How to Become a More Confident English Speaker (AJ #9)

Speak English Fluently and more confidently

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In episode nine of Ask Jack, I answer one question. Just one.

I normally answer three, but as this topic is so important, I wanted to focus on this one question only.

Below the video, there is a transcript from this episode, and a summary of my answer.

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Transcript

Hello. This is Jack from ToFluency.com and welcome to Episode 9 of Ask Jack, the free series where I answer your questions about learning English and the English language. Now, normally I answer 3 questions in an episode but today I’m just going to answer one and here is the question.
Dhansri from India asks, “I’m scared when I speak English. What should I do?”

Thank you for your question Dhansri and for everyone else who sent in this or a similar question. The first thing I want to say about this is that if the fear of speaking English is stopping you from speaking, then you need to do something about this. This is because in order to progress, in order to reach the level you want to reach you’re going to need to practice speaking. So, for the rest of the video, I’m going to talk about how you can overcome this fear.

Firstly, it’s wise to think about whether you have a fear of speaking English or whether you have a fear of speaking in general. For example, when I’m with friends I’m very comfortable and obviously I’m a native speaker and when I speak English with my friends I feel completely relaxed in these situations. But, sometimes when I’m giving a presentation or I’m speaking to people I don’t know or in front of large crowds and sometimes when I’m tired too, I’m a little bit more shy and sometimes there are things that I want to say in these situations but I don’t just because it’s a different type of situation.

So, think about situations in your native language where you’re scared of speaking or you’re shy about speaking and doing this will help you bring awareness to your situation and know whether it’s a specific English problem or if it’s more a general speaking problem and this confidence about speaking in certain situations.

Now, I know that a lot of learners are embarrassed about their level, that they are embarrassed about making mistakes. The thing to know here is that native speakers, native English speakers are used to hearing non-native speakers talk all the time, we’re used to hearing different accents and learners making mistakes. This is because we, English is obviously the language that the world wants to learn and because of that we’re in situations when we travel where people are speaking English. It’s the international business language. It’s the international language of travel and other things too. So, we’re constantly hearing people make mistakes in English and we’re used to this. We’re used to talking to non-native speakers. And, therefore, when we hear a mistake it doesn’t sound strange. It just seems normal to us. And, as long as you can get your point across and as long as you, you know, speak to someone and you can actually have that person understand what you’re saying, in the general scheme of things it doesn’t really matter if you make mistakes. Now, obviously, we want to limit the mistakes we make but don’t let that put you off speaking.

A good way to build your confidence with speaking is to start with someone on a one-to-one basis, someone that you feel really comfortable with. This might be a teacher. It might be a friend or a language exchange partner but finding someone that you feel comfortable with and speaking this one-to-one basis is going to give you the practice you need. But, additionally, it’s going to help you build your confidence. It’s going to help you just get used to speaking English so that when you’re in different situations, it won’t feel that strange when you’re actually using your English. So, find someone first who you can work with on a one-to-one basis and this will help you build your confidence.

If you have had bad experiences in the past, for example, if someone has laughed at you or if someone has made fun of your level then this can stop you from speaking because it obviously doesn’t do anything good for your confidence. Now, in the future, if you find yourself in this situation, okay, there are 2 things, I think you can do. The first one is, if they’re just laughing at a mistake that you made and it’s funny because of the context then ask them why it’s funny because you’re going to learn from that mistake and maybe you can laugh with this person too. But, if you have a situation where someone is being mean, someone is laughing at you in a mean way or making fun of your level then this person isn’t worth talking to. This person isn’t worth your time. So, simply go away from the conversation and find someone else to talk to.

The last thing I want to say about this topic is that as you improve your level, you’re going to gain confidence to speak because having a high level means that you can express yourself. It means that you can handle different situations and this is going to give you confidence. So, obviously, work on your English, improve your English and do the things that are going to make a difference and focus on this process, you know, focus on the actual learning part of English and the ‘what you do on a day to day basis’. And, just to go back to what I said before, speak with someone who is going to give you confidence. Then, you can take things from there.

