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2/26/14

7 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Speaking English and Communicate with Courage

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7 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Speaking


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7 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Speaking English and Communicate with Courage

English and Communicate with Courage


by Justin on August 5, 2013

As language learners, we all know the experience of feeling


like a child again, of not having the words to express ourselves, and the struggle to maintain our dignity in the face
of self-criticism.
We often believe that the other person is judging us, that our mistakes and difficulties make us look stupid, and
that our inability to communicate the way we hope to or expect somehow reflects our lack of self-worth.
Theres a voice in our head that says dont open your mouth, youll sound stupid, and the sad part is that most
of us tend to listen. Even worse, we project this voice upon other people, assuming that they are criticizing us.
But the truth is that you will never get fluent if you dont open your mouth and use the language you are learning.
Its a hall of mirrors, a labyrinth of self-doubt, and the only way to move forward and become a confident and
proficient English speaker is to develop the courage to move past your fears.
Youre not alone. This is what it feels like to learn another language.
Free Present Just For RLE Members Top 5 Resources to Learn English Online
And Im not just talking about beginners. While beginners are more susceptible to this, and their problems are
more daunting (intimidating), advanced and highly proficient speakers suffer from this problem all the time.
Leia este texto em portuges | Lee en espaol
Here are 7 Tips to Conquer your fear of speaking English and communicate with dignity.

1. Accept that Fear is Normal and You Need Courage to Face it


Courage is resistance of fear, mastery of fear not absence of fear. Mark Twain
We walk around with the illusion that fluent speakers dont feel fear, that one day well learn enough and we
wont be scared. The truth is that advanced speakers, and even native speakers feel fear when communicating.
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7 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Speaking English and Communicate with Courage

Fear is a fact of life, and those who have learned to conquer their fear are the ones who go far.
As the Mark Twain quote says, courage is the resistance of fear, not the absence of fear. The only thing that will
reduce your fear is to face it, and in doing so you build courage and confidence, and you will realize that the
monsters youve created are not real.
You may also realize that your biggest obstacle isnt your English, but the fact that you are paralyzed by fear and
have never learned how to face it.
Fear is a fact of life, not just for English, but for everything. For example, job interviews, tests, meetings,
presentations, talking to a pretty girl, or guy. You must learn to face it.
Life Begins at the end of your comfort zone. Neale Donald Walsch
So what can you do to leave your comfort zone and find the courage to open your mouth and speak English?
Really, whats the worst that can happen?
And what positive things could and will happen if you find the courage to open it again and again?
7 Things Not to Do When Speaking English

2. Accept That Your Mistakes and Difficulties are an Important


Part of Learning
If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate. Thomas Watson, Sr.
Another illusion that English learners tend to have is that fluent speakers dont make mistakes. The truth is that
we all make mistakes, even native speakers.
Sure, English learners make more mistakes, and beginners make a lot more, but theyre a natural part of the
process, and its the price you pay to develop fluency. You dont succeed in anything in life if you arent
prepared to make mistakes.
It may help to know that very very few non-native speakers speak perfect English. You may look at them and
think theyre speaking perfectly, but the vast majority of people who learn English as a second language make
little mistakes along the way.
Another important thing to understand is that native speakers dont judge your fluency based on your mistakes.
We judge your fluency based upon your ability to communicate and connect with us, which is the true function of
the language.
This does not mean that you should ignore your grammatical mistakes, but rather accept them as a part of the
process, and take advantage of the opportunity to learn from them.
Mistakes are the portals of discovery. James Joyce
Michael Jordan Says Repeated Failure Leads to Success
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7 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Speaking English and Communicate with Courage

3. Master Cultural Fluency and Survival Phrases


Our definition of Cultural Fluency is: the understanding and effective use of the hidden cultural currents of
communication. It is an awareness of the ways culture operates in communication and conflict, and the ability to
respond effectively to these differences.
Whether youre a beginner, intermediate, or advanced speaker, here at the RLE Fluency Center, weve
systemized a group of simple and culturally correct phrases that are of enormous help to English learners. We call
these Survival Phrases, and we use them to teach cultural fluency.
One important idea is that sometimes the biggest difficulty learners have is not their lack of knowledge, but rather
the fact that they dont know how to communicate and investigate and what they dont know in English speaking
culture.
Heres a quick, but very incomplete overview of RLEs cultural fluency and survival phrase system:
1. Say sorry? when you dont understand something,
2. Can you repeat please? and Can you speak slower?
3. When you want to know a word or a phrase, ask What does that mean?
4. Finally, when you dont know a word or a phrase, ask How do you say insert word in English?
Like I said, this is a very incomplete description, but it is important. To gain a complete understanding of this
topic, check out 7 Phrases That Will Drastically Improve Your Cultural Fluency and/or watch these 2 short
videos that illustrate this topic:
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Simulated Conversation WITH BAD CULTURAL FLUENCY

