Hey there! This is TOP episode 109.  5 Best Tactics To Expand Your Comfort Zone

My name’s Ola and I am an English teacher. My goal is to help you start speaking English with confidence and get rid of speaking barriers. I believe it is achievable for you and it’s time you started speaking English fearlessly! Go to my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Happy learning! 

Hello, welcome to teacher ola podcast and another episode that will help you start speaking English fearlessly! This episode will give you 5 best tactics on how to expand your comfort zone in terms of speaking English. Tell me this, have you tuned in to episode 105? Episode 105 was about your comfort zone and whether you should expand it or leave it. If you haven’t, go there first. teacherola.com/105. I think that is a good order. Go to episode 105 and then come back to this one. If you had listened to that episode please stay, and learn how to get uncomfortable. Stay till the end because I have 10 sentences for you to repeat out loud. 

I do hope I can help you here. If I do, and you feel like you’d like to support my work please tell somebody about the Teacher Ola Podcast and share this episode somewhere on your social media platforms if possible. You can also subscribe if you haven’t yet. Become a member of TOPeople, receive worksheets right to your inbox. Go to teacherola.com/newsletter. OK, now we can start, I give you 5 best tactics to expand your comfort zone.

Number one. Talk to yourself

It might actually be your comfort zone, talking to yourself. But, are you really talking to yourself out loud? Truly? Do you really do this? Every day? Or maybe you do this in your mind, or maybe you only whisper because it’s basically the same thing? Listen, it’s not the same thing. You need to talk to yourself out loud, every day. It feels oh so awkward at the beginning, but with time you’ll get used to it. 

I don’t see why anybody would stop doing that on any level. I mean, even if you feel confident speaking you have to practice, it’s your second language. It needs practice. 

All the details about self-talk are explained in episode 9. Go there, please, if you haven’t’ yet and even if you’ve tuned in to it some time, go back, tune in again. I bet this time your takeaway will be different. Listen out for something you haven’t implemented yet. There are many ideas on what to talk about when to do it, how often, how to start and so on. 

You might think that well, this technique is not for me, and it can’t work out because when I talk to myself I keep on making mistakes, no one corrects me and I have no occasion to confront myself speaking with the real human. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Big mistake! Don’t make that mistake. Not true! I dare say talking to yourself is better than talking to anyone else. At any level. I do it too! Even though I speak English 5 hours a day and more. I still practise self-talk, I don’t see any reason whatsoever to stop. Maybe tomorrow someone would like to have a chat with me about the Olympic Games which are taking place in Tokyo at the moment. I want to be prepared, you know? I want to be able to take part in this conversation. I practice talking about current affairs, news, things which have recently hit the headlines. 

Don’t forget your imagination is not controlled by anyone. You can imagine literally anything you wish. You can imagine yourself having a chat with Lady Gaga, whatever. What would you say? What might be her answer? How would you react? Create dialogues in your head. Create them and your brain will store them for you, and when the right time comes he will remind you what to say. Trust this process. 

Number two. Use technology.

Facebook groups, Instagram, apps, voice to text there are so many ways you can communicate with people in English without showing your face nor using your voice. Expand your comfort zone step by step. You don’t have to jump all in tomorrow and chat with a native speaker in the nearest pub. Unless you want to do it. For starters, write a comment in English, see what the reaction is, see if people get you if you’re able to get the message across. 

Engage in a discussion in Facebook groups. Choose a group that is active and discusses topics that interest you. Maybe you wanna have a dog and you might find a group which talks about this subject. Ask them questions which genuinely interest you. 

OK, so, I’m not telling you to find an English learning group. Find a group which you’re really interested in. Books, music, favourite artists, embroidery, tattoos, plants, crafts, finances, parenting, food, every subject on this planet has a Facebook group and more importantly, every subject has its community of real people. You don’t have to travel, you don’t have to invest any money in it, go online. 

Talking about Instagram, find me there, teacherola.podcast, teacherola.podcast. I post almost every day,  I ask questions and what you can do is write your answers in the comments. I will respond, it’s a given. 

I also mentioned voice to text. This is different obviously, it’s not about communication but it is about technology, isn’t it? You can prepare some monologue, some little speech, your opinion on something that has recently happened for instance and open a Google Doc to name a tool, and instead of using the keyboard dictate the sentences using voice typing. You’ll check your pronunciation, and you’ll also get some basic error correction. 

Number three. Record yourself. 

