Is your shyness limiting your ability to perfect your fluency in English? Here are five tips on how to stop hesitating and have confidence to speak to anyone!
The Elephant in the Room
It’s that thing, that really important thing, that no one wants to talk about. You might be an amazing student — perfect grammar, wide vocabulary, you name it! But you will not be fluent in English until you overcome one big hurdle: being too shy to speak.
If you’ve ever felt like you’re too shy to join a conversation, or you’ve hesitated so long during a conversation that you’ve lost your chance to speak, we want to help you get past that! We want to help you build a strategy to stop being so shy, to stop hesitating, and to feel more confident speaking English.
1 – The Actor Method
And, action! Let’s pretend you’re not you; you’re an actor or actress in a play or movie. You can even use one of your favorite actors or actresses as inspiration. You an pretend that you’re going to take on a new character — a character who is braver and more outspoken — than you are in your own life. This is a great way to have fun with your learning and lose the stress. Create your English alter-ego!
2 – Your Own Personal Cheerleaders
Imagine that other people are cheering you on! You don’t even have to pretend – most people want you to succeed! Most people want you to improve your English and to see you speak with confidence. So, those around you really are cheering you on, like your own pep squad, and they want you to do well! Keep this in mind when your confidence is running low and you’re having a hard time staying motivated. No one is judging you, no one is sitting around waiting for you to make a mistake. We all want you to do well! Harness your energy and use it to speak better English.
3 – Self-Consciousness Is Not Your Friend!
If you are a shy English speaker, this can work in your favor! Most people are just as shy as you are, and they are focusing more on their own self-consciousness than looking to you and thinking about how you’re doing. If you make a mistake, no one will really notice! So much of our shyness revolves on what we think others will think of us, when instead we should use that energy to pace ourselves, to focus on what we’ve accomplished, and to not care so much about what others think.
4 – Don’t Hesitate
When practicing your English, don’t put so much pressure on yourself to construct these long, beautiful sentences. This is where it’s very easy to hesitate, to lose your train of thought, and to trip over your words. Instead, start with one word at a time. Start small and build from that!
Another great way to avoid hesitation is to ask questions. Start with basic questions, like asking where to find a good place for lunch, and wait for the other person to answer. Most people will want to help, so have a follow up question ready if you need it! Take your time, measure your words carefully, and be brave enough to take the next step.
5 – Speak Like a Caveman (or Cavewoman!)
It’s OK to use fillers (like “uh huh,” “I see,” or “mhm”) in normal conversations! If you’re unsure about what to say or how to contribute to a conversation, try instead to keep it simple, but be sure to contribute even in the smallest way. Your body language is also very important, and you can use that when you’re not comfortable enough to contribute verbally.
Click on the videos below to learn more about how Gabby deals with shyness!