The CONFIDENT ESL speaker is dead – the COURAGEOUS is the new WINNER


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To define confidence in speaking is to realise that it refers to someone who speaks the same thing over and over again until they are so confident, that will feel secure in themselves that if they say that phrase again, they won’t get it wrong. This is an important quality to have in the early months of learning English, however it is the courageous speaker who is the one who will be constantly breaking new ground, no matter what, and eventually become so much more competent in the long run.

In the early stages of learning there is definitely a place for repetitive speaking, as an ESL speaker does need to nail the ‘chunks’ of common phrases that are often used. This is very important. But something I have noticed is that after about three months of this, there are a lot of students who are incredibly good at reciting the common conversational phrases and enjoy having a variety of conversations so long as the other person asks them the right questions. These ones on the 4th month tend to start to disappear as they realise that ‘memorising’ key phrases has its limitations long term. It is the student who is willing to jump out of the norm and try something new ‘courageously’ who seems to propel themselves forward ahead of these previously A students.

Often it is the more creative thinking students, who like to make jokes, and fool around who take the lead. They are not afraid to make mistakes and look foolish, as that’s what they love to do, but at the same time they are quietly learning the smart way, making errors but taking themselves and those around them to new heights of understanding.

Be courageous rather than confident, not everyone is cut out to be confident, but everyone has the ability to show courage no matter how small or big.


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