English Communication Confidence Blog

The Imposter Syndrome Associated With Having A Foreign Accent

Apr 26, 2023

I'm here to offer ways for you to unlock your confidence in your English communication so that you can go out in the real world and shine, shine, shine! But, I have a question for you. Do you ever suffer from a thing called Imposter Syndrome? It's extremely common for us folks who speak a second language. Read on to learn ways of overcoming imposter syndrome associated with having a foreign accent.  


The Imposter Syndrome Associated With Having A Foreign Accent

Let's start with the basics. What is imposter syndrome? 

Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern where a person doubts they are deserving of their success or achievements and where a person has a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud, despite evidence to the contrary. 

This can often result in feelings of anxiety, stress, and even depression.

Imposter syndrome can affect anyone, regardless of their background or level of success, but it's common among people who are high achievers, such as people like you and me who strive to be excellent in their second language. Imposter syndrome can be especially prevalent when entering a new environment or facing new challenges.

Recognizing imposter syndrome is the first step towards overcoming it, and with the right mindset and support, it's possible to overcome these feelings and experience feelings of success instead. It's funny to think this, but many people who have attained great achievements experience imposter syndrome.

Still, recognizing and overcoming these feelings can lead to greater confidence and victories in the long run.

I want to remind you, that you aren't alone.

Many polyglots have perfectionist personalities and imposter syndrome is a common feeling for us. That said, in this post I'll provide certain strategies so you can reframe your thoughts when you're starting to feel that little voice in the back of your head self-doubting your English Communication Skills accomplishments. 

First up, you'll need to acknowledge that it's normal to feel this way. It's natural to feel like you're not good enough or that you're pretending to know more than you do. Accepting that these feelings are normal can be the first step in getting past them. 

Second, I tell people to focus on their progress. Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your progress and how you're improving. You can keep track of your achievements in a journal so that no matter how small or big they may seem, they'll always be there for you to remember. 

What about celebrating your successes? When something has gone well, have lunch with a friend to tell her. Or, buy yourself something small that won't break the bank. I spoke up in a meeting yesterday in Sao Paulo and even though they invited me to speak in English, I chose Portuguese. And I did well. And so, my husband and I talked about it after and celebrated the accomplishment by simply acknowledging it out loud. There are many ways you can celebrate your successes!

Reframe your negative thoughts by turning them into positive ones. Focus on your strengths rather than your perceived weaknesses. Just like I suggested a journal marking your progress, you can also keep a record of the positive feedback you get from others. I received a compliment from a couple of people after our meeting yesterday and I could easily brush it off and think, "but I could be better." Instead, I'm telling you that I had success in the meeting in Portuguese. It's on the record! 

Here's a good one: Comparison is the thief of joy. Do not compare yourself to others. You are only you. You will always only be you and you have to mark yourself against yourself. In other words, if you slack off one week and realize that you aren't doing as well as you'd like, get back on track quickly. But, don't look at your peer's English skills and make yourself feel bad. Comparing yourself to others can be a major source of imposter syndrome. 

This goes hand in hand with comparing yourself to others - practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself and treat yourself with the same compassion you would show to others. Acknowledge that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. Reframe mistakes or weaknesses as opportunities for growth and learning. 

Act on what is under your control! Consistent practice is key to improving anything and this is especially true with speaking a second language. Make it a habit to practice every day, even if it's just for a few minutes. Acting on what you're in control of can really help you get that confidence boost and peace of mind that you'll need to stick to a personal development plan. 

How about this one?  Find a supportive communityJoining a language-learning community or a communication club like The American English Speech Society can be a great way to connect with others who are in a similar place as you. They can offer support, encouragement, and advice when you need it, especially when you're feeling imposter syndrome.

Finally, remember why you started. Reflect on why you wanted to excel at English in the first place. Keep that motivation in mind and let it drive you forward. Don't be too hard on yourself and accept that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process.

Ultimately, remember that achieving second-language success is a journey. It takes time and practice, but with perseverance and dedication, you can overcome imposter syndrome and achieve your goals.

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