Do you feel nervous when it comes to speaking English? Maybe you’ve studied the language and know what you want to say but just can’t.
If so, don’t worry because you’re not alone. Many people don’t practise speaking English because they’re worried about making mistakes and what other people might think. Yet that person you’re speaking to has probably been in the same situation and had the same problems with confidence.
Everybody makes mistakes (even native speakers!), in fact you need to. They are a necessary part of the learning process and the only way you can make mistakes is by having the confidence to speak, even when you don’t want to.
So, here are some tips that could help you build your confidence when speaking.
- Take your time. Try not to rush what you’re saying, take some deep breaths, calm yourself and speak when you’re ready. It’s a win-win situation. You get some extra time to think about what you want to say and, as a result, it will probably be easier to understand for the person you’re speaking to.
- Don’t apologise. If you make a mistake, there’s absolutely no need to apologise. You didn’t do anything wrong and the other person will understand that you are trying. If they correct you, just take it as some useful advice that you can try to learn from, maybe say ‘thank you’ instead of ‘I’m sorry’.
- Read out loud. If you want to have a bit of practise before you go out into the real world, try reading out loud at home. Choose a short text (100 words or so), ask your host family or another native speaker to read it out loud and record it, read it and listen to the recording at the same time, then you try reading it out loud and recording yourself. It’s a great way to build your confidence with speaking, plus you can be on your own when you do it.
- Immerse yourself. Once you’ve gained a bit of confidence with speaking on your own, you can go out into the world and try to practise more naturally. Ask somebody for some help, start a conversation, join a social group, whatever it is just try to use your knowledge of the English language in the real world and don’t worry about making mistakes.
- Force yourself to speak English. I know, you’re probably tired of hearing it but it’s true. Sometimes you may feel like it’s just easier to revert back to using your own language (for example, if you’re speaking English with other students who speak your language). However, you won’t be able to improve your confidence with speaking English if you depend on your first language too much. It may be frustrating now but the rewards in the future will be worth it.
- Make it enjoyable. Last but not least, do something you enjoy. If you’re doing something fun, you won’t even have time to be worried about making mistakes!
So, get out there and start practising and remember, the English language is just another way of communicating. It doesn’t have to be perfect, the main thing is that you can express yourself and make yourself understood