Over 15 years of teaching English, I've been surprised at how many ADVANCED level speakers feel insecure when faced with an English speaking situation.
(I've also been surprised at some lower-level speakers have such arrogance, but that's for another post on a different day.)
The three things you need to have in the right order are:
1. Know your expectations
2. Have a plan to reach your expectations
3. Take actions to move forward to your expectation
1. Let's talk about expectations first.
What do you want to be able to do when you're speaking English?
Some of our insecurities come because our expectations are either a bit off, OR... even worse... we don't have any.
I've heard some very advanced natural speakers say things like, "I want to be native."
Sorry... you're not.... but, you have a greater opportunity that you don't seem to realize.
You can think in English in a much different way that a native speaker will NEVER be able to do.
2. What are you doing to reach your expectations?
Once we've identified an expectation from ourselves,- some people might call that a goal- the next place people get stuck is figuring out which steps will take them where they want to go.
I talk to non-native English speakers every day. Many times, we'll have very similar conversations.
Non-native: I feel frustrated with my English because the words don't come out of my mouth the way I want them to sound.
Me: That's very common. What are you currently doing to get past this?
Non-native: Well, I <talk with co-workers/ watch Netflix or YouTube in English/ read books>.
Me: And how is that working out for you?
Non-native: Good I think.
Me: ... But you told me just before that you're frustrated because you can't do what you want.
This happens all too often.
Like the classic saying goes, "A goal without a plan is a dream."
3. Put some feet on your plan.
Once we know what we want and we've created a plan of attack for the goal at hand, it's now time to take specific action towards making your expectations become a reality.
The most common place non-native English speakers get stuck at a higher level is not knowing how to continually improve.
This can be very discouraging and frustrating because you know you have the level, but there is something missing that you can't put your finger on.
Hopefully from points ONE and TWO, you can start to identify this within yourself, and you will be able to experience significant breakthroughs in your thinking.
However, there are still a little problem of HOW to improve your English by yourself.
I like how Mike Tyson put it when he was on top of the world:
"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face." - Mike Tyson
You could have your expectations in order.
You can have a plan to continuously improve your English.
But, mark my words, there will be things that get in your way and make your progress difficult.
Your kids will get sick, the weather will be bad, there will be problems at work, you will be hungry, it will be Thursday... excuses show up in the strangest forms.
Anyway, life will throw a lot of darts and arrows at you in your journey to improve.
Unless you have a strategic plan and a way to stay disciplined, your goal of becoming a fluent English speaker who doesn't have to spend a lot of mental energy translating in your head will spend another year on the back burner.
That's just the way it is.
So, here's the key. Focus on the next couple steps. And TAKE THEM.
You have a grand vision for yourself and your future, but if we stand at the bottom of the mountain constantly looking up, we can become discouraged from even starting. Instead, put your head down, grab a guide if necessary, and take your first step... whatever that is.
I'll leave you with a powerful quote from one of my favorite philosophers, Bruce Lee:
"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done. Make at least one definitive move daily towards your goals." - Bruce Lee
If you would like to talk about your specific goals and to learn how you can think directly in English without the self-doubt, hesitation, and constant paranoia of making mistakes, book a call with us and let's see where you are and where you want to go.
This will be a no-pressure call where we will ask you some questions about your English history and future, and maybe even assign some specific training to you depending on your needs. After this, we will decide if we're the right fit to work together.
Let's chat and get this monkey off your back!
Jesse J. Sweed
Jesse is the founder of Sweed Academy and The English Mind. He specializes in showing high-performing professionals how to think and speak directly in English without hesitation and self-doubt.
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