Cha is a Filipino woman living in Dublin, who struggled with crippling fear and self-doubt before joining Hey Lady! Every time she opened her mouth to speak English, she faced criticism from others and herself.
“In the Philippines, we have this culture in which your intelligence is judged by how well you speak English. When I spoke, I felt like people were only listening to me to critique my English, not to actually listen to what I had to say. It was always about my grammar and accuracy. I just became so scared to speak.”
If she couldn’t speak English perfectly, she preferred not to speak at all.
So, she stayed quiet.
She kept herself small and invisible.
She stopped praying over the food, or saying a short speech at birthday parties, because not speaking at all was the easiest way to avoid judgment.
But all the while she knew - deep down - that she had something to say, and that her voice deserved to be heard.
And it was that little (but strong!) voice within her that brought her to Hey Lady! in October 2021 - less than 1 year ago!
Now, everyone at Hey Lady! knows Cha as a confident English communicator, warm and engaging host and inspiring leader in our community.
Keep reading to find out how Cha used the Hey Lady! Community to improve these 5 essential English communication skills: fluency, pronunciation, writing, public speaking & presenting, and most importantly… confidence!
What Cha did to improve her confidence:
“When I think about it, it was all about confidence and self-esteem for me - I was always doubting myself. I think that was my problem before joining Hey Lady! And now when I see myself hosting events in front of people, I think to myself, ‘Wow, how did it happen?! How did I end up talking confidently to all these people… HOW?!’”
In the first 3 months at Hey Lady!, Cha was focussed on building the confidence she needed to express herself freely. Having spent the last five years feeling inadequate every time she spoke English, she was determined to overcome her fear of speaking, and was ready to commit her free time and energy to building good English practice habits to help her get there.
But she had no idea practising English could be so enjoyable, so natural, and so FUN!
“Everything was new to me when I joined Hey Lady! The first few months were exhilarating. After the first month, I became really addicted to Hey Lady!"
1. She joined as many Hey Lady! conversations as she could
“I was joining 4 or 5 events everyday! Everyday, my calendar was full of Hey Lady! conversations and events. Even if I was at work doing paperwork, I would join Grammar Spots or Office Hours, because you don’t need to talk or speak in those ones, but you can still learn a lot! I remember joining a lot of Conversation Starters and coach-led events at the start - it gave me structure, and it’s actually where I met a lot of my speaking partners!”
As she joined conversation after conversation, she began to notice that she was a bit more comfortable with making English mistakes. That the ladies here were listening to her with compassion and curiosity, rather than judgment and criticism, as she was used to.
And with each conversation, Cha started to unlearn some of the thoughts and feelings that arose when she made a mistake or got stuck mid-conversation. Instead of letting her inner-critic run rampant and criticise every wrong move she made, she started to show herself the same compassion and understanding that she felt from the women around her.
“It felt like I was free from something that had imprisoned me for quite some time. However, I later realised that I had put myself in that prison, because I used to be so hard on myself.”
And bit by bit, she began to trust herself. To believe that her voice - her opinion, her experiences, her story - deserved to be heard.
So, she decided it was time…
2. She started hosting her own Hey Lady! conversations
“I was so scared in the lead up to hosting my first event inside Hey Lady! - I was so nervous I was shaking! But after I finished, it felt really, really good! The Coaches and other members gave me so much encouragement… I felt really proud of myself at that moment.”
Despite the nerves, Cha knew that hosting her own group conversations would help her unlock a new level of confidence. So, she messaged one of our Community Managers to get support and advice for hosting engaging conversations… Then she took the big leap!
And after 10 months inside Hey Lady!, Cha has now hosted over 90 English conversations!
“Hey Lady! helped me to spread my wings and become courageous… I want everyone to know that if I am able to speak confidently like this now, you can do it as well!”
What Cha did to improve her fluency & pronunciation skills
Of course, with each conversation Cha showed up at - or hosted - inside Hey Lady!, she was building her English fluency bit by bit. But, as she became more and more comfortable hosting her own conversations at Hey Lady!, Cha knew she needed a ‘push’ to get outside her comfort zone again and take her English conversation skills to the next level, so…
1. She enrolled in the Level Up! Speaking Program
Cha joined our 8-week Speaking Program because she saw it as an opportunity to boost her fluency and get additional, personalised feedback from our English Coaches.
