Did you know that the official word for the fear of foreign languages is “Xenoglossophobia”?

For anyone learning a second language, a common fear is, indeed, conversing in that language with other people, especially with natives. Now, this is not a fear that you should be ashamed or embarrassed of, rather you should use it as an invitation to enhance your English skills.

Fortunately, we have some great tips that you can use so that you are brimming with confidence in no time. Surely, foreign languages are nowhere near as horrifying as massive spiders, right?

Our 6 Tips On What You Can Do To Build Confidence:

#1 Build your functional vocabulary.

If you practice using everyday words in the appropriate contexts, you will find it much easier to construct sentences off the tip of your tongue. Essentially, the larger your range of vocabulary, the more words you have to express what’s on your mind. A great way to build your functional vocabulary is to use authentic materials. For instance, you could watch movies in the original English audio, subscribe to some YouTube channels, or even read online articles. (Read our previous blog post for more tips on how you can improve your English skills outside of the classroom.) So, whatever the method, exposing yourself to the target language is the first step to building your vocabulary and, subsequently, your overall confidence.

#2 Make the most out of the words you do know.

Remember, you probably won’t use as many different words as you may think when speaking. When you are starting off, just use the simple structures and common vocabulary that you are confident and familiar with. At the end of the day, you don’t have to overcomplicate what you want to say as there is usually more than one way to communicate an idea or thought. So, just make the most of the words that you do know and you’ll be surprised with how much you can actually express, even with a beginner word bank.

confused woman

#3 Recognise the value of non-verbal communication.

A simple smile, facial expressions, or hand gestures can convey a thousand words when your mind goes blank. When learning a language, sometimes you will have to be rather creative when it concerns verbal communication. But do not fret if you find yourself using your hands to help you communicate, it happens to everyone. Remember, even native speakers find themselves waving their arms about frantically when they are lost for words!

#4 Talk to yourself.

Talking to yourself may be awkward for some, but it is highly effective when you want to brush up on your speaking skills. You can talk to yourself at any time and regarding any topic. As such, you will not have to worry about judgements and fumbling over your words. Take your time, repeat, and reformulate your sentences as many times as you want. Additionally, by speaking out loud, you will recognise your weak points so you can focus on improving on your mistakes for the next time.

#5 Talk to friends or family members who don’t understand the language.

This is a super fun method for practicing your conversational skills without the fear of being embarrassed in front of a stranger or someone that you don’t know very well. Regardless of whether you are speaking in your native or second language, we all feel more comfortable when conversing with our close ones. For this reason, why don’t you ask a friend or family member to act as your speaking partner? They don’t have to necessarily understand what you’re saying, rather they are just there to help you get used to speaking to another person in English.

#6 Practice common scenarios.

Learners who fear embarrassment or awkwardness often stress about all the possible ways a conversation could go wrong. So, if you know you are heading to a shop or restaurant, for example, run through the scenario in your head or do a little role play with a friend or family member. By running through common scenarios ahead of time, this will give you quality opportunities to consider what someone might say to you and you can prepare your responses accordingly. More often than not, practicing what you expect to say will ease your nerves and help you feel prepared.


Finally, it is important to remember that an abundance of confidence will not magically appear overnight. In order to overcome your fear of speaking English, it is crucial that you practice regularly and you expose yourself to the language as much as possible. Essentially, do not worry about not being understood as addressing your fears is already taking a huge step towards progressing on your journey to becoming competent in English.