Did you know that aside from the fear of heights, spiders, and the dark, public speaking ranks as one of the most feared experiences among humans? And having to do it in your second language – English, can make the experience even more nerve-wracking.
With schools just about to reopen soon, expect to make use of your speaking skills more. From communicating with your classmates and teachers, as well as presenting in front of the class – speaking in English will always be part of learning the language.
Whether you feel that your speaking skills have gone rusty over the last couple of weeks, or you want to overcome your fear when talking in English, we have some tips to help you talk to others with confidence.
Understand your fear
We all have fears, but to help us overcome those fears, we need to acknowledge it and understand where it’s coming from.
When it comes to speaking in English, the most common fear among ESL learners is committing errors. Because speaking is mostly a spontaneous process, a lot of us become scared of committing mistakes in the process. Mistakes could be in the grammatical sense, vocabulary, or pronunciation. We are afraid to be judged wrongly or perceived to be less competent.
But understanding the cause of our fear of speaking can help us address and overcome it eventually.
Address problematic areas
Now that you know what you are afraid of, it’s time to get to work.
If you’re feeling unsure of your grammar, vocabulary, or pronunciation, there are several ways to help you improve your speaking skills. Read books, magazines, and blogs on topics that you enjoy to build vocabulary. You can also watch English TV series, movies, or listen to English podcasts and audiobooks to help you with pronunciation.
Don’t forget your listening skills
Your speaking skills are not isolated in a vacuum, but rather it is part of the communication process that also involves listening. Being a confident and competent speaker would also mean that your listening skills are fine-tuned, as well.
Aside from listening to audiobooks and podcasts, you can also try to strike up casual conversations with friends to help you get used to the pronunciations of the words and different accents, too.
Not feeling very confident about speaking in English? One way to help you overcome your trepidations is to smile. Yes, a simple smile can help you a lot.
Smiling as you speak in the conversation can make people warm up to you. It will also make you feel less self-conscious. Ever heard of the phrase, “Fake it till you make it”? Appearing confident can make us feel more confident.
Find opportunities to practice
It may feel natural to shy away from activities that would force us to talk, but one sure way to help you overcome your fear of speaking in English is to make use of the language.
Speaking is just like any skill, similar to riding a bike. You don’t expect to be good at riding a bike without even getting on one, right? The same thing goes for speaking.
So go ahead, find opportunities for you to speak in English – whether it’s greeting your neighbour or having a small talk with the delivery guy, all these would help you hone your English-speaking skills.
There you have it, our five tips to help you be a more confident English speaker. Remember that being a good speaker takes some time and practice but it can be done! Check out our other blog posts for more tips on learning and improving your English skills.