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5 Ways to Become a More Confident English Speaker

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Mon, Sep 24, 2012 @ 07:37 AM

confident English speaker Boston, girl jumpingAre you a confident English speaker?

Have you ever sat in a restaurant or stood in a group at a party and felt paralyzed and unable to speak because you were afraid of slowing down the conversation or being laughed at?

Of course you have! Everyone has.

This is what language learning is all about!

But this feeling can can cause us to get discouraged and give up.

Please don't give up!

In today's article, I will give you five suggestions for how to become a more confident English speaker. Ready? Keep reading!


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1) Stop worrying about "slowing down" the conversation


worried English learner

It is easy to feel intimidated when you are in a large group of native speakers and you are the only one who isn't totally sure what's going on.

You don't want them to feel like they have to stop and explain everything to you.

This is the way that everyone feels when they learn a new language.

Sometimes learning English can be lonely. Sometimes we even lose the identity that we have created as speakers of our native language.

But what you absolutely cannot do is put your own goals last to avoid inconveniencing other people.

The truth is, most people are more patient than you think. And for those who are really annoyed that you are slowing down the conversation, they probably won't stick around and talk with you. Fine. Let them walk away.

Try to keep the conversation going and stop thinking that you are annoying people or slowing down their conversation.



2) Keep showing up


 be steadyWoody Allen said 90% of success is showing up.

I think Woody Allen made an important point here.

Those who are most successful keep trying.

They are steady.

They continue attending classes and keep speaking even when they make mistakes. They are like the tortoise, not the hare.

They don't hide from their feelings of discomfort. They harness their fear and make use of it as positive energy.  Your goal is to become comfortable with discomfort.

Get laughed at many, many times until you just don't care anymore.

Try to be consistent in your English learning efforts and I know you will start to develop confidence.



3) Speak with both small and large groups of people


small group, practice EnglishMost English learners say that it is easier to understand and keep up with a conversation when they are in a one-on-one situation.

It is great to build your English skills by speaking with people individually but you should also try to involve yourself in large-group conversations if possible.

If you get in a conversation with 4 or 5 people, start by just trying to get the idea of what they are saying. Later you can join in if you feel more confident.

The key is to practice in as many different contexts and situations as you can.



4) Practice your listening in your spare time


 practice your listeningDaily listening practice is an important way to build your fluency.

Set a goal for yourself.

Three times each day, do a conscious listening exercise.

To do this, you can ask your English tutor for some material.

You can also watch a sitcom like Friends or watch the news or do a listening exercise in a park or on a subway. You can also try online listening exercises like Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab

Do your best to understand the basic idea of what is being said and don't worry about every little detail.

If you do this every day, you will feel more confident and less overwhelmed when you are in a real communication setting like a party or networking event.



5) Hang around with experienced language learners


more confident English speaker

It's important to hang out with native English speakers when you are trying to improve your English.

However, be selective about which native speakers you hang out with.

Choose native English speaking friends who have learned other languages and who have traveled around the world a bit.

It doesn't really matter which languages they have learned. The point is, they have felt what you are feeling.

They will have empathy for you because they have struggled with the same feelings of discomfort. They will keep you motivated and will inspire you.


The next time you are in an English-speaking situation where you feel the need to run in the corner and hide or just to be quiet because you are afraid of what people will think, stop right there and remember these points!

You have a goal. Your goal matters more than any temporary feelings of embarrassment. Keep moving forward! Good luck.


Speak English with Confidence NOW




Photo credits: Official GDC,    Robert Bouza, William Brawley,   mikebaird,   englishpen

Topics: Advice for English Students, How to Learn English

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