The Same Conversation WITH GOOD CULTURAL FLUENCY

4. Make English a Fun, Convenient and Practical Daily Habit


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7 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Speaking English and Communicate with Courage

Effective learners know that you have to apply what you learn to your life and create authentic experiences with
the language. They also know that the best way to do this is to make it fun, practical, and above all, convenient.
The more you get accustomed to using English in your daily life, the easier it will be to find the courage to
conquer your fear of speaking. The problem with traditional methods is that learners focus way too much on
grammar, and ignore the experience of English.
What are these English For Life Strategies? We talk a lot more about them in 5 Ways to Make English a Fun
Part of Your Daily Life, but a few of these are: watching TV & movies, listening to music you enjoy, listening to
podcasts that teach English, and meeting people in person and online.

When you start having daily contact with English in your life
(English For Life), several things will happen:
1. Your automatic reaction of fear when you dont understand something will relax and you will feel calm
even if you dont understand everything.
2. Every other aspect of your learning process will get easier because you will gradually get used to the
sounds and rhythms of the language.
3. You will become a lot more enthusiastic about your learning process because you will be doing things
you enjoy in authentic learning situations.
4. Learning grammar will get a lot easier because it will be complemented by authentic learning
experiences
5 Ways to Make English a Fun and Convenient Part of Your Daily Life

5. Master Greetings and Goodbyes


One of the quickest ways to conquer your fear of speaking is to master greetings (hellos) and goodbyes. And
Im not just talking about How are you? and other simple ones.
We use them in nearly every face-to-face and even online interactions, and even if youre only a beginner,
learning them will help you feel in control and fluent for few a small moments at the beginning and end of every
conversation.
You see, if you can connect with the person and make a fluent first impression, its much easier to start your
conversation with courage and not get so paralyzed by your fear. And if you know how to say goodbye to a
person in a relaxed and confident way, you will leave every conversation with a sense of dignity and confidence
that will only build with time.
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7 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Speaking English and Communicate with Courage

You may not be able to get fluent in the entire English language in a few days or weeks, but you sure can learn
how to communicate confidently and fluently with your greetings and goodbyes.
With a great repertoire of greetings like, Whats up? Whats going on? How have you been? Whats
good? you are able to connect with people in a natural and friendly way, which is great for your confidence.
And by mastering a small group of dynamic goodbyes like take care, have a good one, it was nice to see
you, have a nice day/week/trip, and later, you end every conversation on a positive note.
This is one of the most dynamic and fun parts of the language, it immediately gives you the tools connect with
almost anybody, and with just a handful of phrases, you can start and end every conversation with dignity,
confidence, and even fluency.

6. Find People Who Support Your Learning


If your English learning support network is composed of people who are critical and unsupportive of you, its
going to be difficult to overcome your fears because they are reinforcing them.
As an English learner, you need to find people who encourage, support, and celebrate you in your learning and
your mistakes. Ive met too many people who have a distorted perception of their English ability because they
are around people who criticize them and dont give them the support they need.
If the other person is more advanced than you, its often the case that their criticism and resistance comes from
their own lack of self-esteem with their English. They criticize others because they dont feel secure with their
own English, and they feel validated if they verify that you speak worse.
This also happens a lot with people who believe that fluency is merely a question of correct grammar and will
incessantly criticize your mistakes while ignoring the more essential question of communication.
So what kind of people do you need in your life to support your English?
You need people and communities who encourage you to speak, to use your English, and to make lots of
mistakes. They will help you understand that your mistakes, difficulties, and frustrations are completely natural,
and that the only way to conquer them is to keep moving forward and build courage, to work hard and devote
yourself to your process, and to make English a passion and something you do every day.
You can find people and communities online (Check out Ethans Speaking English Online article), and you can
even meet people in person. Couchsurfing is a good place to start to meet people in your city, and we have an
international English speaking party we do every month in Belo Horizonte, and were in the process of expanding
to Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona, and other cities.

