Oleh: Asih Zunaidah, S.S., M.Li.
Speaking in front of a number of audiences can be nerve wrecking for some people since not all us have the courage and confidence to speak to a lot of people and to be the center of attention in a class, or on a stage, and let alone speaking in a foreign language. If public speaking in your mother-tongue is already a torture, speaking in a foreign language might be like a mission impossible. Well let me propose some reasoning to deal with those having anxiety and doubt in the need to train themselves to speak English.
First of all, English might be a common ‘enemy’ to those who live in a developing country demanding its citizens to speak internationally and to be ready competing globally; like Indonesia. Unlike Japan or any other developed Asian country, Indonesia still needs to keep up its pace in quite a few fields, including the academics. Ergo (if you’re an academic and one of those who still think English is your ‘enemy’), you need to think again: is English really an enemy or is it just your anxiety and fear kicking in?
The next reason to deal with your fear of speaking English is to keep this in mind: learning to speak English is basically the same as learning your first language. How so? Well, there is nothing special in speaking English. Learning any languages would require habitual and regular exposure. Think of it this way: how did you acquire your ability in speaking Indonesian? That’s right. You speak the language every day for a very long time and without any pressure. Basically, it is a part of your daily life. So, why not apply the same method to acquiring English? If you still feel the pressure and anxiety to speak English, you will never get to the stage of it being you second language and soon, as an academic, you will be left behind because English is no longer the only international language.
Lastly, if you think you’re not in an English speaking environment, make use of social media like Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, etc. We are so lucky that we live in the age which makes technology no longer inaccessible and thus, learning anything has been made easy; including English. To expose yourself to English and to ‘train’ your ears to hearing English words, never skip one day without watching a video from one of those social media. Why video? Because by using a video, you can listen to and watch the way the English speaker produce the words or sounds in English. By doing so, not only do you expose your ear to English words but also copy the sounds produced by the speaker for a later practice. Remember, never let that anxiety and fear get the best of you!
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