What I want you to do now is firstly, in the comments section let me know if you are scared when you speak in English. Are you shy when you speak in English? Share your experiences. And, the second thing is if you have overcome this fear or if you are confident about speaking in English, share your tips, share your experiences in the comments section below. I really want to hear from you about this. So, thank you for watching and I’ll see you next time.

Question: I’m scared of speaking in English. What should I do?

Thank you to Dhansri and to everyone else who asked this question.

The first thing to know is that in order to make progress, you will need to speak more. And to speak more, you will have to become more confident and not be so scared of having conversations in English.

The first thing to think about is whether you’re scared about speaking in English or about speaking in general. I am a native speaker, but there are times when I feel shy about speaking – for example, when I’m with people I don’t know.

Therefore, think about times when you are nervous about speaking in your own language. This will help bring awareness to your situation.

It’s important to know that native speakers are used to hearing non-native speakers talk. And therefore, we’re used to hearing mistakes. If you are worried about making mistakes, then know that people aren’t going to judge you (generally speaking). We’re amazed when someone can speak in English. Those mistakes don’t bother us and your goal should be to get your thoughts across. If you make mistakes, learn from them. But don’t stop your fear of mistakes from stopping you speak.

To build your confidence, I recommend working with someone on a one-to-one basis. This helps you feel more comfortable if you’re not used to speaking. This could be a teacher (recommended), a friend, or anyone who you can speak with. This will help you build your confidence and help you when you have conversations with others.

If you have had a bad situation in the past, then this might affect you. For example, someone might have laughed at you when you said something. There are two things you can do: ask what is funny and you can learn something (and maybe laugh with them). Or if they are being mean, leave the conversation. This person is not worth your time.

What to Do Now:

1. Leave a comment below: Do you get nervous when speaking English? What tips do you have for others?
2.
 If you haven’t done so already, download your FREE Guide, and sign up to receive English learning advice from me. Get reading!
3. Click here to ask me a question about learning English.

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  • Luis Campos

    Hey Jack. Thanks for one more great video! Actually I make a lot of mistakes all the time. I think it’s normal. I’m learning english because I have a goal do move to Europe and work there. Now I live in Brazil. I sent my cv to some companies and i had some Job Interviews, but my English doesn’t work under the pressure of a job interview. I had 3 interviews, all of them terrible. Now a stoped de answer the companies because I lost my confidence in English.

    • Aida KG

      keep trying . you can do it

    • Thank you for sharing, Luis. You haven’t failed so don’t lose your confidence. Instead, practice more job interviews, watch example job interviews on YouTube, and stay consistent with your English. You’ll keep progressing and reach your goal if you stick with it.

    • Alina Ionescu

      Luis, I was in your shoes as well. Improve your English is the way you can pass all your failures! I was in your shoes! I failed on telephone job interview and this is why I am so motivated now! I hope Jack method will help me.

  • What to do when you are scared of speaking in English :
    1) speak more like chatting with friends
    2) ignore errors – it is normal to make mistakes
    3) ask for help – find other resources to empower your communicative skills

    • Fantastic advice, Mollie. Thank you for sharing!

  • Aida KG

    thank you so much for the video ,

    • You’re welcome! I’m glad you like it.

  • Baji

    Thanks Jack for this amazing video. I am 100% sure this little tips will make huge difference speakers like Dhanrsi.

    In my opinion,

    Making mistakes shows the path to improve ourselves. We should not worry about the mistakes, instead should figure out the reasons. This was we will limit to commit those again.

    • You are very welcome. Thank you for your comment, Baji. I agree completely about what you said about making mistakes.

  • Nafa

    I’m scared sometimes, but I can’t say precise reasons… Maybe because of being look like awful English speaker or being understood wrong… But in general, I’m not scared, maybe a little bit shy only)

  • Hermes Padilla

    Thanks you Jack, now I feel more comfortable and I believe that I might become in an amazing speaker.

    • You’re welcome. Thanks for you comment, Hermes.