They say that practice makes perfect. Nowhere is this more pertinent than when learning to speak a new language. But one of many people’s greatest stumbling blocks to achieving fluency in English is their fear of failure.
Fear of failure has stopped many a great project in its tracks, business from being created or marriage vows exchanged. Yet, just as Honoré de Balzac famously said, our greatest fears lie in anticipation. So if getting choked up and tongue-tied is getting in your way, check out these tips to help overcome your fear of speaking English.
1. It’s Never as Bad as You Imagine
How many times did you worry about giving a presentation, taking an exam, or meeting your in-laws for the first time? People deal with these kind of stresses in different ways. But if you’re prone to sleepless nights, palpitations or panic attacks, it’s time to appeal to the logical side of your brain and relax. It’s never as bad as you think it will be.
You know those people who stand up in front of the cameras, give conferences and speak confidently in another language? Here’s a little secret for you. They all experience fear of failing at some point or another (maybe even all the time). No one was born speaking any language, much less fluent in more than one.
If you’re learning English as a young adult, or even later in life, then remember you’re not the only one. Fear of speaking is normal. It’s how you overcome that fear that will transform you from an English language learner to an English language speaker.
2. Everyone Makes Mistakes… And Mistakes Are Useful!
No one likes making mistakes. Whether you’re terrified of getting your pronunciation wrong, or worried about when to use the present perfect; remember that making mistakes is inevitable. It’s natural and the best way to learn. Whatever your native language, you’ve probably heard your own people speaking it incorrectly or stumbling over spelling.
Well I can guarantee that there are enough native English speakers to populate a small country who misuse and badly pronounce the English language. The very fact that you’re studying English grammar gives you an advantage over many natives who often receive a poor explanation of this in school.
There are many stages towards achieving language fluency and your goal at first shouldn’t be annunciating more articulately than the Queen of England. Your first goal should be to be understood. Embrace your mistakes, learn from them and get better along the way.
3. Practice Every Moment Possible
I already said that practice makes perfect and you probably heard your mother saying it too. That’s because the only way to master any skill, from your diphthongs to your phrasal verbs is by practicing them regularly. The more often you speak English and get used to speaking English, the easier and more natural it will become.
If you’re not lucky enough to study English in an English speaking country, you can make use of English language radio, podcasts and television. Try to find an English speaker in your home town or city. If there isn’t anyone to practice with locally, then read, write, or find people online who want to trade.
There’s plenty of English speakers trying to learn Spanish, German, Tagalog. Practicing daily with someone you trust and aren’t afraid to make mistakes in front of will do wonders for your confidence.
4. Learn to Laugh at Yourself
Approaching your English language learning journey with humor is vital to your success. Sharing a joke is a great way of breaking the ice, and if you can learn to accept making mistakes and laugh yourself, you’ll realize that speaking English can be fun.
Let’s be honest, approach anything in life with a little bit of humor and it’s suddenly a much more enjoyable task. From housework to studying for exams; learn to laugh at yourself and not only will you become a better student, but you’ll be more likeable, approachable and encourage further conversation.
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