1. Challenge yourself!
When I first arrived in Australia 12 years ago as an international student I knew only the basics of English, such as “hi”, “how are you? “yes” “no” “good morning” “good night”… You get the idea. I needed money, so I got a job in a restaurant as a waitress – 2 weeks after arriving. I had no choice but to speak English. I needed the job so I quickly learnt how to take orders and give orders. Don’t be afraid to throw yourself in the deep end, you will be surprised by how well you can swim, maybe not well on the first day but you’ll start to see and feel the magic after a few days. After a month I was training Australian staff!
2. Speak as much as possible
The more you practice, the better you get. The more you speak:
- the easier it wil be to speak
- the better your English will become
- the more confident you will be at speaking your second language!
Make it a goal each day to:
- speak on the phone
- repeat television lines, radio lines or songs
- read out aloud
- chat with people online
- talk to people while doing tasks ie grocery store, convenience store, post office, bus stop, taxi
I came here alone, I didn’t know anybody. The plan was to study 6 months of English, make the most of my experience and then go back home to Colombia. I knew I had to make money to get by while I was here but it was a burning desire in me to be different and competitive to get ahead in life. So, I made special effort to speak to customers, coworkers and my boss. The confidence was only there because I was speaking to everyone. This enabled me to rise up the ranks so quickly and start training new staff.
3. Surround yourself with English speaking friends
I was always fascinated with different cultures. Growing up, these were things that I only ever saw in movies. So now that I had the opportunity in Australia, I started making friends from different backgrounds – Thailand, Japan, India and so on. As they were introducing me to their culture, I was introducing them to mine so we used to hold dinner parties, BBQ’s, and go to different social events. Discover what you are passionate about so you can meet people with common interests. This is now made easier through websites like Meetup.com or if you are local to Melbourne, join any one of our events where we encourage you to meet new friends from different backgrounds.
4. Practice with a friend
Learning shouldn’t be boring and hard. Create an environment for yourself where you are maximising learning – meet people with the same mindset and same level of English. Even if you are both from the same country, speak to each other in English. Chances are, you are both experiencing similar challenges, you can overcome these challenges together. Your friend may know about something more than you, vice versa, this is where exchanging knowledge is most beneficial.
4. Target an area
Whether it’s speaking, listening, reading or writing, target one area where you are lacking most confidence and work on improving that to a level that you are confident with. This doesn’t always necessarily have to be formal lessons. I lacked confidence in listening and speaking, so while my friends spent all their time listening to Spanish music and Spanish movies, I made an effort to listening to English music, watching English movies just to hear them speak so I can practice in my own time.
5. Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Through a friend I met a Polish man. It just so happenened that he was keen to learn Spanish. He was fascinated by the Colombian culture as he was planning to travel around South America. So, I made him an offer. In return for introducing him to the Colombian culture and teaching him to speak Spanish I asked him to help me with my English. He agreed! As I was also new to the country, he suggested that we take our lessons in some of the most beautiful and breathtaking parts of Victoria such as Ocean Grove, Great Ocean Road, Geelong and many other places.
6. Believe it!
At the end of the day, it all comes down to you and your self-belief. You HAVE to believe that you can do it. It was through self-belief that after completing 6 months of an English course, I went onto a Diploma in Business Marketing. This is where I was provided with an opportunity to start my own business. I explored this opportunity further, built my reputation by then completing a Bachelor in Business Marketing degree at Swinburne University and went onto start Blue Studies International.
Comment below to let us know what confidence challenges you face when speaking English. We can answer your questions in our next blog post.