If you are one of these students who is afraid of speaking, do no not worry, you are not alone! Most students of English, both at beginner and advanced levels, find speaking the most difficult skill to learn. They fear making mistakes, using wrong tense, or pronouncing words incorrectly. They think they will make fools of themselves, feel embarrassed and stressed when speaking English.
Below, you will find some useful tips on how you can overcome this fear and make a journey towards speaking English with confidence.
1. Change your attitude.
Nobody speaks perfect English, or English perfectly! Even native speakers make grammar mistakes, mispronounce words or use wrong words or expressions. This is natural. Also, as figures show, you are much more likely to speak English to somebody who is not a native speaker anyway, as out of the total of 1.1 billion English speakers in the world, only 380 million, that is 15% of the world’s population have English as their mother tongue. List of languages by total number of speakers.The rest are life-long learners, just like you.
2. It’s about communication.
Think about it that way. When two strangers meet, their purpose is to communicate a message to one another. So the fact that you have a common language between you is already an immense advantage you should celebrate rather than fear! Most native English speakers I’ve met, do not (unfortunately) speak another language so they are full of admiration and patience for people who do. I have come across situations in which somebody was apologising “I’m sorry, my English isn’t good” to which the other person responded “Don’t worry, it’s so much better than my Polish.” Vast majority of English speakers understand that you are doing your best to communicate in a language which is not your own and appreciate the effort you are making. So, there are no reasons for being embarrassed or stressed, nobody is judging you, really. Just try to do your best. As one of my favourite writers, Maya Angelou, once said “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
3. Read. Listen. Write. Speak. Repeat.
When you are learning English you most probably first see a new word written down. Then, if you are in a class you hear it being pronounced by the teacher. Then you usually write it down and at the end you speak it. Reading and listening are both receptive skills so they come more naturally and are easier to learn. On the other hand, writing and speaking are productive skills, and, as expected, might take longer to master. Think of a baby who is said to be able to understand from birth, but it takes at least two years before he or she starts to talk. Similarly, with language learners our ability to speak progresses with time, provided we get a lot of practice, just as children do. And remember, children are immersed in their mother language all day long, being talked, sung and cuddled to. All these activities have the effect of constantly stimulating the brain. If only we had this type of “course”, we would all be fluent foreign language speakers in no time! Unfortunately, as most of us cannot be “adopted” for two years by a strange English-speaking family, we have to use other methods. So yes, read a new word in English, write in down, make sure you know how to pronounce it and say it loud every time you look at it. It is not enough to just move our eyes over a new word or even lip-read it. We need to speak it out loud, because we need to hear ourselves speaking, we need to stop being embarrassed in front of ourselves. Once we get over being shy to speak to ourselves, we can start talking to others.
4. Make the mirror your best friend
The best way to practice speaking is to speak in front of the mirror. Make it your best friend. Speak to it in English, and it will make you feel confident about the way you are speaking. Every time you are in the bathroom brushing your teeth, washing your hands, or putting on your make-up try to practice. You can start from talking about what you are doing “I’m brushing my teeth. I’m in the bathroom. “Describe the room, the objects in it, what is in front of you, what is behind, etc. In the morning you can talk about what you are planning to do and in the evening what you have done that day. Or you could have post-it notes stuck to your mirror and practice new vocabulary that way. Make sure you look at yourself speaking, look at your lips moving, try to pronounce the words loud and clear.
5. Fit your studying methods to the type of learner you are
We are all different learners and each of us have a unique style of studying and remembering things. Essentially, we differentiate between four basic types of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinaesthetic.
If you are a visual learner, you learn best through what you see and like to visualise the relationships between ideas. Auditory learners prefer to hear the information rather than visualise it. Reading/ writing type of learners learn by studying and interacting with a text. Finally, kinaesthetic learners learn best by doing. Obviously, we do not all fit neatly into just one category, most of us throughout our lives would have used multiple strategies to learn depending on the material and the circumstances. (Learning styles)
But it is important to discover our strengths and use them to our advantage. All too often, in a class situation our teachers rely on limited methods of teaching and many learners feel let down and demotivated as they do not progress at a pace they want. Here are some strategies that both learners and teachers can use depending on which type of learning suits us best.
So, visual learners should study with a lot of visual material, such as pictures, drawings, comics and videos. Many self-study applications use this method as it helps the learner visualise a word or expression and create a memorable connection between an image and what it represents. For example, if you are learning about parts of the body find a portrait that you like or photo of your favourite star and label various parts of the body. Auditory learners remember best when listening to material they are studying. Fortunately, there are so many free resources out there. In most online dictionaries when you look up a word, you can also learn how to pronounce it. Some online dictionaries worth checking Cambridge Dictionary, Oxford Dictionaries, or Merriam-Webster Reading/writing learners who like interacting with a text, follow your favourite news website or a blog on something that you have an interest in, be it fashion, travel or parenting. For kinaesthetic learners who learn best by doing, YouTube is a treasure trove for short videos on any topic. For example, if you are learning about food, follow your favourite chef cooking a recipe. The possibilities are endless.
