Picture these! A language classroom. A country where your target language is spoken. A networking event with a good number of people who speak your target language very fluently. A bilingual boss or colleague.
Who are you in all of these situations? -A BEGINNER. THE BEGINNER!
Picture these situations again. This time, with you in all of them. What do you see? Are you sitting in a corner or actively participating? Would you say you are confident? Not sure if you are ? Here are four characteristics of a confident beginner.
The confident beginner values communication.
One of the main purposes of language is communication. In other words, to communicate effectively in a language, one would need to listen to understand and then speak.
The average language learner just wants to speak really fast without making grammatical errors. So his attention is divided as he focuses on his responses in the middle of conversations. Then BOOoM! He loses the whole point and can’t give a comprehensive reply. Noticing this, he strives to explain his point of view and makes the many grammar mistakes he was avoiding because this time, he had to be spontaneous.
The confident beginner on the other hand, knows the essence of communication. He knows that it’s far from formulating complex sentences so he listens to understand what his partner is saying and then expresses his thoughts in the simplest way possible (in such a fine way that nothing is lost in translation)
The confident beginner keeps phrases and fillers as companions.
Filler words are used to fill the pauses we make in a conversation while processing our thoughts. Every language has it’s own set of conversation fillers. An example of a filler word in French is ”Alors”
The confident beginner knows how to keep a conversation going. He does this by using a bank of conversation fillers and phrases that he has learnt over time. When you hear him speak, he sounds like a pro because he has constantly practiced and mastered useful words and phrases for real-life situations.
The confident beginner is not afraid of making mistakes.
When it comes to learning a language, mistakes are inevitable. What’s important is that one is being understood. A confident beginner knows this so he doesn’t constantly beat himself up when he mistakes neither is he afraid to speak. Rather, he notes his mistakes and learns through them.
The confident beginner engages his body.
Non-verbal movements play a huge role in communication. When the confident beginner speaks, he doesn’t slouch, he constantly maintains eye contact and smiles when he needs to.
So let’s go back to the pictures you created. See yourself in those situations as the confident beginner. Like what you see? Make it your reality!
When you speak;
- Be sure to communicate- listen, understand and then speak.
- Use conversation fillers
- Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.
- Engage your body.
Being confident is not a walk in the park. You’d have to learn the art through practice. One way to do this is through Self-talk. Stand in front of a mirror, imagine situations and come up with responses. Then do all the drama in front of a mirror. Remember to note those flaws and difficulties you experienced while engaging in this activity, so that you can learn through them.
You are doing amazing! Don’t forget that we can all be polyglots!