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Toastmasters for ESL Students

Toastmasters ESL Students Feature

Toastmasters for ESL Students

I took Toastmasters for a full year. Let me just say, it’s not easy for introverts like myself (even as a native English speaker). But, what I can say is that it helped me develop professionally.

I saw speakers from Asia and Latin America grow in their language skills. They gave speeches. And they even participated in impromptu speaking (something they call Table Topics).

I no longer attend Toastmasters. But for anyone who wants to learn English, this is one of the best ways to practice speaking English. Here’s my personal experience.

My Love-Hate Relationship for Toastmasters

Let me just start by saying. Toastmasters wasn’t easy for me. I hesitantly went every week. I never looked forward to it.

“How am I going to embarrass myself today?” That was the question I had in my head every time I went up to the podium.

Then, why did I go? It came down to my philosophy in life. I have two favorite quotes in life that guide me. My second favorite quote is this:

“If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.”

That’s why I joined Toastmasters. I wanted to succeed at my biggest failure in life. Public speaking is my failure. I still fail at it.

Sometimes, I’d just stand there at the podium in front of everyone. I was at a loss for words. I’d embarrass myself repeatedly. Week after week.

For some people, public speaking comes naturally. That’s not me. I went to Toastmasters to succeed at my biggest failure in life… and it’s still a fight.

That’s my rant.

Now, I want to share some of my experiences. How did the ESL students who attended my Toastmasters club do? Honestly, most improved… Here’s what I’ve learned.

Skills From Toastmasters

Toastmaster Skills

Toastmasters helped a lot of ESL students speak better English. If you’ve never been, Toastmasters is a place where mistakes are okay.

You learn by doing. I nervously spoke in front of an audience. ESL students did too. Because really, everyone there wants to improve, just like you.

Here are the biggest skills that I felt ESL students learned.

1. Enhanced English Proficiency

Enhanced English Proficiency

First off, Toastmasters is a fantastic place to practice English. You get to speak a lot, which helps learn a language. Making mistakes is part of the process, and everyone is there to learn. This is great because it helps build confidence as an ESL speaker.

Feedback is another big plus. “Everything is evaluated at Toastmasters.” You’ll hear that a lot when you’re there. You learn what you’re doing well and what you can improve. This kind of advice is gold for someone learning a language.

So, joining Toastmasters can speed up your English learning journey. Plus, it’s fun for some people. You’ll make friends who are also working on their skills. Toastmasters has helped millions of people overcome their fear of public speaking.

2. Public Speaking Skills

Public Speaking Skills

Toastmasters gives you tons of practice. Public speaking is like a muscle—the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Toastmasters gives you regular opportunities to speak in front of others.

Secondly, it’s a supportive environment. Everyone is there to improve, so you receive constructive feedback. This helps you see exactly where and how you can get better. These details can make a big difference in how you deliver a speech.

You’ll learn to handle nerves too. It’s normal to feel nervous when speaking in public. Toastmasters shows you how to use that nervous energy to your advantage. Things like eye contact, gestures, and posture make your message stronger.

3. Listening Skills

Listening Skills

Toastmasters is not just about speaking. You’ll listen to others too. Listening is a key skill in any language. You’ll get better at understanding spoken English. This trains your ear in English.

Toastmasters also has roles specifically designed to enhance listening skills. For example, the “Ah-Counter” listens for filler words, while the “Grammarian” listens for grammatical errors and noteworthy uses of language. Taking on these roles focuses your listening on specific aspects of language use.

Feedback sessions are a goldmine for listening practice. You learn to catch details in speeches, so you can give constructive feedback. This sharpens your attention and comprehension skills. Active participation in meetings also means you have to listen closely to follow the meeting’s flow.

4. Leadership and Teamwork

Leadership and Teamwork

Toastmasters meetings are member-led. This means you get to take on leadership roles. You’ll learn to organize meetings and collaborate with others towards a common goal.

Toastmasters encourages mentorship. More experienced members mentor newer ones. This teaches leadership through guidance and support. It’s a hands-on way to learn how to uplift and inspire others.

Joining Toastmasters can significantly boost your leadership and teamwork skills. It’s not just about speaking; it’s about leading and working together. Leaders need to set clear objectives and plan how to achieve them. Toastmasters projects require exactly this kind of thinking.

5. Cultural Exchange and Networking

Cultural Exchange and Networking

Toastmasters clubs are diverse. You’ll meet people from all walks of life. This means you get to hear different accents and ways of speaking English. It’s like a live language lab.

Networking is a natural part of Toastmasters. You connect with professionals, students, and people from various backgrounds. These connections can lead to friendships, mentorships, and even job opportunities.

During meetings, members often share personal stories or cultural insights. Toastmasters events, like conferences and competitions, broaden your network even further. You meet members from other clubs and districts. This expands your social and professional circle.

Is Toastmasters Right For You?

Do you want to succeed in life? Do things you hate. It’s like lifting weights. It hurts. But you get stronger.

Toastmasters is a bit scary at first, but it’s worth it. Toastmasters is in over 140 countries. That’s a lot of people getting better at speaking. 

I’ve already told you my second favorite quote. But what’s my favorite quote? Warning. It’s a bit morbid. It’s from the movie, “Training Day”. Here it is:

Death is certain. Life is not.

Taking on challenges makes us stronger, even when it’s tough. Toastmasters might seem intimidating, but it’s a step toward growth and confidence. Just like facing any fear, it builds your strength.

And remember, “Death is certain. Life is not.” So, embrace every opportunity to grow, including Toastmasters, and make the most of life.

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