In this topic I’ll talk about how you can overcome your fear of speaking English!
The biggest problem and obstacle every learner of English has to overcome when it comes to English is by far “Speaking”! There are others obstacles and winding paths that every learner of English has to get over and I could spend long hours or an entire post describing one by one, but trust me, the ability of “Speaking” is the main barrier to be beaten for most learners.
Why do people shake with fear of speaking? Why don’t they get out and start speaking? Maybe for fear of making mistakes?
Let’s think of it for a while, it may sound weird, but if you are learning a new language, why are you afraid of speaking? Language is supposed to be spoken, isn’t it? If you really want to learn a language you have to speak and try to find the great environment to do it and engage with native or non-native speakers of English.
In my early stages of learning English, I used to shake in my shoes just for fear of making mistakes and not being able to express myself properly as much as I wanted to, as I was studying and improving my English the fear of speaking kept vanishing little by little, however, I have to be honest here and admit that there is a trace of fear, but just when I have to speak with native speakers of English.
Have you ever stopped to think why you have fear of speaking? Why does it happen? Where does this fear come from? Let’s try to figure out why it happens, since I’m also a learner of English and I’ve been studying for nearly three years now and I’ve been through a lot, I have definitely felt my share of fear.
Here are the most common problems:
1- Embarrassment: To be embarrassed or ashamed is by far the champion. People get embarrassed because of their accent, poor pronunciation and because they don’t know how to build elaborate sentences or in most cases because they are afraid to be the butt of a joke in front of others, but I can tell you, no one will laugh at you, so far, it has never happened to me.
2- Mistakes: The fear of speaking also comes from a fear of making mistakes. Most of the time it happens because people get anxious and in that case they instantly lose their ability or capability to speak comfortably, in some cases, people’s brains get overanxious and their speaking performance drops off substantially, it has been proved that high levels of anxiety can hold you back, in the worst case scenario they stop and get stuck completely!
3- Vocabulary: Lack of vocabulary is also one of the reasons people are afraid of speaking English and they get discouraged to start a conversation. If you are waiting to achieve a great level of vocabulary to start to speak English you will end up waiting for years and it will never come to an end.
4- Confidence: You don’t feel self-confident enough to engage in a conversation because your fear is bigger than your confidence plus the three items cited above. Lack of confidence in some cases turns out into negative thoughts that will break you apart.
How to lose the fear of speaking English? How to overcome your fear?
Be aware that “fear” is a good sign, it’s a mechanism of protection and survival of your body preparing it to a specific dangerous situation or even a strong emotion linked with your higher levels of anxiety, when you feel fear, your body is getting ready for a big action that may happen. The first thing you have to do is to learn how to deal with your “fear”, you shouldn’t let it control you completely, on the other hand, you are the only one who have to take control of your body, if you learn how to control your fear and its physiological reactions, for sure, you will be able to think clearly without any level of hesitation and being capable of performing well and speaking well enough.
Another aspect that you have to take into account is to admit that you have fear of speaking and learn how to deal with it, as soon as you admit to yourself your own fear, getting rid of it is just a matter of time, in my opinion the only way to overcome your fear of speaking is to seek or engage every opportunity to speak English, essentially with a native speaker.
You’ve probably already heard that “Practice makes perfect”. Don’t hesitate! If you get an invite from your friend or whoever to speak English, don’t throw this chance away and grab this opportunity to start to get over your fear.
Before you engage in a conversation, take a deep breath, control your emotions and fear, I can guarantee that “the fear of speaking” is a gigantic imaginary monster that you have created on your own and since there is no such thing it can’t let you down! As you get into in a conversation and if you are not still confident, you can let the other person know that you are too shy to speak and ask them if they can help you out, the “key” here is to admit your limits, to be your own and not pretend to be something you’re not, if the other person is polite and wants to help you, accept any kind of criticism and learn from any suggestion that they may give you.
Some steps will help you to build your confidence before getting into a real conversation if you still don’t feel like doing it.
1- Put away your fears and practice speaking with yourself as much as you can, practice recording your voice or making videos, speaking in front of the mirror or while taking a shower, using English on a daily basis makes the language a habit, the confidence comes with practice!
2- If you don’t have a large vocabulary yet, take advantage of the powerful method of “narrow-reading”, which means that you will read and study all about the subject you have to speak of.
3- Picture yourself as a successful English speaker; visualize yourself being smooth and confident when speaking! As soon as you start picturing yourself as a fluent speaker of English, you will dominate your fear, not opening up any possible gap to negative thoughts.
4- Make a vision board and fill it out describing the person you want to be, like: I’m confident! I’m successful! I can talk with native speakers of English! I’m an experienced learner of English and put whatever you want to achieve towards your goal and look at your vision board every day! It will help you to build your self-esteem and confidence.
I know that it’s easier said than done, but keep yourself motivated and ally with your willpower; the “motivation” and the “willpower” are both strong warriors that will put your fear down! I can assure you that as you go ahead with yours studies and as the time goes by “the fear” of speaking English will disappear completely and you will “shoot the breeze”!