You can also check our free resources section for some vocabulary exercises. Link---
6. Keep your ears open
English is everywhere and it is so easily accessible. It is in online videos, news channels and radio. Decide what you are interested in and follow a specific channel or radio station. Many channels have podcasts which can be listened to as many times as you like to practice understanding and pronunciation. Hear a song that you really like on the radio on the way to work? Make a note of it and when you have some free time, find a version with lyrics, look up all the unfamiliar words and try singing it. The satisfaction is great when next time you hear it, you actually know what it means! And you will never again be stuck at a karaoke party for something to sing!
7. Do not worry about grammar
Remember, even those who speak English fluently make grammatical mistakes. Many regional accents use what some would call “incorrect” English, as it differs from standard English. To give an example, it is common in Northern Ireland to say “yous” for plural “you”, for instance, in an expression: “What about yous?” (meaning “How are you?”) which is very logical from a communicative point of view, but would be perceived as grammatically incorrect. Or, take another example, usage of possessive pronouns. Although our English language textbooks teach us to say “mine” meaning “belonging to me”, native speakers widely use “my one.”
In general, there are two views on grammatical correctness. Some believe in “prescriptive grammar”, which is a set of rules which are taught so that people will use the language in a particular way. They believe that there is only one “correct” way and many “incorrect” ways of using grammar. In descriptive grammar, however, it is believed that a single language can have multiple dialects, and that each dialect has its own grammatical rules and none is better than the other. Linguistic description
What I wanted to stress is that there are many ways of speaking on the British Isles and elsewhere in the English speaking countries. Too many students get stressed about making grammar mistakes, but in fact it is much more important to focus on the message we want to communicate. When you are a beginner, it is best to use simple structures and tenses and avoid structures you are not confident using yet. For example, if you say “yesterday”, even if you use present tense for the verb you will be understood. Most English speakers from the context will understand whether you are referring to the present or the past.
8. Join a class
There are many applications and websites for learning English online and you have probably already tried some. Many use excellent methods allowing you to learn new vocabulary through visual aids and a revision formula. This method works for some people, but for many there is not enough motivation in learning on your own. They get good results at the start, practice new vocabulary sets every day, but quite often they give up after several weeks. Why? The main reason is that language is about communication and interaction and it is really difficult to have that whilst learning on your own through an app. How about joining a class then? I’m sure that wherever you are you can find a lot of English classes at many levels. But, if you don’t have time to attend classes, why don’t you join an online course? The benefit of learning in an online class is that you study in a group with people who are on the same journey as you. In a class you have an opportunity to practice your language and interact with others. You have a chance to put your skills into practice. If you study on your own, even though you have the option of “study whenever you want”, the truth is, it is very difficult to find time, as in our busy schedule other things always take priority. That is why joining a class is the best option, allowing you to study at set times during the week. In addition, following a structured programme will help you make progress quicker and give you a sense of achievement.
9. Go on holidays to an English-speaking country
In an era of cheap flights, it is easy to find good holiday deals in one of the English speaking countries or popular tourist destinations where English is the commonly used language in hotels, bars and restaurants. Before you go, make sure you practice vocabulary and expressions which will help you communicate in most situations you are going to encounter, such as buying a bus or train ticket, getting a taxi, checking-in at a hotel, or ordering food in a restaurant. Check our vocabulary section for some useful exercises. You could also try enrolling on an intensive course before you go to give you that extra bit of practice so that you feel more confident. After you arrive, try not to get too stressed and do your best to use and practice the English you know. Do not worry too much about grammar, remember we all make mistakes.
10. Practice makes perfect
Nobody has learnt English overnight. The more you practice, the better you become at expressing yourself in English. Use the tips from this article or choose a method which works best for you. The best way is to keep your eyes and ears open all the time and practice whenever you can. If you find a package that has English on it, try translating it into your language. A TV series you like? Watch it first with subtitles in your language and then try English subtitles. Memorise some phrases or scenes you really like. English music is everywhere, you are bound to find something you will enjoy listening to, be it classics or new releases. Listen to your favourite tunes on the way to work or while jogging. Use every spare moment to do a little bit rather than cram a lot of vocabulary or grammar once a week. All these activities will provide opportunities for practice in a fun and enjoyable way. We learn quicker and memorise better when we enjoy ourselves. Most importantly, stay motivated and keep in mind that as a Czech proverb says “You live a new life for every new language you speak.”