AEE 135: Why You’re Not Fluent in English — Fear of Success

are you afraid of English successYou say you want to speak English like a native.

You work hard to accomplish that goal every day.

But what is the final thing that is holding you back? Why haven’t you reached your goal yet?

Is it fear of failure? Maybe not.

We think it’s fear of success!

Do you struggle with fear of success? It’s good to talk about your fears!

We’ll help you with this in today’s episode.


A lot of you guys have said you want to sound like a native speaker.

But what happens when you start to sound that way?

You might start to feel like you are losing your identity!

Your actions, your gestures, your way of life might change when you become fluent in English.


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How do you know if you are afraid of success?

  • You procrastinate with English learning: You might have an opportunity to join a language club, to go abroad, or to work with a great teacher but you put it off. You sabotage your success because maybe you feel that you don’t deserve that opportunity. You don’t set up a proper study plan for your IELTS or TOEFL exam.


  • You enroll in classes and then you quit: You don’t follow one English course from step A to Z. Instead you skip around. You work with different teachers, take different courses, but you never go very deep into any of them. You are always second- guessing the course or the teacher. You know that if you followed one course from the beginning to the end, you might have a better chance of success and that’s scary.


How can you get past this?

  • You can have two identities if you speak two languages. Enjoy the different identities. Play with this concept for a while and see if it works for you.
  • Make yourself accountable: Create a system where people will check in with you to see if you are progressing toward your English goal. Don’t keep your goals private. Make them public if you want a better chance of reaching them.


Source: Thanks to Internet Business Mastery Podcast for the inspiration for this episode.


Are you afraid of success? How do you know?

How do you plan to overcome it?

Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Roman

    great topic. . . i noticed that some of the ideas come from Tony Robbins, like fear of success or failure. . . however, it’s quite difficult to develop a commitment for English. . .

    anyway, happy that i found your podcasts. . . these are great. Thank you 😉

  • Hi @disqus_8LgQskGQQz:disqus thanks for your comment. Why is it hard for you to develop a commitment to English? Let us know and thanks for listening!

  • Roman

    hey @Lindsay, by commitment i mean that we get caught up in day-to-day life. . work, house, studying in University. . and just don’t have energy/passion/whatever to keep it up with English 🙂
    Thanks for your hard work. later.

  • Hi @disqus_8LgQskGQQz:disqus – set aside the time for your English or try to make it a part of your everyday life, like listening to AEE on the way to school?! Good luck and you can do it!

  • Roman

    hey Lindsay! thanks for encouragement 😉 will try to stay motivated 🙂

    i’m curious, did you learn any new language in the past? and what did it take to become fluent for you ? 😉

  • Hi @disqus_8LgQskGQQz:disqus great! Yes, stay motivated! Thanks for your question also. Yes, I did learn Spanish. It took me about a year to become fluent because I traveled to Latin America and lived in a “Spanish-only” international house in Buenos Aires and then I lived with a family in Guatemala. Those immersion experiences help you move faster but it’s possible to do it from home also. On Wednesday we’ll have an episode about how to learn from home. The key is your mindset. Make English a part of your daily life but do it in small chunks every day (10 minutes). Let me know if you have other questions! Thanks again!

  • Roman

    Hi Lindsay! look forward to listening to this podcast. .

    1 suggestion – smile a lot. cause one of the things that i love in these podcasts is your laughter 😉

    anyway, do you think that 10 minutes is enought to really learn English? i’m guessing that you listened to Spanish whole days. . . maybe even more 😉
    Thanks, and good luck with your new projects!

  • Hi @disqus_8LgQskGQQz:disqus thanks for the suggestion! Good idea!

    I do believe that 10 minutes per day EVERY SINGLE DAY is enough. It’s all about creating a habit. Thanks again for listening and talk to you soon!

  • Zia

    Hi There, what’s up guys??
    I love to learn English and speak like native speakers. This a great and useful PODCAST(AEE) I’ve ever listened to, I’m new actually with a lot of fears in, but when I listen to your podcast your voices and guide lines make me feel great as energetic to learn it more.

    I have a question that’s: ‘Is it possible to have one or more discussions about different subjects participating of not native speakers on one table that they are learning English now??’ here I’d like to say thanks for everything.

