#188: Effective Practice to Master Your English Confidence [+ FREE Guide]

Sep 23, 2020 | English Confidence and Fluency, Free Resource

Every new skill has its peaks and valleys of progress. Learning the piano. Taking art lessons. Joining a football club. And learning a language, of course. Some days we’re elated and *feel* the progress we’ve made.

Other days we’re certain we’ll never succeed.

Is it possible to be sure that your efforts won’t be wasted? Can you be sure that you’ll master your skills and master your confidence?

Yes! Yes you can.

In their TED-ED video on How to practice effectively…for just about anything, Annie Bosler and Dan Greene define effective practice and share 4 steps to get you started.

While their focus is on motor skills such as learning a musical instrument or playing a sport, in today’s Confident English lesson I challenge you to think about how you can apply these same strategies to language learning.

The goal: to use 4 simple steps to build effective practice habits and help you master your English confidence. 

PLUS — I have a bonus for you! 🙌

Watch the lesson to find out how to use my 30 Speaking Prompts for Daily Practice to immediately get started.

Master Your English Confidence — 4 Steps for Effective Practice

As I mention in the video, these 4 steps originally come from Annie Bosler and Don Greene in their TED-ED Video on effective practice for motor skills. 

In this lesson, I’ve outlined how we might consider those same strategies for effective language practice to develop automaticity and master confidence.

Step 1: Remove distractions so you can focus.

You and I know exactly what this means.

Turn everything off.

Honestly, this may be the hardest of the 4 steps. It’s certainly the one that requires the most self-discipline.

Not only do we encounter the distractions of children, family members, or roommates, but most of us are also addicted to checking email, Facebook, Instagram, and responding to text messages every few minutes.

This is an absolute disaster when it comes to focus. 

So here are two tips I have to help you:

  1. Keep your practice time short so that you don’t feel so worried about disconnecting from email or social media or people. Give yourself 15-20 minutes. Go for a walk. Shut yourself in a room. Do whatever you need to focus 100% on the ONE thing you want to improve.
  2. You can make this even easier by scheduling it. In Fluency School, I tell my students to schedule all their Fluency School time in advance. Scheduling something makes it a PRIORITY in your life and, as a result, you’re more likely to do it.

Step 2: Start slow. Learn it right the first time, increasing speed or difficulty over time.

Get focused practice built on a good foundation. 

That means learning how to do something correctly, from the start, doing it slowly, gaining confidence, and then picking up speed/difficulty as you learn to apply what you’ve learned and experience mastery. 

Start by finding an instructor you trust and feel comfortable with, someone how has the training to teach you correctly.

Focus on a specific skill and practice it slowly. 

If it’s pronunciation, that may be sounding out a word slowly multiple times before picking up speed.

If it’s a conversational skill, the same rule applies. Practice what you want to say slowly. Give yourself time to think.

Remember — this is for your PRACTICE time. No one is listening. No one cares if you’re slow because it’s just you.

And this will get you ready for the REAL conversation. Effective practice will help you with ease, fluency, and confidence in the real moment. (But no practice will leave you feeling stuck and frustrated.)

As you practice, slowly challenge yourself with speed or more difficult topics, grammar, or vocabulary. Apply what you’ve learned and try it in new, different situations.

This is exactly how I built Fluency School — my 6-week intensive speaking course — and it’s how I aim to help all my students. It’s why Fluency School is so effective.

Step 3: Repeat often but give yourself breaks (and avoid burnout). 

That’s right, I’m giving you permission to take breaks — a lot of them.

This goes back to that idea of short but intense practice time.

If you practice for 3 hours but only 1 time per month, you’ll forget everything or lose everything you did a month ago. 

You’ll start from scratch again and again and again, never making progress.

Instead, repeat, repeat, repeat. 

If you’ve ever mastered a musical instrument, a sport, or fine arts, you know exactly how important this is.

Step 4: Practice in your mind with visualization. 

Imagine yourself in a particular conversation — what would you say, how would you say it?

If you’ve been learning with me for a while or you’ve joined me for Fluency School, you know I’m a big advocate of preparing for conversations in advance by imagining what you’ll say.

For example, my lesson on How to Be Interesting and Cool in English, one of the steps I recommend is to prepare answers to your own questions in advance. Imagine or visualize them. Practice them. This strategy of thinking or imagining what will happen and what you’ll say can help calm nerves and make you feel more confident when that conversation happens in real life.

 30 Speaking Prompts for Daily Practice — Free Bonus!!

Now that you have 4 simple steps to develop an effective practice to master your English confidence, it’s time to get started.

To help, I have a 30-day challenge for you.

Here’s what I want you to do:

  1. Download my 30-day speaking challenge with speaking prompts (available above). These different prompts will help you activate vocabulary and practice a variety of speaking skills and grammar forms over the next 30 days.
  2. When you download the prompts, I’ll include a link to my ‘How to Say What You Want’ training. If you’ve never watched it, do that first and then start with your 30-day challenge.
  3. Apply what you’ve learned in today’s Confident English lesson and follow the daily prompts.
  4. And finally, tell me how you’re doing. As you practice, I want to cheer you on and motivate you to keep going. You can tell me in the comment section at the end of the online lesson.

It’s easy. 😊 

I look forward to hearing from you and following your progress!

~ Annemarie

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