The Unbelievably Easy Way To Speak Confident English

The number one thing I am asked as an English coach and teacher is ‘Ken, how can I be more confident speaking English? I always get scared and forget what I want to say, especially with native speakers’ I always reply that it’s the number one thing most language learners fear and have a problem with so don’t worry.

Of course, saying don’t worry always makes them more worried!

But what is the solution to speak confident English if you are a non-native speaker?

Well, you’ve got to remember that even native English speakers get scared speaking English in certain situations so your problem isn’t all that unique.

Let me tell you a little trick that I used to do when I lived in Spain and was learning to speak Spanish.

I had the same fears as you guys. I was so scared of speaking Spanish – especially to native Spanish speakers – as I knew I would speak wrongly and incorrect Spanish. I knew that I would get embarrassed and this would stop me speaking again.

I remember one time that changed a lot of things for me. I was looking to rent a new apartment in the south of Spain in the town of Marbella.

I found one, it was close to my work in the centre of the town. It had a big sign hanging from the large balcony that said ‘Se Aquilla’ along with the phone number. ‘Se Aquilla’ in Spanish means ‘For Rent’ but the big problem was it was only in Spanish and not in English.

I immediately got worried because I knew that if I wanted to rent the apartment, I would need to call and speak in Spanish. Panic set in, I had never spoken Spanish before on the telephone, how was I going to manage it?

I went to the café to ponder this situation and how I was going to deal with this language barrier and situation. What was I going to do?

I knew basic sentences in Spanish, I knew vocabulary but my grammar wasn’t too great, but I knew the basics.

I thought to myself, if I was in the UK, what would I say and what would the owner of the apartment say to me?

So, I began to write down a conversation using my limited Spanish. I wrote down what I would say, what they would say.

Now I know that life doesn’t run smoothly so I began to think what happens if the conversation doesn’t go the way I think. So, I began to write down other things that they could possibly say.

I had a feeling they would know that I wasn’t a native Spaniard so they would obviously make it easy for me or at least I was so hoping this would be the case, after all, it is what I would do if someone called me.

I knew the purpose of the conversation was to ask a couple of questions and make an appointment to see the apartment, I could then take a Spanish speaking friend of mine to the appointment and help if needed.

So I finished writing down the two way conversation, a very basic and simple conversation as I knew it had to be. It went something like this:

  • Me: Buenos dias. Estoy buscando para un apartamento se aquilla (good afternoon, I’m looking for an apartment to rent)
  • Owner: Si (yes)
  • Me: Lo tienes? (do you have one)
  • Owner: Si yo tengo. (yes I have)
  • Me: Hay un apartamento cerca la playa (there’s an apartment next to the beach)
  • Owner: Si (yes)
  • Me: Esta libre? (is it available)
  • Owner: Si (yes)
  • Me: Bueno, puedo verlo (great, can I see it)

Anyway, you get the idea, it was all leading up to arranging to see it. As you can no doubt see, it was a very basic conversation but this little victory gave me so much encouragement and motivation that I could speak Spanish, even if it was wrong, they would still understand me.

As it turns out, I went to see the apartment, loved it and moved in a few weeks later and lived there for two more years.

This really gave me the enthusiasm and courage so I would look at other situations where I needed to speak Spanish. At the town hall for residencia things for example.

As a knock-on effect, I began to get more confident and learn better phrases and expressions that I could use. These were real pieces of vocabulary that were used every day and in real situations. My grammar improved too.

The easy way to speak English is to think where are you going to use it. If there is no place you would use it, think of somewhere that you could practice and do the same as I did.

Write down an English conversation, a couple of minutes conversation of how you want the conversation to be. Remember that doing this puts you in control and you make the first move and you decide the course of the conversation.

Practice makes perfect is a phrase that can NEVER be overused. Practice what you already know and keep practicing.

Soon you will find it’s an unbelievably easy way to speak confident English.

Ajarn Ken Learn English

Ajarn Ken is a native English speaker from Scotland in the UK and has been teaching English since the year 2008. Most recently Ken has been teaching, coaching and mentoring university graduates in Bangkok, Thailand to prepare them to successfully pass interviews to be Cabin Crew and Flight Attendants with airlines all over the world

Ajarn Ken

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