You might be an eloquent speaker when it comes to your mother tongue, but expecting the same standards from yourself when speaking in a foreign language may not be very realistic.
Especially, if you’re at the early stages of learning. Learners are often told not to worry about the mistakes they’re making, however, it is easy to understand why you would like to make a good impression on your audience.
To overcome this difficulty, you may try slowing down your speaking speed.
Nobody will hold it against you if you speak more slowly and clearly. Great speakers do the same to get their message across. Selecting your words carefully may also be seen as a sign of respect towards your audience. It shows that you want to give them the best possible answer.
You may be worried that the people you’re talking to are impatient and would like you to say what you want as quickly as possible.
First of all, it may not be true – people often prefer a well-thought-out answer to a rushed one.
So just relax.
Another practical thing you can do is equipping yourself with fixed phrases you can use when remaining silent doesn’t seem to be an option.
Here the speaker gains considerable amount of time to reflect just by repeating the question and adding a few sentences. If you do the same, you’ll sound more fluent and won’t feel the pressure of having to say something before you’re ready.
When you learn a new word, try to memorize a couple of sentences that contain it.
There might come a time when you can use one particular sentence with little, or no alteration at all. Unfortunately, many people learn words by heart, but have no idea how to use them in a sentence.
It will be such a relief not having to worry about whether the sentence is correct grammatically or not. Let’s look at an example:
appreciate = to recognize the value of something/somebody
I think it’s necessary to feel appreciated in a relationship/ at work.
I appreciate all your hard work.
Isn’t it much more useful to memorize ’appreciate’ this way?
When speaking in a foreign language, you might be so focused on what you are saying and whether it’s correct or not, that you forget to listen to what others are saying.
This is a big mistake as they might be using the exact words or grammar you’ll be needing later on. So pay attention to what’s being said around you, it’s your most important resource at the time of speaking to someone.
We also need to keep in mind the fact that communication is a two-way process. Not only does it make you seem uninterested – even rude – if you don’t ask questions, you might also end up being the one who has to do all the talking.
So, when you’ve run out of ideas about what to say next, remember: others might have something to add.
What are your views on that?
How about you? What do you think?
Why do you think there’s so much violence on TV?
Questions like this will keep the conversation going and will show your interest in other people’s opinion. They will also give you time to relax a little and start enjoying yourself.
As I said at the beginning of this article, you might know a lot about the language, but this is passive knowledge that must be activated somehow. Your aim is to be able to produce correct English; practice is undeniably the best way to learn and improve.
Speaking, on the other hand, is a much more spontaneous process and nothing prepares you for it better than actually doing it. So, find people you can practise with.