“My grammar/ speaking/ writing etc. is bad”
“Is it? Really? Are you sure? Who told you that?” These are the questions I ask my students (or anyone) who say such things. The first point is who are you to judge your grammar, speaking etc. and who are you comparing yourself to? You are unlikely to be an expert in language assessment and comparing yourself to a native speaker is a poor choice because the result of this comparison is usually negative and if affects your confidence. So, why not compare yourself to the old you?
What you think about yourself and say to yourself is a very important and fundamental part of your existence and it affects how well you learn a language and how you perform in an English Proficiency test. So, don’t lie to yourself. Saying ‘My English is terrible’ is not true and it’s not helpful. Whenever you start to have those thoughts, you need to be aware of them, notice them, not judge them and then replace them with a more truthful and helpful thought such as ‘Every day my English gets better and better’. In fact, that is the truth because if you connect to the language daily in some way and you have the intention to learn (not just study), then your English must improve.
Confidence is a key part of language learning. Those who can simply try and talk to as many people in English at every opportunity certainly learn more quickly. So, social confidence helps to give you more opportunities to practice, and practice creates confidence. This is why many people say their English is better after drinking alcohol. Alcohol reduces inhibitions so you simply don’t care so much and you are not worried about mistakes. Actually, this is how Rob improved his French when he lived in France. There was a happy hour every day in ‘Le Petit Bar’. Obviously, drinking alcohol has many risks, so now that we are a bit more mature, we wouldn’t recommend it 😉
Is it ok to be wrong, to ‘fail’?
Beware of your culture and its education system. I meet so many students, particularly from East Asia whose education systems have taught them and brainwashed them to believe that failure is bad. The problem is that when you learn another language you can only succeed if you fail a lot. So, many of these students cannot become fluent because they are too busy trying to be correct. They are focusing on accuracy. In English proficiency tests many students do not get their required score because they hesitate too much, which negatively affects their fluency and their score.
Remember that most people will respect you for trying to speak another language not judge you for making mistakes. Those who do judge you negatively are not worth knowing anyway, so it’s a useful way to remove negative people from your life 😉