This is using technology, true, but it’s not the same as what I gave you in number two. This tactic is targeted at something else. Record yourself speaking, just voice to see if you understand yourself. We sound completely different to ourselves, so get this little perspective and judge yourself. Is this speech clear, do I speak clearly? Does it make any sense? Does my pronunciation sound correct? What mistakes do I make? How can I improve? What words do I repeat in every sentence? You know what I mean. Be honest, but not judgemental, it’s not about punishing yourself or being hard on yourself, it’s about leaving your comfort zone, confronting yourself, realizing the truth and taking a step forward. Get comfortable with discomfort, remember? That’s the game. You want to move forward. It’s not just theory. I see every day how it improves my students’ skills and confidence. It works. I can give you a guarantee stamp on it. Just do it.

You can go even further and record a video, and see how you speak. Not just hear. See your body language. Compare it with native speakers, try to imitate them. The way they speak, the way they pronounce words in sentences and so forth. 

Number four. Find a speaking partner.

Does it mean you have to find a stranger to talk to? Do you have to find a native speaker? English learner? A person who speaks English as a second language? No, no, no. It’s an extension of speaking to yourself. For starters, I recommend speaking to your dog, cat, pet if you have one. Your child. Perfect, because it’ll benefit them too! You’ll kill two birds with one stone, that’s smart. Even if your child is still a tiny baby, talk to him or her because why not. This trains you, this sharpens your skill and prepares you for all your future conversations. I’m not kidding. 

Next step, talk to an adult. This adult or teenager, doesn’t matter, doesn’t have to be fluent in English. It’s enough if they’re there and they’re patient enough to let you speak to them. Ok? They are like props! So to speak. If they answered, reacted to what you’re saying it’s even better. No doubt about it! Don’t worry if you don’t though. This is not a good reason not to start. Get yourself familiar with this feeling, practice like an actor or actress, sharpen your tool, it’ll all pay off one day. Moving on, of course, you can find some online communities and exchange language with someone, have even an online coffee with someone. 

Really,  you can find a speaking partner for free. People are looking for speaking opportunities and this is great. I just want to make sure you know that your dog, child, partner, a friend can act as your speaking partner at the beginning. Maybe your good friend speaks English well? Maybe they would like to chat in English instead of Polish once in a while? Ask. If you don’t ask you’ll never know.

Number five. Find a teacher.

In my opinion, this can be the most stressful so I put this as the last idea, but that doesn’t mean I agree with this. No good teacher will ever judge you! If someone had laughed at you, had judged you, you had been unlucky to come across someone who should never teach. I hope you ditched that teacher, and he or she will end in hell where they belong. 

Teacher will refine your language, correct your mistakes, explain grammar, and he or she will be happy for any of your successes. They will give you a pat on the back, boost your confidence. But! Remember to take full advantage of your tutor. Ask questions! What questions? For example:

Did I say it right?

Do you say it like that?

How would you say it?‌

Did that sound natural?‌

Also, ask for any advice on learning methods, share your concerns, and expect personal treatment. This kind of teaching, personal, individual, focused on you to a group, 1:1 sessions are costly, I mean they are pricey but at the same time, you have every right to expect the teacher to deliver what you agreed on. Well, it is not a bad idea to prepare a whole episode on how to find a perfect teacher for you but it’s not today. So, I’ll go into details some other day, and for now?  Time to wrap up. 

What are 5 best tactics to expand your comfort zone?

Number one. Talk to yourself

Number two. Use technology.

Number three. Record yourself. 

Number four. Find a speaking partner.

Number five. Find a teacher.

Now let me give you 10 sentences to repeat out loud. Here they come:

Listen out for something you haven’t implemented yet.

I dare say talking to yourself is better than talking to anyone else. 

Expand your comfort zone step by step.

Choose a group which is active and discusses topics that interest you.

I will respond, it’s a given. 

Does it make any sense?

You can go even further and record a video, and see how you speak.

For starters, I recommend speaking to your dog.

Remember to take full advantage of your tutor. 

How would you say it?‌

Well done! Now, go to your inbox and grab the worksheet in order to test yourself. Complete the worksheet with translations. If you’re not a member of TOPeople download the worksheet at teacherola.com/109 and become one. It’s free. 

If you find this episode useful, tell your friends about this podcast, share it with one person. Share it anywhere you can.

Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next Wednesday! We’re going to discuss the lyrics of one song by Olivia Rodrigo. Be here next week!  Happy learning. Take care! Stay fearless and say it out loud! Bye!