  • Hi @disqus_ulaJ1RomWN:disqus Thanks for your comment and your suggestion. We will have a few podcasts like that very soon. What kinds of topics would you like students to talk about? Can you give us some examples? Let us know thanks!

  • Zia

    HI Lindsay, Thanks for your reply.
    SURE, Why not, it is my pleasure to say something…

    Students can talk about one topic in each session,

    such as:

    1.How to improve our English knowledge.

    2.Which way is the best way to improve the four English skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing).

    3.Personality and how to improve that.

    4.How to get a good confidence when we talk English.

    5.Friendship and the relationship between boys and girls (I mean talk about any kinds of relationship between them).

    — and any other interesting general subjects we are facing them daily in our life.

    The students can share their different ideas to every one. Through this (discussion) listeners can learn how to be agree or disagree, and even they learn that how to comment on someone’s way of thinking and ideas.
    –waiting for your great works…

    Wish you all the best

  • Hi @disqus_ulaJ1RomWN:disqus Ok great thanks for providing more detailed ideas about having students on the podcast. We will definitely consider these ideas for a podcast perhaps this fall. We really appreciate your thoughts and you can always send us suggestions! Thanks again.

  • sara

    Hey, u’re awesome guys!
    But i wonder why not to add some of the idioms and vocab. that u use

  • Hi @disqus_RVING3mmOC:disqus How are you doing? Thanks and welcome! Can you explain your question/request a bit more? I am not sure what you mean.

  • sara

    Well, during the episod definitely u guys use some idoms and american slang,
    so i mean u can add explanation to these idoms and vocabulary etc. to help us to enlarge our vocabulary and idoms
    because foe english learner american slang and stuff not that clear, so we want to be familiar with it.
    Actually in some podcast they do that but unfortunately they’re so boring.

  • Zia

    Hi, I am agree with SARA, This is a good idea, you can add a little details on vocabs which you are using in episodes, this will teach us more new things and especially the idioms and slangs that are not familiar to non native speakers around the world wide, this makes each episode more interesting and useful I believe.

  • Zia

    Hi dear, I want to say something about the voice of the audio files, I think your voices are clear and understandable, but it has a little echo in voice or extra power noises something it makes our ears not comfortable and maybe this’s because of the environment where you record that it’s not a studio. I said this because I feel free and friendly to your podcast hehehehe 😉

  • Hi @disqus_ulaJ1RomWN:disqus Thank you for your tip. We have received this comment a few times and we are considering any changes that we can make to enhance the audio quality. Thanks again for your feedback! We definitely need to improve it! We always welcome any thoughts and feedback. Have a great day.

  • Hi @disqus_RVING3mmOC:disqus Thank you for giving us more details. Yes, that is a good idea. We try to do that in blog posts when it’s a Teaching Tuesday or a Meeting Monday. On those days we focus on vocabulary more than Wisdom Wednesdays or Deep Thoughts Thursdays. However, we are making our conversation service and it will be available this fall. When you buy the conversation session you will get a more detailed guide to the slangs, vocab terms, etc in the episode that you choose to practice. Please be patient for a great service coming soon! We are working hard to help you guys and we appreciate your feedback!

  • Hi @disqus_ulaJ1RomWN:disqus Thanks for your comment again. Please see my comment to Sara above! Thanks and keep listening!

  • Herlinda

    Hola yo estoy aprendiendo Ingles pero no encuentro las transcripciones de cada episodio. Donde las puedo encontrar? Son gratis?

  • Hi @disqus_eHeKrv8unm:disqus How are you? Thanks for listening to AEE! You can get the transcripts here but they are not free. Please support AEE and take your English to the next level! If you don’t want to pay for transcripts then the podcast audios are always free! Enjoy and keep learning and welcome!

  • I’ve found AEE a few days ago, searching on iTunes for a new English learning podcast to subscribe, and what a nice surprise to see that, beyond helping us to learn or improve our English skills, Gabby and Lindsay really care about our comments here and answer us. It really makes a big difference! Thank you, girls! 🙂

  • I suggest you to record an episode about that “click” we feel in our brain when, suddenly, we start to understand 90% of English audios or videos, but still needing to practice or improve speaking to get a real fluency. That’s what happens to me at this moment. Now I can understand almost every podcast or radio/TV news (movies dialogues are still my main challenge, because of local phrases or slangs), but need to find someone to talk with.

