Feeling CONFIDENT with your INCOMPETENT English


(Photo credit: http://bit.ly/2fbS5hI)

Spending 90% of your day wondering if you are speaking in grammatically correct English is the biggest killer of communication out there. Understanding that you are not perfect when you start out or are even half way or 90% the way through your language learning process is the key to moving forward in leaps and bounds.

However moving from the point of focusing on accuracy to focusing on acceptance of success or failure with every attempt is the first job of every ESL learner.

I’d like to make a quick comparison here to a very likely example. I’d like to compare learning a language over time to learning how to knit over time! Yes knit, as in knitting a cardigan or a sweater.

I remember myself when I first started knitting as a child. My mother was an expert, she had knitted for 40 years already. I followed the pattern book for the cardigan, did all the loops in the way I was shown, mixed in the fancy stitch here and there, made some errors and found some holes, slipped a stitch from time to time. All I knew at the beginning was that I wanted to make a cardigan, no matter what, I didn’t give up. When I finished the cardigan was completed however it really was very poor, the sleeves weren’t the same length, the neck was too narrow and the stitches generally were very rough and uneven. I could wear it but could I wear it to something important? Never!

I was a bit demoralized on the one hand because I had put so much effort into the project and it didn’t look like the picture in the pattern book. I looked at my mother’s cardigan that she had knitted and it was perfect and even and like something out of a catalogue! I asked her how she got it like that – so perfect, every stitch aligned against another with such precision and detail – and she only replied to me one thing – she said ‘this is what happens when you do something for 40 years!’

It hit me that everything takes time to master, and every time you take on something you need to know that you have to accept the errors and mistakes and never give up. Start immediately the next project. That it is this very component that moves you forward.

So, when you feel shy about your incompetence remember the knitting analogy, you will never get anywhere worrying about it now, use every line you say, every sentence you right and every question you ask as a stepping stone to the next level.


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