fight or flight” mode kicks in. But there is a way to handle it by asking yourself these questions.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Honestly, what’s the worst thing that can happen? They might make a mockery of you. It happened to me here in Thailand. I moved to a country not knowing the language, so I’m in the same group as many of you are who are studying the English language. Yes, I was made fun of, restaurants didn’t make my food on purpose, they pointed at me, laughed at me, talked about me behind my back BUT IN MY FACE, but it’s just noise.

Stick to your true values and beliefs and none of that will mean a damn thing.

Afraid of being judged?

I’ve been judged all my life. I’ve been judged because the color of my skin. Yes, if you’re a Spanish speaker and have a heavy accent, a lot of anglo Americans might judge you. If you have a Chinese accent in Australia, you’re probably judged by a lot of Aussies (as videos have shown). But again, where are the insecurities? You. It’s not them. They’re begging for your attention and have an alpha mask on. You, on the other hand, are giving them the attention by seeping down to their level. You will be judged when you’re trying to make the best of yourself…you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable to become a strong communicator in English.

Afraid of failure?

Better make him/her your friend! Failure is one big vitamin to me. I’ve had much more failures than successes and they’ve helped me achieve the unthinkable. It has helped me realize how unbelievable a human being I am. So what, you failed an academic English test. That’s impractical. Can you communicate effectively across cultures? That will be more important in life. Trust me.

Afraid of not being understood? Welcome to the party.

I’ve been misunderstood by my family on countless occasions — and we speak the same language! I’ve been misunderstood by some of my best friends, and that will never change. It’s a part of living and growing. When you’re communicating, people might ask other people what you’re talking about and put you in a more uncomfortable situation. Sucks at first, but what did you really learn from it?

Podcast

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