  • @almanaquedaf1:disqus Welcome! We are happy that you are here!

  • @almanaquedaf1:disqus Yes indeed that is the next step for you- listening is your foundation and next you need to practice speaking. Soon we will have some recommendations for you on that. In the meantime, I recommend a language exchange. That is always a great way to practice speaking for free. Keep learning and stay motivated! You are awesome!!

  • Sometimes I feel vulnerable , I don’t want to be open to the world and people .
    I can’t forget the old wounds of life , I feel ashamed of my previous mistakes .
    I deny my special ability of making progress , I hate to pay a high price for reaching
    my ultimate goal .
    I wouldn’t rather die for my idea , I refuse opportunities to become responsible .
    I have a difficult time making choices and developing a sense of resilience .
    But ALL EARS ENGLISH changed all that , now I am full of hopes to explore English
    learning . I want to serve on the front line to fight this battle .
    I am what I do , not what I think . I CAN INFLUENCE EVERYTHING AROUND ME !!!

  • Nall

    Hi dear,how are you? I would like to thank you for all of these materials available on the site,and I have to say that I’ve been learning a lot with all of you too. thank you all !!! and stay motivated really is the key!

  • @Nall- thank you and welcome!

  • Christina

    Hi Lindsay, i always like to revise some episodes like this one. I think l can learn a lot. Because some of episodes are really useful amd meaningful. when i communicate with the other person like classmates in English, i always don’t know what i say. Sometimes, i feel boring becuase i cannot find some interesting points. in addition, i think vocabulary is a important part of learning English. DO you have some effective way to improve vocabulary and communicative ability.

  • @disqus_4oq0iry3M9:disqus Hi there thanks for your question. Yes, I think the best way to improve your vocabulary is daily reading. Read the newspaper every day or even pick up a novel and read one every few weeks. Also just listening to native speakers on podcasts every day is great. Don’t focus on vocab lists. Focus on using vocabulary and communicating with the new words. Good luck and thanks for listening!

  • mitra

    It’s really intersting for me that you reply all the comments…i really appreciate that!!
    i have a problem….
    i’ve learn how verbs change in different times but when i speak i can’t say verbs in correct form….in every interviews it’s my big problem…
    what shoud i do ?!!!!!
    thanks sooooo much
    i love you and your podcast

  • @disqus_GDUIp8XJXL:disqus thanks for listening. If you are having trouble with verb agreement then you need to practice with a native teacher! Get one at
    If you go through that link you get $10 USD off your second lesson. Good luck!

  • Anne-Sophie Gambier

    Hi Roman and Lindsay,

    I confirm that 10 mn a day is what the brain needs to make you learn or maintain a new language. Especially, I heard 10 mn of LISTENING is required, so the brain creates new structures. If you learn randomly, let a certain time between 2 learning sessions, what the brain build could have meanwhile been destroyed, so it has to start it again.

  • @AnneSophieGambier:disqus thanks for letting us know your thoughts here! It’s important to know that.

  • And the reasons are given here in the topics to identify the exact flaws of learning the English. Many students still fumbled to make the educational belongings mainly in English since the beginning of it. In that case making proper and precise observances are very much perfect to follow the mentioned guidelines which are very much contemporary along with imperative in terms of learning fluent English.

  • Abderrafie

    I think fluency is the ability to understand others and be understood by them without difficulty, and that does not imply sounding native. Some very fluent speakers are non native and it’s obvious from their accent.
    When you decide for yourself the goal is to talk english like native speakers do, now that’s a source for problems and inner conflict.
    I read this story about a chinese guy who speaks perfectly like a native, but people felt embarassed by his company! The author explains this that way: people are expecting to hear an English spoken in a chinese accent, so they feel disappointed.
    But I think it’s more deep than that: A chinese speaking like an American isn’t genuine…and people don’t like fake things.
    That’s why I opt for global accent.

  • Đậu Erumi

    I like this very much