“The support I received from Coach Kat in Level Up! has played a vital role in my progress. She pushed me in a way that I really loved and needed. I discovered that I had so many things I needed to improve that I wasn’t aware of before, such as my pronunciation and word stress… And Coach Kat really helped me work on them. Also, the bond I created with the other 7 women in my Level Up! class was really great too. I continue to meeting with some of them as regular speaking partners.”
What Cha did to improve her public speaking & presenting skills
1. She presented a speech at a Toastladies event
In June 2022, one of our Big Sisters (an experienced member here to help newcomers) invited Cha to be a speaker at the next Toastladies event. Toastladies is a Hey Lady! event hosted by our team, where members practise public speaking by preparing 5-minute speeches about a particular topic.
“I was really, really nervous! It was the first time I’d ever spoken English in front of that many people - there were 30 ladies there! But I knew public speaking was the perfect activity to boost my confidence and enhance my speaking skills. And I believe that Hey Lady! is the ideal place to reach this goal, because judgment doesn't exist here... It was crazy - I still can’t believe I actually did it! - but it was such an amazing experience.”
2. She created a Debating Club with her speaking partners
Cha and three of her regular speaking partners have created a Debating Club inside Hey Lady!, where they host debates in our community about controversial topics, from psychopaths through to the death penalty, and everything in between! They kick off the events with a debate between the four of them, then invite other members to join the discussion and express their own opinions!
It’s a fantastic way to increase her comfortability speaking in public, by researching a specific topic, developing her own opinions about the topic, and then expressing her opinions - not only in front of her speaking partners, but many other community members!
“We decided to just try it out, and 17 people joined our first event, then 20 the next time, and so on! I couldn’t believe it!”
“And that’s what I love about Hey Lady! You never know what will happen from a small idea! In a community this big, there are bound to be other women interested in the things you want to try!”
What Cha did to improve her writing skills
1. She wrote articles for our Memberzine
The Memberzine is an online magazine inside Hey Lady!, which is created by our members, for our members. It’s an opportunity to read articles written by other members and get to know them a bit more, and when you feel confident enough, to share your own thoughts, stories and opinions in your own Memberzine article! Which is exactly what Cha did to start improving her written English skills.
“I always comment on other ladies’ Memberzine articles, because it’s a good way to put the ideas I’ve learned from books about writing into practice, like proper usage of punctuation marks, and so on. Reading other articles also helped me enhance my reading comprehension, which was essential for passing the [IELTS] reading exam. I have posted my own article about my friend, and another one about my Toastladies experience. I was really nervous posting my first article, but I received lots of encouragement from the Coaches and other ladies, which encouraged me to do it more and more.”
2. She started a Weekly Writing Club
There are no limits to the way you practise and improve your English inside Hey Lady! If there is a particular skill you want to improve, or something you’re passionate about, you can host your own events about the topic (or invite other women to co-host events with you, like Cha did!)
“I have no idea what I want to do next in my career, but I do know that I have a passion to write. That’s why I started the Writing Club at Hey Lady! I needed to find a way to push myself to sit down and write, so I searched for other ladies here who enjoy writing too.”
“Sometimes we have these desires or hobbies but we just put them off and put them aside, saying we’ll come back to them ‘when things settle down’ or ‘when I have time’. But now, because I started the Writing Group, I don’t get to make these excuses anymore! Because I am the host, so I need to set a good example and be the role model for everyone else in the group! I don’t have any choice except to just do it; to spend time writing and submit my work to the group each time, just like they do.”
It started as a simple idea for a few women to practise and improve their writing together, and now over 20 women around the world join the Writing Club - a number that continues to grow each week!
“It is really good because now, when I read back over my writings, I think to myself, ‘Wow did I really write that?!’ I have noticed that my writing skills have improved dramatically by doing all these things.”
“This is what I love about Hey Lady! - the platform takes a “holistic approach” to English learning; we can focus on our English as a whole, rather than just focusing on a specific part [or skill].”
Or, as another Hey Lady! member explained, “At Hey Lady! you can find a complete system to learn English - the tools are all here for you!”
Since joining Hey Lady! just 10 months ago, Cha has experienced incredible transformation - in her English fluency, pronunciation, writing, public speaking and most importantly, her confidence and self-belief.
We can't wait to see what the next 10 months holds for Cha!
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