Join an English Club today for your chance to improve and speak english with confidence. Tell me if this sounds familiar. You want to improve your English, so you look around your area for an English school. You join an intermediate class that promises to focus on your speaking skills. You go one or two days every week and you study every day. You learn a lot of new words and practice your reading and writing. You speak sometimes, but maybe not as much as you would like. After a few weeks, you finish the course with a fancy new certificate.
The next week you have an opportunity to speak with a fluent English speaker. You speak English, but for some reason you feel shy to engage with them. The opportunity passes. Months later, you have barely spoken or used English since completing that English course. You still feel shy and frustrated when you need to speak English and maybe you start to wonder if that class was really worth the money.
It’s not just you
This is a common story I hear from my clients every day.
English classes can be great if you’re learning English. The problem is, many of you are not learning English, you already speak it. In this case, you need to improve your English, not learn it.
In a class, you can only move as fast as the student with the lowest level, as the class often reviews grammar rules you learned in elementary school. You are vying for the chance to speak with dozens of other students, but don’t get the opportunity to.
You don’t need a class! You need to join an English club to start speaking english with confidence.
What is a language club?
A language club or a language exchange is a place where people come together to practice speaking their non-native language. They can be done in person or online with a host to organize the event and choose the format. Some events may have multiple tables for different languages or just one large table where everyone speaks together. The organization is usually very relaxed and the participants are responsible for maintaining the flow of their exchange. Language exchanges are found in cities across the world and clubs are increasingly found online as well. Clubs and exchanges are different from classes because they do not use educational material or have a teacher.
In a class, when you do have discussions, you are limited to the topic you are studying at that moment. While clubs (or exchanges) often have topics, you have the freedom to speak about whatever you like. Clubs will provide an opportunity to talk in a natural environment. There is no script from a textbook or situation you must follow.
This may sound a little scary. It is definitely a challenge for many. But challenging yourself is the only way to really improve your language skills.
I can speak from experience. I can speak my second language well. I can navigate common situations in stores or restaurants with no problem. But one time when I went to a business networking event, I found myself having a lot of trouble communicating effectively. This was when I decided I would find a Spanish club to join.
No reason to stress
There is no grade when you go to an English club. You don’t need to be shy or afraid to speak because there is no wrong answer. You will be communicating in English during the club. You may have some mistakes, but that doesn’t matter as long as the others understand you. Remember, your language does not have to be perfect in order to communicate. If you keep worrying about speaking perfectly, you will never be ready to start speaking in real situations.
At the English club I organize, it seems like every week I have new participants who tell me they just want to listen. It’s their first week, they tell me, and they’re not ready to speak yet. Every time, these newcomers are speaking and participating by the end of that same club.
A good club will have an atmosphere where you feel welcome despite making common mistakes when speaking English. This makes it easy to speak no matter how shy you are.
Good for your bank account
English schools can be expensive. The bigger their reputation, the more they can charge for one course. If taking that course doesn’t help you improve your speaking skills, then the money spent would be a waste.
Some English clubs or language exchanges too can cost money. But more often than not, they are free to attend. Sometimes you may be asked to buy a drink or a snack from the place hosting the event, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Most importantly, you are getting good value for your money. You are going there to speak English (or your target language) and that is the only thing you will do. No writing assignments, no grammar, just speaking.
Find a community
The other day I asked my own English club why they keep coming back week after week. More than half of them said they enjoyed meeting people from diverse backgrounds. If you live in a large or medium sized city, clubs and exchanges are a fantastic place to meet interesting, like-minded people who want to learn, just like you.
Practicing at a club will give you the chance to meet native speakers as well as other non-native speakers. Many have lived overseas or traveled and everyone is there to share their experiences and practice speaking. At a club or exchange, you are free to share your stories and other people will happily share theirs.
Use it for success during interviews and professional meetings
Joining a club will help you also eliminate the chances of making common english mistakes during interviews or professional meetings. As a non-native english speaker, it can be nerve wracking to face an english interviewer or client. By joining a club and speaking with others, you are giving yourself a chance to feel comfortable during an english interview conversation.
Where do I find these clubs and exchanges?
Depending on the city you live in, and how you access local information, you may come across a language exchange club that may be free to attend at a local bar or restaurant. You may find this information on online forums like Reddit, travel apps like Couchsurfing, or even on the notice board of the local library or a bar that regularly hosts such events. During the pandemic, a lot of such events have had to shift online, so they can continue the social interaction whilst maintaining safety.
For example, you can join me every Tuesday at 5 pm (GMT-5) on Zoom to practice English.
If you’re practicing Spanish you can join Spanish teacher Estefania every Saturday for “Conversaciones en Cuarentena.”
Look for opportunities from your favorite accounts on Instagram. Chances are that someone you follow is already hosting a club online.
When the world returns to normal. Use your location to search for language events near you on Meetup and Couchsurfing. You can also ask local English schools if they know where you can join an English club.
Do you want to practice your English for free this Tuesday evening? Click on the button below to sign up for my weekly english club.