In physics we learn that energy cannot be created or destroyed. The same is true for your confidence in writing and speaking - specifically in English. Confidence is not just whipped out of nowhere. It is deeply intertwined with performance and training. The good thing is that anyone can build confidence with a willing and disciplined attitude.
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Over the past ten-odd years as a language instructor, the most common issue that all of my students have expressed is their lack of confidence in their writing and speaking abilities in English. In my first sessions, I always ask the student how they would rate their level of confidence with ten being extremely confident. No matter the age or position in their company, very few students identify their confidence level as over seven. You wouldn't expect the CEO of a massive company managing hundreds of employees to feel embarrassed and inadequate with their writing and speaking abilities. But surprisingly, even the tallest trees have these internal struggles.
Beyond cognitive training, lies an experiential world of performance education. For both native English speakers and second language English speakers, experiential learning has not been very present in their educational history. Many education systems worldwide focus on developing cognitive abilities where grading is mostly conducted in written forms. However, when entering the workforce, it becomes evident that personal progress in one's career depends on the ability to speak and write well.
Shifting from cognitive to performance training requires you to actually perform. In order to improve in your writing and speaking abilities, you need to write and speak. There are so many layers to both disciplines which can only be developed with practice and guidance. Just like learning to play a musical instrument, you need to learn to play the instrument of your voice - both spoken and written.
Perfection and excellence
Perfection does not exist in performance. If you've ever played a role in a theatrical show over a period of time, you'll know that every show's performance is completely different. Tuesday night's show may have a totally different feeling to Friday night's show. The cast, music, script, and setting do not change. The embodiment of a script can never be one hundred percent replicated. This realization is useful for your own journey of building confidence in your performance abilities. It should ease the internal turmoil of striving for perfection.
While perfection does not necessarily exist, excellence does. Coming to terms with the realization that no performance is perfect is no excuse for complacency. Common speech problems may be the overuse of filler words (like "um", "you know" or "like"), over repetition (as in "we we we"), and other issues with rhythm, tone, pitch, stress syllables, pronunciation, articulation, vocal control, and expression. Writing skills are also very layered with many aspects which can be developed such as concept mapping, syntax, word choice, punctuation, paragraph structure, flow, coherency, and grammar. With practice, awareness, time and guidance, you can improve in all areas of performance, working towards excellence.
By working on overcoming your spoken and written performance abilities, your confidence will start to build. The technical development of your performance skills lays the foundation on which your confidence is built. With the guidance of an instructor, your strengths are reinforced and your weaknesses are given attention. Within a dedicated program, this combination slowly and steadily builds your level of confidence.
Autonomous versus guided learning
With so many tools available to us on the Internet, it is possible to learn practically anything in an autonomous way. We can consume endless amounts of audio, visual and audiovisual content. If you really want to improve in your performance abilities, you can interact with the content and physically mimic, perform and record yourself. Although this is a form of experiential learning, it does not necessarily lead to the progression you are hoping for.
If your goal is to experience transformation in both your speaking/writing performance abilities and your level of confidence, autonomous learning is only going to take you so far. The guidance of an experienced and qualified language instructor is key to fine-tuning your abilities and building your level of confidence.
Where to start
Moving into a new space of written and spoken performance with the guidance of an instructor is a good place to start. How those sessions pan out will differ according to short term and long term goals.
A consistent schedule within a training program is recommended for a short-term jumpstart transformation of your speaking and writing abilities. Our 6-week courses are designed to push you to the next level. One hour of your time is required per day over that span of time. The courses take you on a journey of performance development with many audio, visual and audiovisual resources to interact with. You'll also be required to join some live sessions where you can get the personalized support and guidance you need in order to develop.
Once you've completed one of our 6-week courses, a long term development plan is laid out for you according to your strengths and weaknesses. It can be tricky to maintain your newly acquired abilities. They need to be fostered and nurtured. However, this can look different for everyone. Upon completion of the course, a long term performance plan is proposed.
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