1. Overcome Your Fear
Learning English is very similar to learning anything else like guitar, juggling, basketball, etc. But because we relate it to our first language, which we already speak fluently, we feel silly when we can’t speak competently.
However, the most fluent English speakers think of language learning like acquiring any other new skill. And just like learning anything else, the more you practice, the better you get!
The way you practice your English is by using it. It’s not enough to go to class two or three times per week. If you want to overcome your fear of making mistakes and get fluent, then you have to start speaking as soon as possible. And I promise if you start speaking regularly, you will notice yourself growing more and more confident in your abilities and improving.
Start practicing your English as much as possible.
2.I’m scared people will laugh
Many learners have a fear that goes beyond just making mistakes: That someone will laugh at their errors in the language.
If you are one of them, perhaps you developed this fear because of insecurities developed in school. It’s common that when we are young our fellow students will laugh at us either because A) We speak English well (in many cultures it’s not ‘cool’ to be smart when you are young), OR the opposite, B) Because we speak incorrectly and others laugh because we are ‘stupid’. This usually sticks with us even beyond school.
However, these insecurities are irrational. We’ve learned that making mistakes is an important part of a process. They in no way reflect your intelligence.
AND this is a good problem. Why? Because it means you have a HUGE opportunity.
Overcoming these insecurities will benefit you in every aspect of your life, beyond just speaking English fluently. So if this is you, then it’s time to realize that it is in your hands to change.
It is not important if someone laughs. Realize that it’s not about you. You are doing something AMAZING just by speaking a foreign language!
When people laugh at others, they are just projecting their own insecurities, for example, an inability to speak another language well themselves. They put you down by laughing at you because they are scared they will never speak another language as well as you.
Plus, if someone laughs at you when you speak, this probably is not the type of person you want to be speaking to anyway.
The more you speak and make mistakes, the less it will matter to you. You’ll have more fun with the language and learn to laugh at yourself.
3.Cultivating a deep motivation
Before even practicing, you first must build a strong desire to gain fluency. - know that mistakes are the map and a passion to learn is the compass pointing them towards fluency.
Your desire to learn must become stronger than fear of potential embarrassment. Then you’ll be able to speak without problems, even when you’re making lots of mistakes.
And once you start speaking regularly, you’ll be unstoppable. Through your experience you will realize how insignificant mistakes really are. You’ll see that you have spent so much time scared, worrying about nothing. And with this realization you’ll feel a weight lifted off of your shoulders as you confidently move forward on your path to fluency.
4.Celebrate small wins
Small victories like this can help break anxiety and build confidence. And if you’ve never spoken English before, it doesn’t have to be something as big as what my student did. It can be something small, like asking for the time or the price of something, or giving a tourist directions or recommendations. If these aren’t possible in your city, start by speaking online.
5.Don’t depend on texting
Something else I want to warn about is text chatting . It is ok for practicing your writing and using new vocabulary. However, many learners use it as an excuse not to speak. They say, “First I need to practice more on chat,” but this is a trap. You’re just letting fear and resistance trick you into avoiding speaking face-to-face.
Don’t be tricked.
Fluent English speakers know that fluency comes from speaking, not from chatting, and thus, as soon as they can, they move from text chat to video chat.
Even if you’re scared, you need to realize that text chat does not help you to overcome anxiety and build confidence in the same way speaking face-to-face does.
6.Speak English Confidently and Fluently
Learning another language is difficult. However, as we’ve seen, you can be proud of all of your hard work and speak confidently. You don’t need to be shy and quiet. You don’t need to be scared of people laughing at you.
Confidence is a choice we make. This doesn’t mean it’s always easy and that we never get nervous or anxious.
Start taking small steps to be the fluent, confident English speaker that you want to be (Learn more in this video), and celebrate every small victory.