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Overcoming the Fear of English Conversations-SEA

Picture this: you’re at a cafe, menu in hand, rehearsing the words in your head before you order in English. The moment arrives, and suddenly, you’re filled with nervousness while your mind is blank. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone! Many non-native speakers experience similar struggles with conversational English.

However, it’s important to remember that the fear of speaking English is a perfectly normal part of the journey towards mastering a new language. In this blog, we’ll offer practical advice, tips and strategies for overcoming the fear of conversations and guide you on how to improve your English speaking skills for these very moments.

Understanding the fear of speaking in English

Speaking in a language you’re unfamiliar with can be understandably scary. However, to overcome our fear, we must explore what are the possible reasons we might have for feeling afraid. Here are some common reasons that might cause learners to hesitate to engage in English conversations:

Making mistakes

Many people learning English worry about saying something wrong or making grammar mistakes in their speech, thinking that these errors will embarrass them. This worry comes from wanting to speak English perfectly and the impression that mistakes might reflect poorly on their capabilities.

Being judged

Feeling worried about others judging how you speak is common. Many learners are scared that people might not think highly of their conversational skills. This fear can make it hard for them to practise speaking English because of a lack of confidence.

Not being understood

Another big worry is the fear that people won't understand what you're trying to say. This can make straightforward tasks, like ordering food at a restaurant or asking for directions, feel really tough.

Lack of vocabulary

Finding the right words can sometimes be hard. Many learners are afraid they will make conversations awkward or stop completely if they don't know the right English words to express themselves. This fear of not having enough words can hold them back from joining conversations or sharing their thoughts during discussions.

Unable to keep up in conversation

Many non-native speakers take longer to process and understand sentences, which can cause them to find it challenging to keep up with rapid, natural speech. This can lead to worries about not understanding everything or responding inappropriately, leading to them avoiding situations where they might have to engage in more complex English conversations.

These fears can dampen a learner's enthusiasm and limit their opportunities to practise speaking English. However, avoiding conversations due to these anxieties only perpetuates the cycle of fear and hinders your progress when it comes to improving your English speaking skills.

Now that we've identified these fears, let's explore effective strategies to conquer them and boost your confidence in conversational English.

Starting small: easing into English conversations


One of the best ways to begin overcoming your fear of speaking English is to start with small, basic interactions that last just a few seconds. This can be greeting someone with a “Hello” or ordering off a numbered menu so you can use numbers instead of pronouncing the dish.

Each small achievement is a step towards greater confidence, so be sure to celebrate these moments!

Starting small and building your way up is also a good strategy during the IELTS Speaking test. Remember that you don’t have to impress the examiner at the start. They are there to support and assess your language skills, not to intimidate you, so let the conversation flow naturally!

Building confidence through gradual practice

To build your speaking confidence, try to incorporate English into your daily routine. This can be as simple as talking to yourself in English about your day or practising common phrases you might use in everyday conversations.

Imagine yourself in different scenarios, like introducing yourself to someone new or asking for information, and practise what you might say. These exercises are a great way to prepare yourself for real conversations!

Cultivate a positive mindset

One of the best ways to become good at speaking English is to adopt a positive mindset. Instead of fearing mistakes, treat them as part of the learning process. Each error provides insight into areas for improvement and deepens your understanding of the language.

Encourage yourself regularly and focus on the progress you're making, no matter how small it may seem. Developing a habit of positive self-talk can transform your learning experience, making it more enjoyable and effective.

Cultivating a positive mindset can also be beneficial when getting ready for your IELTS Speaking test. Some learners worry that a mistake could cause them to fail, but a positive attitude can help you keep trying.

Remember! The examiner is there to evaluate your ability to communicate in English, not to catch you making mistakes. They expect learners to have different levels of proficiency and are interested in how you use the language to express ideas and engage in conversation.

Make use of technology

Technology can be helpful when trying to build confidence in your English speaking skills. Many apps and websites are out there to make learning to speak English fun and interactive. They can teach you how to pronounce words, give you useful phrases to use, and let you practise conversations. For extra help, try downloading the IELTS by IDP app to get free training materials to practise your English speaking skills, as well as helpful tips for your IELTS Speaking test.

You can also join online groups or language exchange communities. You might find it easier to overcome the fear of conversations with the anonymity of an online handle or behind a computer screen. These can be great places to practise speaking and get advice from other people learning English and from those who already speak it well.

Build confidence and prepare for your IELTS Speaking test with IDP

As you become more comfortable and confident in your English speaking abilities, try challenging yourself with more advanced conversations. This can include participating in more complex discussions or going on a night out with some native English-speaking friends. These experiences will make you a more well-rounded speaker.

When you feel ready, take the next step by booking your IELTS Mock Test with IDP. To help you prepare and succeed, IDP offers support with IELTS free practice tests , learning materials and more.

Remember, every learner faces challenges, but with patience, practice, and a positive mindset, you can achieve your goal of speaking English confidently. So stay positive, believe in the progress you have made, and embrace the journey to becoming a confident English speaker!

When you’re ready, book your IELTS test and open up pathways for your studies or career.