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“When you speak, don’t focus on yourself. Focus on the other person, and the goal you want to achieve,” Marianna Pascal said

Marianna Pascal has helped thousands of South East Asians learn and speak English confidently. In a TEDx Talk, she shared some tips and tricks to learn a new language and speak it clearly with confidence. “How well somebody speaks English has very little to do with their English level, and it has a lot to do with their attitude towards English,” she said.

She explained her point by giving an example of how her daughter hated playing the piano. She said, “Her success in piano was measured by how few mistakes she made, so she dreaded going to piano lessons. I noticed the same ideology of Malaysians who hated learning English.”

“It was also about self-image. They knew what good English sounded like, and they knew they weren’t there yet,” she continued.

So, how did she discover the key to helping them? On a trip to the cyber cafe. “Cyber cafés are gross. Filled with boys playing noisy, violent video games. But I had to go there, so I sit down, and I become interested in this guy next to me. He wasn’t very good at it, it was a shooting game and there was a lot of shooting but not much dying. But then I realised behind this lousy player were his friends watching him play. But then I realised there was no embarrassment, no shyness, he was just entirely focused on the game.”

And that’s when she realised: it’s the attitude. The person who does well is focused on the language itself, and the person they’re speaking to.

She then talks about a trip to the pharmacy, and how she experienced two types of communicators there – one is worried about getting it right, and one who is totally focused on the person he/she is speaking to. “It’s not an art to be mastered — it’s just a tool to play around with, like a computer game,” she said.

“English is still being taught as an art, not a tool. It’s not an art to be mastered. It’s a tool to get a result. And that tool belongs to you,” she added.

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“When you speak, don’t focus on yourself. Focus on the other person, and the goal you want to achieve,” she concluded.

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