How to speak English confidently
For the majority of non-native English speakers, the hardest thing to do is to speak with confidence. Don’t despair, follow our tips to speak English confidently and all will be well.
Why is it that many people find they can speak a language properly when they have one too many drinks, yet mumble they can’t speak English the next day? It’s because their inhibitions don’t factor in the conversation and, therefore, they can fluently speak in a foreign language.
Speaking a different language than your own is hard. It seems to be easier for children. Not least because, as an adult, you have a social fear that you probably didn’t have when you were young. We feel like everyone we are in conversation with is there to criticise us and we end up focusing more on the judgement of others rather than our sentence structure and vocabulary. And so our speech ends up in slurs and easily avoided mistakes. If that sounds like you, you don’t have to crawl under a rock anymore! There are things you can do to speak in English, or any other foreign language, with confidence.
Here’s what you can do:
Find a conversation group
Find a conversation group whose aim is to encourage native speakers to meet English learners for casual conversations. Stress-free environments help you practice your speaking skills with an interlocutor already keen to help you get on the right track. Do not hesitate to ask people to correct you if you want to improve your English! People won’t do it unless you encourage them. Where can you meet these groups? Try Meetup.com. A great group for internationals is Wee Venture MeetUp.
If you find that speaking to strangers is too stressful, you can get private lessons or a private tutor to help you practise your speaking abilities. Make sure to take a class that focuses on your needs. There’s no point in finding a class that won’t challenge you. It can be hard to find a course that is tailored to your level of English and your needs, but there are some available. Try a mini-group course or private lessons.
The quickest and most efficient way to overcome your fear of speaking in public is by immersion. Engaging yourself in the language you’re trying to master will force you to get out of your shell as ‘you won’t have any choice but to get by’.
Moving to Edinburgh as a native French speaker was the best move I ever made to help me master the English language. Terrifying yet exhilarating, immersing yourself makes you bolder and less scared to be judged by people you don’t know and might never meet again. I used to have cold sweats during my English classes back home as I knew my fellow classmates would be the most ruthless critics and I would have to meet their eyes after every oral presentation. I did not speak English confidently in the slightest.
Surround yourself with locals or foreigners that don’t share your native language and you’ll be forced to try and communicate. Get out of your comfort zone! Some ideas are to volunteer or join a fun community class (e.g. art, sport or cooking).
No matter the situation, it is hard to come out of your shell, but truth be told: no one has the right to judge any foreigner who’s trying their hardest to speak a different language (English-speakers least of all, as it seems few try to do it themselves!). Be proud of what you’ve achieved and never forget that it takes courage to speak a different language!
Written by Judith Bellemare, Venture English