Are you feeling shy or hesitant when you speak English? Do you ever feel like when you're in a situation where you need to speak English really well, you end up stumbling over your words, talking too fast, or being completely silent? You're a pro at vocabulary, using all the right words and expressions, and you know English grammar like the back of your hand. Yet, you still tremble like a leaf when you’re trying to communicate in English with others.
That, my friends, you are lacking confidence.
Fear of making mistakes: English learners often feel anxious and nervous when they have to speak English in front of others. They usually have different fears. Some fear saying something. Some fear being judged. Some worry about not being understood by others. Some even doubt their abilities, feeling that their English skills are not strong enough.
Lack of practice: Confidence is a skill and it comes with practice. If you haven't had enough opportunities to speak English, it's natural to feel uncertain about your abilities. Lack of practice can make you hesitant and unsure when using the language.
Comparing oneself to others: Comparing yourself to fluent English speakers, native speakers, or just someone who can speak English better than you can lead to self-doubt. And self-doubt reduces confidence. Remember that everyone has their own language learning journey, and it's essential to focus on your progress rather than comparing yourself to others.
Confidence allows you to be more fluent: When you are confident, you are less likely to stumble over your words or get stuck searching for the right vocabulary. This fluency enables you to convey your thoughts and ideas more effectively, ensuring that your message is understood by others.
Confidence makes you want to speak more: Confident English speakers tend to speak more, meaning that they improve more quickly. When you are more confident in your own abilities and you learn that your mistakes don’t matter, speaking English becomes more enjoyable, and you’ll do it more. Moreover, when you believe in your ability to speak English, you are more likely to interact with native speakers, participate in English-speaking activities, and seek out opportunities to use English in everyday situations.
Confidence helps you overcome the fear of making mistakes: Mistakes are part of the learning process, and nobody expects you to have perfect English. There are plenty of world leaders, for example, who make English mistakes in their speeches to the public. If they can make mistakes, so can you! Just be confident!
Here are some easy ways to gain confidence in your ability to speak English. You’ll be on your way to speaking fluently if you follow these steps regularly.
1. Practice, practice, and practice
No need to say more about practice, it’s the rule of thumb. The more you use the language, the less anxious you will feel when speaking. Seek opportunities to speak English, whether it's through language exchange programs, language clubs, or conversational partners.
2. Read the text out loud
Reading out loud can help you feel better about how you speak English. This is a great way to improve your reading skills and learn how to pronounce and stress different words and sentence lengths in the privacy and comfort of your own home. So, the next time you enjoy reading a website, a book, or something else, read it out loud for a few minutes.
3. Stay calm and speak slowly
Many English learners worry that speaking too slowly will make them sound inexperienced. But speaking too fast may cause more mistakes. So avoid worrying that you are speaking too slowly for the people around you. In fact, by speaking slowly, you have more time to consider and can utilize some of the recently learned phrases.
Always remember “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast”.
4. Embrace mistakes
It’s totally fine to make mistakes. If you come across long or complicated words or sentences, just take a moment to catch your breath and then keep going. Understand that making mistakes is part of the learning process. View them as opportunities to grow and learn from, rather than sources of embarrassment.
5. Self-talk in English
Talking to yourself means talking about what’s going on in your mind. You can do that almost anywhere when you are alone. Just talk to yourself in English about whatever comes to your mind. It could be an exclamation when you see something awesome or it could be some decisions you have to make in your mind.
6. Take advantage of technology
Technology has made learning English more accessible than ever before. People can use language learning apps, online tutorials, and YouTube videos to improve their confidence or speaking skills in general. There’s a wealth of apps available for you to practice speaking English 1 on 1 with a native English speaker. These apps will provide you with a sense of privacy when practicing speaking English. You don’t have to worry about shyness and yet, gain all the confidence you need to speak English. The best apps of this kind can include BITU or Camly.