4 Tips for speaking English with confidence

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on January 31, 2022
friends talking

Learning a second language isn’t an easy process. Even though learning a new language helps improve brain function, taking on this challenge as an adult can be especially difficult. This is because of societal pressure or stigma against those who cannot speak a language fluently. Adults may also overthink and overanalyze new language rules. So, as an English language learner (ELL), what can you do to gain confidence when speaking in English?

1. Build up your vocabulary

One of the main reasons you may lack confidence when speaking English might be because your vocabulary is limited.

You can learn more sentences by reading books in English and memorizing phrases in front of a mirror. You can also watch English TV shows and try to write down common phrases, sayings, and exclamations.

2. Take English as a Second Language (ESL) classes

Not everyone has the resources and determination to learn a new language on their own. Sometimes, people need the help of someone skilled and patient enough to teach them. There are many free ESL programs and classes offered for newcomers in community centres, school boards, public libraries, and post-secondary school institutions. Once enrolled, you will be able to get guided help from a teacher or tutor and learn alongside other ELLs.

3. Practise with trustworthy English speakers

If you are still afraid of making a mistake in English or being made fun of, you can practise speaking the language with only one or two people first. They should be people who are fluent in the language and willing to correct you if you make grammatical errors.

message about mistakes

While you may feel more comfortable speaking English with someone who has the same level of English proficiency as you, you will benefit more from hearing someone speaking the language properly and correcting your mistakes.

You shouldn’t feel self-conscious in any way around the people you practise speaking English with, so choose a conversation partner you trust.

4. Immerse yourself!

Once you have developed your vocabulary, taken ESL classes, and practised speaking with a few trustworthy people, you can start speaking English with people outside of your small learning bubble.

friends talking

You can practise speaking with restaurant servers, grocery store clerks, security guards, librarians, people walking their dogs, and anyone you think looks friendly. You can also speak to people at networking events and other socializing events, such as a birthday party or wedding.

As your proficiency improves, so will your confidence, and you will find that people won’t judge you when you make mistakes, after all learning a new language is impressive, no matter your skill level.  

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