Do you often catch yourself thinking of what exactly you’re going to say a few moments before you say the actual thing?
Do you frequently make mistakes such as saying the wrong word or mixing up letters in words because you constantly think of a number of different ways to say the particular thing?
If you recognize yourself from my description, don’t worry, you’re not unique. There are thousands of other foreign English speakers who speak following the same pattern – they prepare speech in their head beforehand and then try to say it out loud. As you already know, it creates all sorts of English fluency issues with the most noticeable being hesitation, stuttering and using wrong words or wrong grammar constructs.
In other words, you sound very uncertain and your conversation partner may get the impression that you don’t really know what to say although in reality it’s quite the opposite… You know exactly what you want to say, and you know how to say it in five different ways, and all those sentences are right here, in your mind, it’s just that when you speak out loud you kind of want to say it all at once! 😡
I’ve been in the same boat, my friend. I know exactly how it feels and I also know what causes this problem. Would you like to understand the reasons behind this issue so that you can start dealing with it? Then stay with me for a few more minutes and I’ll explain everything to you!
It All Began Years Ago…
Have you ever thought that any issue of a psychological nature can be traced back to childhood? I bet you know that it’s what a psychotherapist would do if you went to him complaining about some sort of a phobia or a mental issue. He’d hypnotize you and put you into a sleeplike trance and then start asking relevant questions which might give him clues as to what events from your early ears might have created your phobia.
Same goes with this problem of preparing speech in your head before speaking out – it originates back in the day when you started learning English at school or even on your own.
As you might remember, most of the time in the English class was dedicated to writing stuff in your copybooks – new words, sample sentences and so on. Homework had to be done in written format as well. I think it’s fair to say that about 90% of your time spent on English studies focused around the written word. You had to read, you had to write, but one way or another all you did was – you trained your visual memory a whole lot more than it was necessary 😥
I believe that is the very root of the issue, my friends foreign English speakers! This constant exposure to written English makes your brain to visualize English words and sentences even when you just speak.
Years upon years of constructing English sentences in your copybook has made you into a perfect English writer and a so-so speaker because the moment you open your mouth to say something during an actual conversation you keep seeing the copybook in front of you and your brain prepares sentences for you to speak and you can also visualize them ❗
Worst of all, this visualization process constantly distracts you and as a result you can’t get fully involved into the conversation. When you open your mouth to start speaking, you keep seeing multiple options of how to say the particular thing because your brain is used to constructing English sentences on paper which involves careful consideration and decision making on how to say it best in terms of grammar, words used and so on.
This all eventually leads to an information overload and leaves you frustrated, stressed out, and generally unhappy with your spoken English performance.
Two Effective Methods To Stop
Second-guessing Yourself When Speaking English
So now when we’ve established the reason behind you preparing your speech before you pronounce the actual sentence, you have to understand what natural English fluency entails and how to train yourself to speak without much thinking.
All you basically have to do is analyze how you speak in your native language. You have to agree that most of the time there’s no speech preparation involved. Especially when you speak about simple topics on casual occasions you don’t put too much thought into the process of creating the sentences and choosing the right words; it happens automatically and the process takes care of itself.
When you learnt to speak your native language you acquired the ability to speak first, and only then you started attending the school and learnt how to read and write. The process is reversed when learning English, however, and you first learn how to read, write and only then comes the spoken word.
Anyway, basically there are two types of situations you can find yourself in – 1) using English with work colleagues, fellow college students or friends and speaking English in more formal settings – such as 2) company meetings, interviews and discussing more complicated topics.
The first type of situations involve more small-talk and phrases that are used frequently because you meet the same people everyday and you speak about more or less the same things. Now, what you should aim for on such occasions is saying what you want to say instantly, automatically, and without much consideration. To achieve that I suggest you to say the first thing that comes into your mind out loud.
Don’t even wait that split second that it takes your brain to start analyzing your speech in terms of grammar – so actually you have to beat your own brain by speaking out loud first.
Yes, you will make mistakes as you speak this way, but then again – did you not make them even with this whole analysis and preparation process going on in your head? Sure you did, so you’re not much worse off – you can be certain of that!
All you have to do is learn to ignore your own embarrassment and also ignore what others might think about you making mistakes.
Of course, it’s not a good idea to speak too fast because you run the risk of getting completely tongue-tied and then you’ll find yourself in an ever worse position than initially. You have to learn to find the right balance between trying to speak too fast and taking extra time to consider how it’s best to say the particular thing – and believe me, it is possible to achieve this fine balance.
The second types of conversations are those when you just can’t speak too fast due to a complex nature of the topic in question, or because the conversation takes place in a formal setting. For situations like these the solution is to learn smart phrases such as “speaking in terms of…”, “you can rest assured that…”, “I’m not in a position to…” and similar ones to fill in gaps between moments of hesitation and get the speech going.
The more phrases and idiomatic expressions you learn, the more automatic you speech is going to become and where there’s automation, there’s little room for deliberate consideration and that’s exactly what you’re trying to avoid my friend foreign English speaker, isn’t that right?
P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!
P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!