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7 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Speaking English and Communicate with Courage

7. Improve Your Concentration and Emotional Balance with


Activities Like Meditation
The final piece of advice that will help you conquer your fears and speak English with courage is to work on your
concentration and emotional life with meditation.
You see, meditation will improve every aspect of your life and help you develop confidence, courage, and mental
equanimity in whatever you decide to do, and you will see quick results with your English.

If your mind is a muscle, then meditation is a way to take it to the gym. The
stronger your control of your mind becomes, the more youre able to consciously control what your mind
focuses on and how it processes new information. Strengthening your mind in this way has repercussions on
every aspect of your life: your emotional health and self esteem, your work performance, your discipline, your
relationships, your ability to communicate well, your overall happiness, your stress levels, and your physical
health as well.
From Mark Mansons Meditation: Why You Should Do It
As we explored in How Meditation Can Improve Your English (and Your Life), meditation will help your selfesteem, your emotional health, and give you the courage to open your mouth in the face of fear.
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7 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Speaking English and Communicate with Courage

Most importantly for your English, it will improve your concentration, which will naturally improve your memory
and give you the psychological tools to speak better.

Conclusion and Call to Action


I know theres a lot of information here, but remember that this is a process, and as Lao Tzu (the ancient Taoist
mystic) once said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This article is an excellent first step.
Another big step you can take is joining thousands of English learners from around the world in the Real Life
English international community. If you join now, you get FOR FREE a special report on The Top 5
Resources For Learning English For Free Online.
We hope enjoyed this article! Wed love to hear from you in the comments. Where are you from and how did
you learn English? What strategies have helped you conquer your fear and develop confidence?
6 comments

Add a com m ent

JuanPablo Carrera
"if you know how to say goodbye to a person in a relaxed and confident
way, you will leave every conversation with a sense of dignity - It can't
more true. I felt really related to that. thanks a lot for this amazing job.
Reply

1 Like Follow Post Yesterday at 5:54am

Musa Darfur
subscribers

Follow Darfur at Sudan Liberation Movement/Army 196

so thank all teacher from lanuga English i so happy today and English
Reply Like Follow Post about an hour ago
Suresh Soulbuddy
School Teacher

Follow P.G. ASSISTANT IN ENGLISH at Govt.

superb
Reply

2 Like Follow Post August 6, 2013 at 10:24pm

Awras Hameed

Follow University of Baghdad

it is the truth... happened to us..always.


Reply Like Follow Post August 13, 2013 at 10:00pm
Andrei Cuzuioc Ion Creanga
Excellent article!
Reply Like Follow Post August 14, 2013 at 2:49pm
Lyndon Tseng
pretty impressive!
Reply

1 Like Follow Post November 20, 2013 at 2:40pm

Facebook social plugin

{ 9 comments read them below or add one }


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7 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Speaking English and Communicate with Courage

Damaris Alencar August 5, 2013 at 10:40 pm


Great article! Had to share this with my friend, Ive been encouraging her to put her English into practice
more and the points you raise here summarise very well what Ive already told her. Hopefully itll help her
out!

Suresh Soulbuddy August 6, 2013 at 7:24 pm


superb

Awras Hameed August 13, 2013 at 7:00 pm


it is the truth happened to us..always.

Andrei Cuzuioc August 14, 2013 at 11:49 am


Excellent article!

Justin August 14, 2013 at 7:24 pm


Thank you so much Andrei! Nice to hear from you.

Justin August 14, 2013 at 7:25 pm


And then we learn to overcome our fear and speak! Thanks for the comment, Awras.

Lyndon Tseng November 20, 2013 at 12:40 pm


pretty impressive!

JuanPablo Carrera February 25, 2014 at 3:54 am


"if you know how to say goodbye to a person in a relaxed and confident way, you will leave every
conversation with a sense of dignity It can't more true. I felt really related to that. thanks a lot for this
amazing job.

reallifebh.com/conquerfear

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7 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Speaking English and Communicate with Courage

Musa Darfur February 26, 2014 at 12:06 pm


so thank all teacher from lanuga English i so happy today and English
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