Reading through the May issue of Reader's Digest (May 2011, p. 20) I came across an interesting article on "How to Master Your Presentation: 5 Lessons from The King's Speech" by Jesse Desjardins from slideshare.net. If you haven't yet had a chance to watch this wonderful movie, I suggest you do that soon. If you are in the process of learning anything watching this movie will definitely encourage you. If you are a teacher, you will be enthused and inspired. To read more about King George VI as well as the story behind the movie and to watch the movie trailer check out one of OnlinEnglish recent posts by clicking here.
In this entry, I would like to summarize the five principles found in May 2011 issue of Reader's Digest and also apply them to learning English in particular.
- Have faith in your voice. As a child, Bertie (familiar name for King George VI) would often be mocked by the people around him, in particular by his father. Such attitude only aggravated the future king, and made him more aware of his speech impediment and increased his insecurities. Thus the king had to struggle to overcome his lack of self-confidence to "get his first words out." When learning English, not only do you need to know "how the language works," but also overcome your fear and inner insecurity. Your major culprit in many cases is yourself, so keep persevering!
- Admit you need help. Initially the king was reluctant to put himself into the hands of an unknown speech therapist, but overtime he was able to suppress his ego and submit. When you learn a language there has to be a relationship of trust established between you and the teacher. If you start doubting your teacher's expertise you're better off on your own! You can't work with someone you don't trust. It's as simple as that.
- Put the hours in. Bertie began his progress only after he devoted a significant portion of his time to his speech exercises under Logue's (his teacher's) guidance. You can't expect any result with no investment. It would be silly to go to a bank and claim your money when you haven't invested anything into it. How much more than should you then work on your English for it to yield sizable results?
- Leverage experience. "Leverage" is a great word! It means "to use something to its maximum capacity." King George VI discovered that improving public speaking actually comes from using it a lot and practicing it in real life. When learning English, find people that can talk to you on a regular basis: teachers, friends at the University or - better - some native speakers in your area. If you don't have any, we can help you leverage your experience speaking English with the native speaker. Check out here.
- Be true to yourself. Even though Bertie did not become completely fluent and lose his stammer, his confidence had grown, and he was able to deliver his speeches very naturally, and his impediment had made him more acceptable by people. It is the same with language learning. Do not be afraid to speak: even the best of us make mistakes. Remember that English is NOT your native tongue, and the fact that you can use it for communication puts you into a group of uniquely talented people already. Make mistakes, learn from them, and move on!
To watch the movie you may need a script for better comprehension. The full screen play can be downloaded here.