Speaking a foreign language can be really intimidating. You know that you’re probably making mistakes. You’re worried that you might say something offensive and make people angry. It’s stressful!
It’s hard to make yourself speak when you don’t feel confident, but to get better at speaking English, you have to practice. So where do you start? How can you become more confident with speaking English?
1. Fake it ’till you make it!
There’s a saying in English, “Fake it ’till you make it.” It means to pretend to be good at something, and pretend to feel confident. As you continue and build your skill, your fake confidence will be replaced by real confidence.
When you get a chance to speak to people in English, take it! Stand up straight and tall. Jump into the conversation and speak as if you’re completely fluent.
2. Realize that your mistakes don’t matter.
When I was a teenager, I used to think that everyone at school was looking at me and judging what I looked like, what I wore, and how I acted. As I got older, I realized that no one really cared what I did; they were too busy worrying about themselves.
That’s true of your English skill, too. The people you’re speaking with probably don’t care whether your grammar is good or bad. They have their own problems to worry about.
Not only that, but English speakers are already used to understanding foreign accents. Most English-speaking countries have a lot of residents who were born in different countries. So native English speakers have a lot of experience with speaking to people with different accents. They may not even think about the fact that your English isn’t perfect.
3. Take it easy.
Just because you’re speaking to someone in English doesn’t mean that you have to try out every word and every grammatical structure you know.
When you’re in a conversation, your first job is just to listen to the other person. If you’re listening carefully, you won’t have time to worry about your own language problems.
Your next job is to respond to what other people are saying. Your response can be a smile or frown, a few simple words, or a short question. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Don’t feel like you have to express every idea that you have in English. Some of your ideas might be too complicated for you to talk about right now. It’s OK to save them for later and say something a little simpler instead.
In the end, the best way to feel confident is to become a better English speaker. Certain kinds of practice can be really helpful for boosting your confidence:
Practicing speaking will make you a better speaker. Even if you speak by yourself, you’re training the muscles of your mouth and throat to produce English sounds.
Reviewing things that you’ve learned in the past, rather than trying to learn new things, can make you feel more sure about what you’re saying.
If you know that you’re going to talk about a specific topic, learning specific vocabulary for that topic will make you feel a lot more prepared. For example, if you’re going to a job interview, make sure that you know how to describe your education background and job history.
Do you have any other tips for improving your English speaking confidence? Share them in the comments!