Think that corporate language learning only benefits your business? Think again.
Are you afraid of speaking English? Does the idea of using your English skills in a business meeting, for a presentation, or with prospective clients fill you with dread?
It might reassure you to know that a fear of speaking English (or any other non-native language) is extremely common across the language learning world. According to research carried out at the University of Oslo, as many as 80-85% of students suffer from this anxiety.
However, if you want to become fluent in English for business, you need to face your fears and practice speaking English more often. Otherwise, you may never reach your language learning goals and fulfill your true career potential.
So how can you overcome your fear of speaking English? How can you push through the fear and anxiety and grow your fluency so you can meet new clients? Or express yourself in business meetings and even give presentations with confidence? Let’s take a look.
Why are you afraid of speaking English?
Speaking a foreign language can feel daunting, mainly because you’re forced to get out of your comfort zone and risk ‘failure’ in order to improve.
Instead of feeling like the confident and capable human you usually are in your native tongue, you’re thrown back to the time when you couldn’t express yourself fluently. So you feel afraid that you’ll look stupid when you open your mouth to speak, make silly mistakes or potentially embarrass yourself.
The stakes are even higher when it comes to speaking English for business. What if you create a bad impression? What if you mess up your business presentation and even miss out on a deal if you can’t speak as fluently as you wish?
This brings up feelings of awkwardness, self-doubt, and fear that make you more likely to avoid speaking English.
The truth is, most English speakers won’t judge you if you make a mistake when you speak English as a non-native speaker. They’re more likely to be impressed by the fact that you’ve bothered to learn their language and may not even notice those minor mistakes.
How to overcome your fear of speaking English for business
1. Identify your fears
Overcome your fears by taking a closer look at what you’re really afraid of. When you can identify them, you can face your fears of speaking English and learn how to deal with them more effectively. For example, you can turn that negative self-talk into words of encouragement or pluck up the courage to face your fears.
Are you worried that you’ll feel embarrassed and forget everything? Concerned that you don’t know enough vocabulary in English? Worried about offending someone?
2. Practice privately first
If you’re scared of making mistakes when speaking English, why not practice on your own at first? You’ll improve your pronunciation, develop muscle memory and boost your fluency before you speak to a native English speaker. Your confidence will also grow significantly in the process.
Polyglots and experienced language learners like to include shadowing (when you repeat audio after the speaker) and reading aloud as part of their language learning routine.
You can also practice your English by downloading our innovative virtual reality app, Mondly VR, and taking part in real conversations with our specially developed chatbots.
3. Find an informal language exchange
Speaking English in a business context can be daunting, especially if you don’t feel particularly confident with your skills. That’s why you should consider practicing your language skills in a more informal context before you try them at work.
You can use the Mondly VR app to get started or find a language exchange partner.
To get the most out of the experience, make sure you feel comfortable with your speaking partner and have common interests to help the conversation flow.
4. Join a language learning community
What better way to improve your language skills and gain peer support than by joining a friendly online community?
They provide you with an excellent opportunity to practice your English, find language exchange partners and build your skills even if you are stuck at home under lockdown.
There are countless English learning communities on Discord and Facebook. Just use the ‘search’ feature to find the group that suits you best.
5. Get plenty of input in English
Create your own immersion environment by getting as much English language input as you can. This will enhance your listening skills and help you to acquire your new language, not just learn it.
Spend time listening to podcasts in English, watching English shows on Netflix or YouTube, and reading books, blog posts, and newspapers in English to continually build your skills.
6. Speak slowly and smile
Whenever you communicate in English, make sure you smile, speak slowly and have a friendly and open expression on your face.
This gives you more time to think through what you want to say, it will calm your nerves and will help develop your fluency.
You’ll also create a positive impression which can help smooth over any misunderstandings and build business relationships more easily.
7. Forget perfection
You need to make mistakes if you want to improve your English language skills for business. They are one of the best ways to learn as they highlight any areas you need to focus on in your English studies.
Do as polyglot Benny Lewis does and aim to make as many mistakes as possible – perhaps you too could become fluent in three months.
8. Stay calm
When you’re feeling stressed, hormones flood your body to prepare you to fight or flight, and blood gets diverted from your brain to your muscles. As a result, you won’t be able to think clearly and are more likely to forget the English you already know.
Unfortunately, business settings can provoke anxiety for some, which is why it’s so important to find ways to cope with your nerves so you can speak English more fluently.
Look for tried-and-tested methods that can help you stay calm such as taking deep breaths and counting to ten, positive self-talk and challenging negative thoughts.
9. Just keep talking
Practice your speaking skills as much as possible so that you can desensitize yourself to your fear of speaking English for business and feel less anxious when it comes to actually use the language.
By exposing yourself to your fear like this, your brain will notice that speaking in English for business isn’t so scary after all, even if you make one or two mistakes. You’ll also get plenty of experience, boost your confidence and accelerate your English skills.
10. Put your new skills into action
Once you’ve built your confidence by using Mondly, getting plenty of input, and taking part in language exchanges, you can start using them in a business English setting.
Although this can feel daunting at first, you’ll be able to put your newly learned skills and English vocabulary for business into use and take your English skills to a whole new level.
Beat your fear of speaking English for business with Mondly
Mondly offers a wide range of innovative language-learning technology that can help you and your team overcome that fear of speaking English and help you reach your full English potential.
Whether you choose to practice with the advanced Mondly VR app, take advantage of our specialized content for business or simply have fun learning, Mondly can provide your employees with the skills they need to succeed in global business.
Contact us to find out more about how our corporate language learning packages can transform your business.
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