The Secret of Fluency: The Importance of “Letting it go”
Eager language learners, more often than not, are perfectionists by nature. Imagine this: you are within a group of people, freely and confidently expressing yourself in English until you suddenly get stuck and start making mistakes you won’t be able to stop thinking about for the rest of the day. I’m sure you might find yourself relating to this situation, just like many others. Those small mistakes are the ones making language learners feel extremely uncomfortable, insecure, and self-conscious about themselves. Many people might even decide to never speak English again because they are afraid of how native speakers will judge them. The truth is, most of them probably didn’t even pay attention to the “huge mistakes” you think you made. To succeed in achieving confidence and fluency in English, as well as any other language, it becomes therefore crucial to understand the importance of “letting it go”, which is possible thanks to a more relaxed mindset when it comes to speaking your second language. Of course, clear and correct communication is important, but a second language is supposed to be a great tool to communicate with others, not something to stress about. It is absolutely normal to make some mistakes in a language you didn’t grow up with. Actually, we do make mistakes in our native language as well, we just don’t care about it, we let it go immediately. The aim of any learner should be to feel comfortable speaking English as if they were using their first language, while at the same time recognizing that a comparison between the two languages is not fair to their actual abilities: we didn’t get to decide where to be born and what language to be surrounded by, but we get to take action to change things and start acquiring new beautiful ways to communicate. Speaking is often the most hated part of language learning because it means stepping out of your comfort zone and trying to get closer to other people through communication. Speaking is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable at the beginning, but the only way to have clear and effective communication is learning to let go of the idea of perfection that we so eagerly want to achieve, and which we mistakenly perceive as necessary to be fluent. Fluency is, in fact, the opposite of perfection: it’s free of any worry and fear of expressing thoughts. In other words, mistakes do happen, and you will most likely make some while speaking to others in your everyday life; however, the real challenge is to be able to not punish yourself for those, accepting that it happens to the best of us, and always be willing to improve, focusing on expressivity rather than perfection. That is the only way to allow yourself to finally become fluent.