E4 – Real Life

Episode 4 . 17:48

E4 - Real Life - transcript:

Alright. What is up my friends!? Welcome to Speak Easy English: the number one podcast on the internet… according to my mother. 

Thank you for joining us on another episode. This podcast is designed to help you become completely fluent in English naturally, automatically, and without studying any boring grammar. As always, we’re going to talk about interesting topics, 100% in English, spoken by a native English speaker (that’s me). All of the episodes are free and all of the transcripts are available on our website for free. That website is speakeasyenglish.club. That’s speakeasyenglish.club. There’s no need to pay, no need to log in. It’s all posted there for free. My name is Brandon. I will be your host. Make yourself comfortable, crack a beverage, and let’s get this show on the road!

So in the last three episodes, we talked about a lot. We talked about listening and active listening. We talked about spaced repetition, which means repeating each episode multiple times. We also talked about reading and how reading is another way for you to experience that same content, but from a different angle. And then in the last episode, we talked about using the language. That means trying to think in English, trying to speak English, and trying to write in English. Using the language forces you to take a very active role in the learning process. Instead of me giving you material, giving you words and writing down words for you to listen and read, instead, you’re creating it in your head, in your brain! You are creating English sentences. It is a very active way to take control of your learning process. 

Using the language also acts as a wonderful test. It shows you what you really know, and where you need to fill in the gaps. 

We left off last time talking about how you should not be so hard on yourself. That means you should be okay with making mistakes. We’re going to talk about that a lot today. Let’s go!

So first, I think it’s important to talk about about: what is the goal. Some professors and teachers say everyone has different goals. I disagree! I think the main goal for all of us learning a language is the same: learn the language! Now, the applications later on (what you do with that language), that can differ. Maybe you want to read books or maybe you want to make friends, whatever. But the goal of learning the language is the same for everyone that’s trying to learn a language. In the same way a lot of professors say that people all learn languages differently. Again, I disagree. All of us learned our first language the same way, and all of us are able to learn our second language in a very similar and natural way. Now, learning a second language is not exactly the same as learning your first language, but you can still learn that language naturally in the way that your brain has evolved to do it. 

So let’s talk about goals. What is the purpose of a language? It’s to communicate. So when you’re testing if you “know” a language, the test is: can you use it to communicate, or not? It’s sort of pass/fail. It’s binary. You can either communicate or not. It is not about perfection. Even natives don’t speak perfectly. Honestly, I make mistakes in my grammar in every one of these podcasts, but this is how people really speak English. This is how Americans speak English. It is not always perfect. And I’m sure in your native language it’s the same. You probably make mistakes. You don’t speak perfectly, and that’s okay! You would still consider yourself fluent, right? Yeah, of course. So then what does fluency even mean? It obviously does not mean perfect, right? It just means that you are able to use the language as a tool to communicate, more or less effortlessly. If you can easily use English to communicate, you are fluent. That means if you can easily say what you want to say – and you can understand what the other person is saying, then you are fluent! 

That’s the goal, right? Everyone’s goal is to become fluent. And now we know that being fluent does not mean being perfect. You can make lots of mistakes and still be fluent as long as you are able to communicate, more or less easily, in English. Right now, you are probably an intermediate English speaker or maybe an advanced/upper-intermediate English speaker, and you want to get to being fluent. You want to become completely fluent in English. 

How do you measure progress? Well, in real life, it is very difficult to measure your progress every day, and there are a couple of reasons for that. 

  • First, you are so close to it that you don’t have a good perspective. It’s like how you don’t notice a kid growing up, if you see them every day. They’re definitely growing – and we know that – but you can’t clearly observe it because the growth is so incremental. It’s bit by bit – a little bit every day. It is important to understand that your progress is very similar to this. Just because you don’t notice progress every day, that does not mean that you are stuck (that you are no longer progressing). You are definitely progressing, but it is hard for you to notice every day.
  • Second, your actual abilities in English don’t get better every single day or every week. The reasons for this are complex, and I am not a neuroscientist. But, in broad strokes, your brain is in the process of creating and organizing massive numbers of neural connections, and it is simply not a matter of adding some every day. They get reconfigured, they get anchored to other patterns, and integrated in new ways. And it does not always feel like progress. It does not always result in you being better at speaking English each day. But, rest assured, you are moving every day closer to being fluent. 

