How do you feel about speaking English? Do you worry about making mistakes? Do you feel uncomfortable or worry that you will look stupid? I completely understand but I hope I can show you that it's not necessary to feel like this.
I have been in your situation and I know how you feel. I learnt French and German at school but trying to use my knowledge on holidays abroad was very stressful. When I was 30, I lived in Poland for a couple of years. I reached a level where I could have a conversation in Polish with my teacher but didn't like trying to speak to people I didn't know in the shops and so on.
I tell my students that they shouldn't worry about making mistakes, even though I'm not very good at taking my own advice! I really do believe that it's important to try to overcome the fear and the only way to do this is to keep making yourself speak. It does get easier with time and practice.
Here's why you shouldn't worry so much about making mistakes.
1. The main thing is to try to communicate! People will probably understand you, even if it's not perfect. I can usually understand what my students are saying, even when there's a grammar mistake.
2. Most people are kind and understanding. They won't think you're stupid and they won't laugh at you. (And if they do, that's their problem!) People will be impressed that you know another language.
3. Mistakes can actually help you improve. When you notice your mistake, you can learn how to say it right next time. I still remember some Polish sentences I learnt this way 20 years ago!
So, practise speaking as much as you can and try to stop worrying so much about mistakes! I'm not saying you should forget about accuracy completely but don't let it stop you from speaking.
One way to overcome the fear is to find someone you are comfortable talking to. In a class, all the other students make mistakes too so that might make you feel more comfortable. Alternatively, you could have one-to-one lessons with a teacher like me. Teachers are experienced at dealing with learner errors and will help you feel more relaxed, as well as helping you to correct some of your mistakes.
If you are interested in having lessons with me, click here for more information.
You might like my Common Mistakes e-book. Click the button below to get it.
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Follow the blog for mini lessons and tips on how to improve your English.