At the end of my second year of acting school,
I was offered to play the role of Lady Macbeth by William Shakespeare in the final school production. (Out, damned spot! Out, I say!)
I did not hesitate.
Shakespeare made sense to me and I felt connected to his words even though I wasn’t acting in my native tongue.
But then, when the director came up with the ‘brilliant’ idea of doing the entire show in a Scottish accent, well…
This is pretty much what went through my head:
And then –
OMG, really dude?
People barely understand Shakespeare as it is.
And you wanna do it in a Scottish accent?! Are you KIDDING ME??
I said no way. I will fail.
I’ll sound stupid.
I could hear the audience saying: “Nice acting, but what’s the deal with that strange Americanized-Israelian-Scottished accent”?
But then, I said to myself…There’s no way I’m giving up on this part.
I know how to work on dialects, I mean, I’ve done it once with Standard American…
So I rolled up my sleeves and terrified yet determined wrote the entire text in a notebook, took notes, marked new sounds and watched dozens of Scottish films (ok, just one). I even took a dialect coach.
I actually did pretty well, taking into consideration the time limitations and resources (I don’t think YouTube was even invented back then).
But more than anything, overcoming this challenge made me a more capable and knowledgeable speaker, and it helped me understand my needs and my accent so so much better.
Why am I telling you all this?
Many people have asked me about my journey.
What steps I’d taken to become a fluent speaker.
After giving it much thought, I detected 5 elements that set me up for success and helped me become a fluent and confident speaker.
Challenging myself was one of them.
If you want to know what the other 4 are, watch today’s episode ‘How I lost my accent and became fluent in English’.
Hey it’s Hadar and this is the Accent’s Way.
Today I want to talk about the five elements that helped me become a confident and fluent speaker.
And I’m going to invite you to join my challenge that is going to take you out of your comfort zone and help you become a fluent and confident speaker as well.
When I moved to New York when I was 20 I had a fairly strong accent and my level of English was let’s say intermediate. I could express myself and conduct basic conversations, but I couldn’t go into deeper conversations without feeling self-conscious or insecure.
And when I’m looking back I’m trained to detect the few elements that really helped me become a confident speaker doing what I’m doing right now. That is teaching American pronunciation, coaching English.
And I discovered five things, five things that were essential in helping me become who I am today.
Now the first one was immersion.
I immerse myself in an English speaking environment. I surrounded myself with English. Now I know this may not be an option for many of you. This is why you need to join my challenge to discover how to do that when you’re not living in an English speaking country.
But for me that was the one thing that really helped me own it eventually. I surrounded myself mostly with English. I watched television I read books I read the newspaper, I had American friends and I was working in English. So all I did was speak English, listen to English.I lived English.
The second thing is methodology.
The method and the technique of what I’m doing today and actually what I’m teaching today. I learned it myself when I was an acting school we had speech classes. In there we broke down English language into sounds and melodies and elements of speech.
That when you understand every single one of them separately it’s a lot easier. And you’re so much more in control when you put it all back together.
So for me it wasn’t about what I learned in school anymore or what I thought I was hearing. It was clear and I had an answer for everything. And I knew what my weaknesses and strengths are. And I knew what to focus on. And what to let go of.
The third thing was challenging myself.
Every situation that made me feel uncomfortable, every situation that I was intimidated by I jumped on it. I took it. I took any speaking opportunity, I took any part that was challenging.
I mean at the end of my second year I played Lady Macbeth in a Scottish accent. So think about it two years before I had a foreign accent and I was self-conscious about my English and there I was getting this offer to play a role a Shakespearean role in a Scottish accent.
I was terrified about it. I freaked out but you know what. I worked hard. I challenged myself. And I was actually really good at it.
The fourth thing is practice.
I Practice. I did the work. So first I had my assignments from school. I had top practice sound so I would drill the words, repeat words and phrases and sentences with the same sounds. I would take my speech book and sit and read it aloud and record myself with a tape recorder and play it and listen to it and play it again.
And repeat it again and again. Every single day. I’m lying cuz it wasn’t every day but I was supposed to do it every day. Don’t tell my speech teacher.
Anyway but I did it a lot and I felt the change and I felt the difference immediately. And then I leveraged situations into practice opportunities. So for example if I watch television I would speak back to it. I used to hear people and I would repeat them right after I would echo them.
I would read aloud wheneverI could.I would memorize texts andmonologues from movie scenesand television series.And I would just go over itin my head and I would practiceand practice and practice.I loved it. I enjoyed it becauseevery time I did it I felt a littlebetter than I did before.
And I felt that I’m actually makinga change. Because those small stepsthat you take they empower you.And when you feel empowered you feelcapable and you feel that you canactually make a change.And that’s the one thing you need toremember when you know that you cando it.You can do it.
If you feel that you can’t do it and it’s too difficult. Then it’s going to be really hard to get to that breakthrough.
The last thing is communication.
I would talk a lot even if I didn’t want to talk even if I didn’t feel comfortable talking I talked.
I talked with people, I talk to people. I would take any speaking opportunity that I could. I used to wait tables so I remember that the introduction and talking about the specials was a thing for me. Because it was an opportunity to practice and I would make a big deal out of it in a friendly and fun way.
And I saw what worked and what didn’t work. What activated people, what helped people connect to me. What motivated people to ask questions and I took all this information and used it again and again every time I communicated.
And when I moved back to Israel and I had less opportunities to communicate in English. I mean there’s a certain amount of tourists that come into the city a year.
Then that’s when I started teaching and let me tell you this teaching was also a game changer for me because that’s when I understood everything clearly.
Because to explain something in a clear way you have to be very clear about it in your head and I think that’s what made the difference for me.
And of course speaking in English and teaching in English helped me become the speaker that I am today.
So that’s it. These were the five elements that helped me become a confident and fluent speaker.
And these are the five elements that I included in the challenge that I prepared for you today.
In the challenge which was a free challenge you’ll have access to LIVE video lessons you’ll be able to interact with me and ask me questions.
You’ll receive a daily email with a PDF sheet with instructions for the next day, you’ll receive tasks and assignments. You’ll make videos of yourselves and you’ll communicate with other people.
We will lay out all the conditions to help you succeed and help you make a change towards becoming a fluent and confident speaker.
To join the challenge all you need to do is just click on the link below and get instructions straight to your email with a link to our private Facebook group.
Look, those five days are going to pass anyway. Question is what are you going to do in those five days. So we’ll help you reach your goals. Don’t miss the opportunity and join us for the challenge.
Also share this video with your friends. If you don’t want to do this challenge alone.
Have a wonderful week. Thank you so much for watching and I’ll see you next week in the next video.
AN UPDATE: It was a fantastic Challenge that eventually led to another one and to creating our precious learning community of non-native English Speakers called InFluency Community. You could join us here.