It’s the dread of many English second language students out there studying English. You’re fine when you’re talking to yourself, you can read and write alright, and understanding the fast-talking people on TV can be tough sometimes but all in all you don’t think your English is too bad. That is, until your teacher turns to you in class asking you to give examples of the grammar structures they’ve been teaching this week, and you freeze up and start to mumble, too afraid to make a mistake. Or when you are at a restaurant and you feel the need to practice your order 10 times in your head, putting the perfect phrases together before saying anything that might sound dumb. And now, you’re asking yourself, “how do I learn to speak English confidently in public?”
Don’t worry, learning a new language can be intimidating, and this fear is experienced by many foreign language learners all over the globe. It starts when you’ve gathered just enough vocabulary to start putting sentences together, but if you don’t make it over this hurdle, you’ll continue to face this problem for years throughout your language learning journey.
Here are some tips for how to speak English confidently in public.
Choose your friends wisely
First things first, you should be trying to surround yourself with fluent English speakers. Doing this will force you to speak English when you are around them, giving you more practice and allowing you to get through all your big mistakes quickly and with people you trust rather than in a job interview or an important meeting.
However, not every English language speaker is equal. When learning how to speak English confidently in public, your best option for native speakers, are those who are learning, or have learnt another language themselves. If you can make friends with someone who has taken the time to learn a language other than English, you can nearly guarantee that they will be more understanding and empathetic to your situation given that it’s likely they have experience this fear too. These friends are more nurturing and are less likely to make mistakes you made into a big deal.
It doesn’t matter what language they speak, but it’s a plus if they are learning your language, as this can also help bridge the language barrier and you can talk about a lot more.
Realise that people don’t care if you make a mistake
Making mistakes is a part of life. It can be scary or embarrassing to do something out of your comfort zone because you don’t want to come off as rude, say something incorrect, or say something and have nobody in the room understand you. The reality is that most of those people are just as worried as you about making a fool of themselves as you are about making a fool of yourself. This means that there is less attention on you than you think there is! To prove this, try to think of the last time that someone in your class made a mistake when speaking. You can’t, can you? Therefore, it’s safe to say that nobody remembers your mistakes either.
Fake it till you make it!
This is a famous English quote that basically means, if you are pursuing a goal of any kind and you want to get there faster, pretend that you have already reached that goal, until you reach it in real life. Seeing yourself as a fluent speaker can help you speak English confidently in public because it means that you stop fearing the mistakes. After all, why would a fluent English speaker make a mistake? Carrying this attitude can mean that you get into more situations where you need to speak and slowly over time, your fake confidence will become real, and you’ll no longer need to fake it
Just keep going
Even when the going gets tough, never stop learning. Keep going to classes and don’t hide in your room all day. Woody Allen said 90% of success is showing up, so if you keep showing up you’ll make it. The most successful language learners are steady they make tons of mistakes, but they just keep trying. They look at their goal as a long-term challenge. If you’re steady and consistent, eventually you’ll succeed.