6 Ways to speak English without sounding nervous

It isn’t always easy to find the courage to speak in English, especially if you think you will make mistakes, or if you’re embarrassed about your accent. But it’s important to overcome your nerves: if you don’t practise speaking English as often as you can, you won’t make progress.

Here are six ways to help you speak with more confidence.

1. Prepare as much as you can

If you know what you need to say in advance, you will feel a lot more ready to speak. Some situations are easier to prepare. For example, if you know you are going to take part in a meeting or give a presentation, it’s much easier to work out what you’re likely to say, You can prepare the questions you might want to ask (or the answers which you can give), as well as handy phrases.

But even in more day-to-day situations, it’s easy to have a few English phrases that you know well enough to use with confidence. For example, learn a few phrases to give your opinion, or ask for things so that you can at least start to say something without feeling embarrassed. Putting yourself in these situations will make speaking feel more natural..

2. Read and listen

Often, the problem isn’t so much what you say, but how others reply. Aim to learn more English so you can better understand other people’s replies to you. Develop your vocabulary through either reading, or listening to English (films and TV is also a good way to do this).

3. Improve your pronunciation

There are many ways you can improve your pronunciation from reducing your accent to learning the correct word stress.

However, the most common reason why someone might find it hard to understand you is not because you have a ‘strong’ accent, but because you are speaking too fast! Learn to slow down to give the other person time to tune in to your accent, and to understand you more easily.

4. Learn some survival phrases

If it all goes wrong, here are some things you can say to start the conversation again.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t understand. Could you repeat that please?”
“Sorry, but I didn’t catch what you said.”
“Sorry, let me start again!”

5. Relax!

This is easy to say, but remember: you’re communicating with another human being. Breathe, smile, and look the other person in the eye. The worst thing that can happen is that you won’t understand (or be understood by) the other person, in which case, you can use a survival phrase and start again!

6. Don’t push yourself too hard

Learning a language is a process which isn’t always linear. You’ll have good days and bad days, but even on your bad days, pick yourself up, and start again. Not giving up is the best way to make progress.

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