What Makes a Confident Speaker? (Part 1: Focus on Communication)

For the last few weeks of 2015 and the first few weeks of 2016, I’ll be writing a few posts about confidently speaking a foreign language. Having learned German and gone pretty far with it myself, I often answer questions from my students about speaking more confidently. We’ll focus on one piece of advice per post, and you are invited to join the discussion and add your thoughts in the comments section below!

# 1: Focus on Communication, not Accuracy (or Fluency!)

The first tip is more of a mindset than a tip, really. You have to keep reminding yourself of it, regularly. A very good English teacher will do this for you, too!

We all want to speak both accurately AND fluently. But, sometimes we focus too much on NOT making mistakes that we make mistakes. And other times we have a clear and fluent thought in our heads, but CAN’T seem to speak it

When this happens, it’s helpful to take a quick „mental break“ and refocus. Don’t panic! Ask yourself the following:  What do I want to say? How can I say it most clearly?

Focusing on clearly explaining your idea will often take away the nervous and unsure feelings we have when speaking in a foreign language.

What have you experienced? Are you more confident when you just focus on communication?