Let’s talk a little bit about not being so hard on ourselves. Easier said than done! You are here because you want to become fluent in English. So you are motivated. You are probably demanding. You probably expect a lot of yourself, and that makes it a little bit hard because you probably expect yourself to be perfect. You want your English to be perfect. Everything is a test – and you want the best grade. You want an “A+”. You want to speak and not make any mistakes. What happens? Frequently, when you demand perfection from yourself, you are scared of anything less. You are scared of making a mistake. When that opportunity to speak English comes up (when you meet an English speaker) and you want, deep down inside, you want to talk to them in English. You want to use your English – but you start getting nervous and shaking and you freeze when you’re trying to speak. Your brain is blocked and you just can’t come up with the words. Why? You don’t want to make a mistake. You’re scared to make a mistake because you do not want to look stupid. You don’t want to look silly. And it feels uncomfortable to potentially look stupid and look silly and be embarrassed. 

All of this is a construction of your imagination. No one is going to think you look stupid. No one is going to think you look silly. You need to be as forgiving with yourself as you would be with a foreign exchange student, or a visitor from another country that is there trying to speak your language. Would you shame them? Would you think they are stupid or silly? No! Of course not! So then, why are you shaming yourself? What are you scared of? Are you scared of your own judgment? Because, I can promise you, the other person is not judging you. So we need to recognize this and look at it head on. We need to look at this directly. 

It is okay and natural to feel uncomfortable: growth and comfort cannot coexist. So, it is okay to be uncomfortable. But you do not need to be scared. There is nothing to be ashamed of, and there is nothing to fear. Making mistakes is natural and, in fact, beneficial to your learning process. If you are so scared to speak English that you never try, you need to be honest with yourself and start asking “why”. You will need to face your fear and understand that you are the only thing holding you back. It is all in your imagination. Once you are able to get comfortable being uncomfortable – to get comfortable out of your normal comfort zone – you will find (in all areas of your life) that you are able to grow, and adapt, and learn new things without any fear. This is not limited to learning English. This will help you in every aspect of your life. Put away your fear. It is all in your imagination. 

Think about all the reasons you are learning English – of course to become fluent – but think about all the things you want to do with your new ability to speak English. All of those things are waiting for you beyond that fear. Pause for a minute and think of all the things that you want to do. Look up destinations that you want to visit, events that you want to go to, or festivals, or exchange experiences, books that you want to read, songs that you want to understand, friends or significant others that you want to meet, and promotions at your work that you want to pursue. The truth is that all of these things are just on the other side of your fear. Be honest with yourself. You already have a high level of English. Yes. If you can understand me right now, you already have a high level of English. You can be proud of yourself and you should be confident in your level of English. There is nothing to fear. 

If you are waiting for that “one day” in the future when you will finally know “enough” so you can start speaking, or you will finally “know enough” to take the next step in your journey of learning English. I’ll tell you right now, one day never comes. Start speaking, start traveling, start writing, start listening to new content, start reading new books, and start right now. One day never, ever comes. So if you’re telling yourself that you just need to learn a little bit more, listen a little bit more, and then you’ll be ready, and then you can travel, or write, or read, or speak, you are deceiving yourself. Today is the day. Today is the only day. The more you face your fear and embrace new material and start speaking and start using the language, the more you will accumulate hours of speaking and using the language and reading and listening – and the more hours you accumulate magically, magically, that fear disappears. And in its place is an unshakable confidence: rock solid confidence

Guys, I hope you’ve enjoyed this conversation today. Language is so unique. Language is not like any other subject you learn in school. It’s not math. It’s not science. It’s something that is living and breathing that you need to bring into your real life. And that means facing some of your fears and getting out of your comfort zone. And while that might seem difficult at first, learning to face your fear and to embrace being uncomfortable is going to help you grow as a person that is able to learn new languages, learn new skills, and get out of their comfort zone so that you can always be learning and always be growing in every aspect of your life. 

Alright, that’s all for today. I hope that this conversation has been helpful for you – helpful to understand what it means to be fluent – helpful to face your fears and encourage you to get uncomfortable and to step outside of that comfort zone today! To start speaking and start challenging yourself today! 

Thank you so much for listening to this entire episode. If you appreciate having this free resource along with the free transcripts, don’t forget to leave a five star review. That will help me so much to gain visibility and reach even more people, just like you, that are working to become fluent in English. Feel free to email me with questions, comments, concerns. All of the free transcripts and my email address are on the website speakeasyenglish.club – that’s speakeasyenglish.club . And, of course, as always, do not forget to listen to this episode multiple times. Not just once, but multiple times. Spaced repetition will help you make unbelievable progress toward your goal of becoming completely fluent in English. Alright, we’ll see you next time. Cheers!