Build Superhuman Confidence in Speaking EnglishDavid Buckley
For most English students one of the most stomach-churning skills to learn is speaking. It’s the physical act where people can witness you using an English skill in action and it can drive many students crazy.
Every English teacher has at least a dozen students who have asked them with a desperate expression on their face: How can I improve my spoken English?
Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast answer. It all comes down to your confidence and your ability to shrug off what you think others might make of your English-speaking skills.
Let me give you a few tips on how to get better. Practice these and you should be speaking English with superhuman strength!
1. Fake it till you make it
This is the first thing you need to do. It’s difficult but if you can pull it off, it will help you no end.
What you have to do is gain fake confidence in your English-speaking ability. Literally, pretend that you are fluent in English and not care whether you are making any mistakes at all.
Try to convince yourself that you can speak English very well and allow yourself to speak with others.
This is hard to do. But if you can do it your confidence in yourself will grow and grow. Eventually, the fake confidence will shift out the way and be replaced by real genuine confidence.
Confidence in your English ability is most of the battle. Do this and you are winning!
2. Mistakes are your best friends
Many students worry about every little mistake they make when speaking English. So much so that many students close their mouths and stop trying to speak at all.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Regard every single mistake as a tiny lesson that is helping you get better day by day.
Learn from them and be happy that your mistakes can help you improve.
There is a very apt phrase that says: Fail forward. What it means is that each time you make a mistake you are going forward a little each time. Remember this and stop letting mistakes hold you back.
You must relax when speaking English. Don’t let your shoulders tense up around your neck. How can you speak properly if you are not relaxed?
Key things to remember when trying to relax are taking deep breaths, smiling, taking your time and not putting yourself under too much pressure to improve.
Smiling and breathing are paramount. Always have a big smile on your face when speaking English with someone. Smiling gives us natural confidence and helps us to relax. It’s simple and people will respond to you with more friendliness if you are smiling.
And don’t forget to take deep breaths as they can really help you relax. Each time you pause to say something new, fill your lungs with air and it will instantly make you feel more at ease.
4. Practice alone
When you are alone, you can still practice speaking. Use a mirror to speak English. Observe yourself as you speak English, become accustomed to the sight and sound of yourself as you speak English.
It will no longer feel alien or strange to you when you speak English with other people.
You can also read out loud. Take any reading exercise that you have to do for homework and instead of reading inside your head, open your mouth and read out loud. This is another way for you to make speaking English feel like a perfectly normal thing to do.
And practice speaking by watching your favourite movies. Take a short five-minute scene and watch it over and over with English subtitles on. Then try reciting the lines the actors say in English by yourself.
This is a great way to practice pronunciation and intonation too.
Everyone loves watching movies so give this a try. It works even better if you do this with some friends.
5. Make friends with English speakers
This may be very hard to do — especially if you are nowhere near any English-speaking people.
But if you do know someone from an English-speaking country try to make a friend of them. As you spend time together, you will learn to speak English just by being in their company.
You could also offer classes in your own native language — this is called Language Exchange. You spend two hours together, first talking in your language and then in English.
Everyone gains something from it.
6. Make an English-only group
Finally, you could gather together in an ‘English Only’ group. Select a few friends from your English class and meet somewhere and only speak English.
You could choose relevant topics to talk about and then you try to have a conversation using only English.
You will find that some of your friends will know certain vocabulary that you do not, and you will know vocabulary that your friends also do not. Thus you can all help each other. Plus, it could be good fun.
Yes, it is very difficult to get past the barrier of gaining confidence in speaking English. But you have to truly believe in yourself.
That is the one thing that is holding most English students back. They simply think they cannot do it.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Force yourself to believe that you can speak English and that you are getting better each and every day.
Practice the ideas above and you will find that your English-speaking skills will get better and better.