All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination. -Earl Nightingale
Sometimes, people say to me that they want to speak English more clearly but they feel they don’t need to take a course to do it. After all, you can learn anything on the internet these days.
I understand what they're saying.
I tend to want to figure things out on my own. Personally, I love to make things with my hands. Many of the hobbies I have picked up over the years I figured out through free online tutorials, books and articles. Skills I learned this way include jewelry design, knitting, crochet, making glass beads, chain-mail, tile making, and stained glass.
Inspired by the beautiful Moroccan designs of repeating patterns, I knew the next thing I wanted to learn was how to make my own mosaics. I assumed I would go about it the way I always did, by setting off on my own and figuring it out myself.
Then a friend suggested we take a mosaic class together. Although it was not something I would have sought out myself, my friend knew the instructor and said it would be worth the investment. We were going to be the only two in the class, which meant more individualized attention.
Still, I had doubts. My schedule was busy. This would require me to spend 2 hours in a class on a Wednesday night for 5 weeks. Did I want to commit to that? Well, I am so glad I did.
I saved so much time.
The time I spent in class was half of what I would have spent figuring it out alone. Because the instructor had been creating beautiful mosaics for years, he was able to teach me time-saving techniques I would not have discovered on my own.
He taught me which tool was best for each step and how to use it properly. Yes, I could have figured it out with trial and error, but having my instructor show me how to do it right the first time was a huge time-saver. He made sure I didn't wander off course.
When I had questions about design or technique he was able to guide me right away. He gave me feedback and explained what I was doing wrong so that I didn’t waste time and effort (and valuable supplies).
Working closely with my instructor allowed me to speed up my progress and gain momentum with each step.
My instructor gave me the feedback I needed.
It wasn't entirely about learning a skill more quickly. My instructor gave me a deeper understanding of what I was trying to learn through valuable feedback.
He taught me about the various types of glass and which type is better for certain designs than others. He stepped in when I was about to make an awful color choice and explained why another option would be much better.
Chances are, without expert guidance, I probably would have been a little overwhelmed with figuring out what my options were, gotten frustrated with techniques that didn’t work very well and more than likely lost momentum, set it aside and told myself I would pick it back up later.
Instead, the final result was that I had a beautiful mosaic that I was proud enough of to hang in my home and look at everyday, not only because I like the finished product but because of the accomplishment of having learned how to do it properly.
The same lessons applies to improving your English pronunciation with accent training.
There are plenty of articles and tutorials online that can teach you different aspects of how to improve your accent. The problem is that it's like having a map of a large foreign city but no idea how the locals get to their destination the fastest.
The question is do these resources provide you with a system of where to start, what you specifically should focus on and exactly how to speak English the way they describe?
How will you know if you’re doing it correctly? If you learn one technique, who can correctly answer your three other questions that relate to it?
If you get overwhelmed, who will show you it’s not as confusing as you think and encourage you to keep going?
This is the value of working with an English pronunciation specialist. You save valuable time and energy because you have an instructor that develops your personal road map. This map shows you the most direct route to your end goal. No getting lost in dead-ends or going down paths that don't apply to you.
Learning a new hobby like mosaics doesn’t impact your life as much as improving your communication. Communication is required for every interaction we have. If communicating clearly is essential for your career, can you really spare the time to figure it out on your own?
If you have the courage to improve your communication skills, find an instructor that can help you develop a plan and give you a road map to get there.
Develop your plan
Answer these questions before you start English pronunciation training to clarify what your communication needs are and what you want to achieve:
- Why do you need to improve your English pronunciation skills? Is it for presentations, to work with clients, secure a promotion?
- What speaking situations give you the most trouble? Talking on the phone, in team meetings, when you're nervous?
- Do you sometimes have difficulty understanding people you work with? Is it what they say or how they say it?
- Do you avoid speaking in some situations and, if so, why?
- How are your English pronunciation skills affecting your life right now?
- How would your life improve if communication was not a problem for you?
Are you ready to speak clear, easy-to-understand English?