As a non-native speaker of English myself, I’m familiar with the English speaking anxiety that many of us go through in our effort to communicate in the English language.
Can I speak properly at all? Maybe my tense isn’t good enough. What is the next mistake I’m about to make? Who is going to begin laughing at my pronunciation first? I don’t think I can get the right words to say what I want to say.
The above are just a few of the inner battles many of us go through on a daily basis.
We experience the English speaking anxiety as we try to use English in the following contexts:
- with our friends, at meetings,
- at social gatherings,
- at important interviews or
- in the classroom.
Well, the good news is that there are ways to overcome your English speaking anxiety. Here is the satisfying result:
Next time you have to speak English, you can do so without developing a headache.
Below are the approaches I have personally adopted to combat my English speaking anxiety. I trust that they will help you too. Because they have helped others I tried them with to speak English fluently and with confidence.
1.Nobody is perfect.
Always keep that in the back of your mind.
It is true.
Too many people get busy at finding fault with the things others do. Funnily enough, they extend this unhelpful behaviour to the realm of the use of foreign languages, including English.
Fortunately, it is also true that such people have more serious issues with the language than you think. That’s why they are afraid to speak in public, but at the same time enjoy pointing to the mistakes of others.
My advice is this, ignore them. Anytime you speak English, lock out of your mind the erroneous idea that others are so good that you can only be the worst. They’re not, and you’re not.
Do not wait to be perfect before you express yourself because that time will never come.
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2. Get simple
I love the simple lifestyle and I apply it as a means to fighting any English speaking anxiety I may experience.
We use English, just as we use our mother tongue, to communicate our thoughts and ideas. That’s the primary purpose of any human language.So please, learn to speak English to convey your ideas, not to impress anybody.
In my home country, we have what we call big words. There are some who think that the more big words you use in your speech or writing the greater your mastery of the language. This is totally false.
You don’t need strange, complicated words even many native speakers have never used before to make your thoughts known to whomever you’re speaking with. Just speak is and was, as Chinua Achebe puts it in his novel, No Longer at Ease, and believe you me, you’ll be just fine.
3. Learn the proper use of basic tense forms.
This will give you the needed confidence to speak without going through the painful English speaking anxiety.
Take note of this basic fact about language usage: English, like any other language, is built around verbs in just a few different forms.
Therefore, you must devote enough time to studying and practicing when to say the different forms of the most common English verbs.
For instance, learn when to use these and when not to use them:
will or would; have, has, having or had; do, does, did,doing or done; come,coming or came; go, going, went, or gone, fly, flying, flew or flown; flow, flowing, flowed or flown and so on,
These are the basic building blocks of English language structure so the moment you’re able to learn to identify these forms and how to use them, you would have taken a giant step toward improving your English language usage.
Thankfully these days, the internet is replete with many free English language learning platforms. One such platform I would readily recommend is this.
Take advantage of the opportunities they provide and you will stop being ashamed of your English.
4. Speak English more frequently.
The more you practice, the better it gets. And the quicker you will say bye to your English speaking anxiety.
Constant practice is a powerful tool for learning and mastering anything, English speaking included. Seize every moment to speak English. Let other people accuse you of being too known, as we say in my country.
That is especially when we mean one is showing off.
When it comes to improving your English speaking skills, there’s no way you can show off too much.
Speak English in the kitchen, in the bathroom, and in the bedroom. Don’t be afraid to speak English on the bus, while making phone calls, in church or in the mosque. Speak it on the farm, at the market, at work, and at all social gatherings
Take advantage of every opportunity to speak English with your friends and even with your enemies.
Above all, cultivate the habit of speaking English with your partner and with members of your family.
Just speak English everywhere, anytime; and you’ll be amazed at the huge improvements this will bring to your speaking skills and also to your confidence level.
5. Read, read and read.
The fact that you’ve reached this stage of my article is ample proof of your interest in reading. Congrats!
Don’t stop reading and don’t get complacent.
Instead, read more than you’ve done so far. Read stories, read media articles that interest you, read notices you come across and read textbooks more often if you’re still a student.
One secret to getting better at any language is reading. I know this from my personal experience. Each time you read, you benefit in at least three ways:
- Your reading skills get better
- There is an increase in your knowledge of useful English words and expressions
- You will learn acceptable ways of constructing sentences in English.
If these benefits cannot help you conquer your anxieties about expressing yourself properly in English, then I don’t know what else can.
Many others have been successful at overcoming their English speaking anxiety by applying these guidelines. They will surely work for you too. Why don’t you begin to try them now?