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We all get our good and bad days. There are some days when everything seems to be acting against us, but then on other days we’re flying and we get all tasks done easily. And you know what? It’s pretty normal!
Same goes with English fluency. There are days when we can speak English with such ease it seems we were born English speakers. Sometimes it’s quite the opposite – we have to make effort to verbalize our thoughts and we also tend to make more mistakes when speaking than normally.
And you know what? It’s normal, too!
But today’s story isn’t about the fluctuating English fluency. Today I wanted to share with you something I noticed recently at work, and to be honest with you, it didn’t just happen overnight, it’s just that all the pieces came together just now.
So to cut a long story short, I noticed that I’m best at speaking English with my work colleagues on Thursdays. If you’ve known me for a while, you’ll know that I feel comfortable enough when speaking English on any day of the week, yet for some odd reason my English fluency trend would peak on Thursdays in particular.
On Thursdays I’d speak absolutely effortlessly with everyone working in the office, with manufacturing department managers and of course, those working with me in the dispatch. OK, but why Thursdays? What Thursdays have got to do with one’s English fluency levels?
You see, the thing is that Thursdays happen to be the busiest days of my working week! I work in a knitwear manufacturing company and normally customers want to receive their orders by Friday, which means they have to be dispatched on Thursday at latest.
So the whole production process is geared up towards meeting the targets and getting the orders out for the end of the week, and there’s a real mayhem taking place on Thursdays in our company! Orders have to be brought back and forth for different manufacturing stages, new orders have to be entered on the computer system because there are always some customers making the last minute decisions on taking in some extra stock and so on.
When it’s so busy, I often find doing five things at a time, and this is when my multitasking skills are put to the test. I’m often asked to chase up an order for a particular customer while getting up an order for another one, and amidst it all I and my partner have to make sure e-mail is checked regularly, new orders are entered in, and of course – orders are packed and dockets are printed off. In other words, Thursdays are those days when I’m literally running around all the time.
And nowÂ I’veÂ come to the point where English fluency gets involved. You see – our work process involves constant communication, and I have to speak to dozens of different people in all our company’s departments during the day, and you can only imagine what happens on Thursdays. I’m under pressure, so I have to make my point quickly and clearly so that communication is effective.
I simply can’t afford wasting time on finding the best fitting words to get the message across, and my mind is too preoccupied with everything that’s going on to start making mistakes and consider multiple options when speaking ❗
In other words, it’s a typical example of a person performing best when under pressure, and I have a strong feeling that it’s also the case when speaking English is involved. When you’re under pressure, much of your dormant body potential is engaged, and all of a sudden you find that you can perform tasks that you normally would avoid.
It’s when you’re fully involved in an English conversation and you don’t even give your mind a chance to start dwelling on other things that your true potential as an English speaker is realized ❗
So what it means to you as a foreign English speaker in practical terms? Simple enough – the busier you are at any given moment, the bigger the chance that you’ll be more confident as an English speaker!
You have to understand that the speech process has little to do with your conscious mind, and quite often you’ll find that the more effort you make into creating perfect English sentences in your head, the more hesitant and interrupted your speech becomes.
A truly fluent speech is a spontaneous process, and you kind of have to allow it to happen on its own while your mind is engaged with tasks at hand. It’s very similar to when you’re driving a car and you can do it very well under normal circumstances but at the moment someone who you want to impress with your driving skills sits next to you, you get very conscious of your driving style, you feel clumsy, and you may even make errors of judgment while driving.
A similar thing is happening to me whenever I’m playing a guitar in front of a few people – I get very nervous, I start getting chords wrong, strumming pattern gets messed up, but none of it happens when I practice guitar play on my own. It’s like a bad magic, but in reality it’s all very simple – the moment you become conscious of your own performance, the performance itself may deteriorate big time!
So the more conscious you become of your own English conversations, the bigger the chance you’ll get something wrong, so you just have to make sure you’re constantly preoccupied with something else at work or wherever it may be you find yourself among other English speakers.
If you’re already very busy at work on a daily basis – fair enough! But there’s so much you can do to make yourself busy even during a normal working day, and here’s just a few things I would do myself when at work. It’s all common sense and some of you may think I’m being a bit too simplistic in my views that it will have some impact on your spoken English fluency, but you know what? Every little counts and it’s the simple things in life that sometimes make a big difference!
So, make it your habit being proactive rather than waiting on others to tell you what to do. I know it’s easier said than done, but all it really takes to be always on the move and in the thick of it is to reply to that e-mail you’ve been keeping in your inbox for two days straight… Pick up the phone and make that dreaded phone call to the technical department to figure out why that annoying customer can’t unsubscribe from the premium alert service.
If it’s obvious that something needs to be done, don’t leave it to others, use your initiative and make it your goal to be constantly doing something and you’ll see that your action will result in more interpersonal contact, and that’s exactly what you need to become a more fluent and confident English speaker – as much communication as possible!
Make new friends, volunteer to do things, and learn to ignore the feeling that you might be annoying for some who’ll think that this super-active idiot is trying to get a promotion or something. You’ll never please everyone, it’s actually one of the most important life lessons you’ll ever learn, so don’t get sidetracked and focus on your personal and mental development instead of what others think of you.
So by not postponing things, making sure you’re generally friendly, polite and get involved in things that are going on around you, you’ll do a big service to your spoken English fluency! 😉
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