If you are currently learning a new language, you might be facing the same old problem: being too shy to speak. Although that’s something that’s entirely natural to feel, you shouldn’t let it stop you from using English. Do you want to know how to overcome shyness and start speaking English?
First of all, let me tell you, I’ve been in your shoes. I’ve lived my whole life in Poland and started learning English a bit later than many of my peers. I was quite a shy kid, which made it more difficult to start speaking. I remember one of my first English conversations. It was on holidays and I said a couple of words to some Americans. It was short, but it made me so proud that I did that!
I know how it is to be afraid to make mistakes. I know that starting to speak a foreign language isn’t easy. Yet I also know that if you don’t use the language, you simply won’t learn it. Besides, you don’t want your effort to go to waste, do you? You learn a language because you want to speak, and that should be enough of a reason to stop being shy.
IT’S REALLY NOT THAT DIFFICULT
Here’s an example. I have an uncle and he’s probably the most incredible person in terms of making a great use of every single foreign word he’s ever learned. My uncle doesn’t speak perfect English yet he’d be able to talk about the most sophisticated topics you could possibly think of. “How?”, you’ll ask. Well, he’s just not shy. He does make mistakes, sometimes even quite funny – like once, when he told our foreign guest to be careful with the sauce because it’s expensive, while he meant it was hot – but he doesn’t care. He just speaks. Every time he gets to talk to foreigners in English, you can see that look of satisfaction on his face. He likes it and I think he also likes his reputation as someone who can do miracles with a limited vocabulary.
More examples? My friend knows just a couple of English words. His girlfriend knows English very well. I had a party and some of my English speaking friends were there, including this friend and his girlfriend. The girl was too afraid to say anything, even though she understood everything and probably had a lot of interesting things to add to the conversation. Her boyfriend, however, used all the words he knew as much as he could. Guess what was my English speaking friends’ impression? They were delighted by my friend’s English skills. See? It is that easy. You don’t have to be perfect. You will eventually, I’m sure of it, but there’s nothing wrong with starting small.
HEY, YOU ALREADY KNOW ONE LANGUAGE, DON’T YOU?
Just think of this: if you’re learning English as a foreigner, it means that you already mastered your native language. This means you speak one language perfectly already. The fact that you’ve started learning English and you want to improve it makes you even more awesome. Even if someone tries to bring you down just because you made a mistake, simply ignore them. I promise that the majority of English speakers you’ll meet will appreciate that you speak their language. And many of them will try to help you out with improving your skills. All you have to do is speak to them.
Believe it or not, the more you use the language, the fewer mistakes you’ll make. You’ll start to catch the mistakes you make and you’ll want to correct them. That’s the case with everything you do – our brain is designed to make things easier and easier, so it will try to simplify the activities you repeat frequently. What does it mean? It means that every English sentence you say makes you more fluent in English. Doesn’t it sound encouraging?
SO… HOW TO START SPEAKING ENGLISH?
How do you overcome shyness and start using English? Well, obviously there are many ways. I started because… I had to. The other person didn’t understand me and I needed something, so the only way to get it was starting to speak English. It was an ice breaker – after that everything went so much easier. It’s actually a good method – if you have an English teacher who’s too lenient, just kindly ask them to speak English only. It will force you to think in English and give explanations in English. Even if you describe something in a very indirect way but they get it, you can call it a success. It doesn’t matter how – what matters is that you speak. Don’t worry about the mistakes, don’t worry about the accent, don’t worry about the fact that your vocabulary is not as rich as you’d like it to be. It will all get better, just be patient and – I’m gonna repeat it once again – SPEAK!
What else can you do to feel more confident with speaking English? Listen to English music, watch English movies with the original sound, speak English to yourself when no one’s listening. Make sure it becomes natural for you to have a contact with the language. It might be difficult at the beginning, but it surely will pay off – you have my word for it!
Have you already dropped that unnecessary fear to make mistakes and started speaking? Brilliant! Now the next step: ask questions. Don’t pretend you understand everything, it doesn’t help you improve your skills. There’s absolutely nothing wrong in making sure there are no misunderstandings between you and your interlocutor. Ask them to explain things you didn’t get, it will help you gain knowledge. Asking questions actually, underlines your sense of understanding a lot better than mindlessly nodding at everything you hear.
Speaking English makes a lot of things significantly easier. It’s helpful when you travel, it’s becoming more and more of a requirement to find a good job and it broadens your horizons. It’s extremely useful, no doubt about it but stressing out doesn’t help one bit, it only destroys your efforts. So relax and speak as well as you can, regardless of the level of your English. Don’t be shy, don’t be afraid. Find pleasure in speaking English and you will search for the occasions to use and improve it yourself. The worst thing you can do to yourself is blocking yourself with all the concerns, so… simply don’t do it!
TAKE THE CHALLENGE AND START USING ENGLISH MORE
Now you know how to overcome shyness, it’s time for you to start using English. Do you like challenges? I have one for you. During the next 7 days, watch an English movie with original sound, try to find someone to have a conversation in English and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Leave a comment describing your experience. I am looking forward to hearing it!