I'm Vanessa from SpeakEnglishWithVanessa.com.
Do you feel shy when you speak English?
Let's talk about it.
I recently got an email from a student that said, "I'm usually a sociable person, but
something happens when I speak English and all of a sudden I feel really shy.
What should I do to stop feeling shy when I speak English?"
Everyone who's learned another language has felt that sensation of feeling shy when you're
about to speak that other language.
Have you ever felt that?
I know I felt that when I was first learning French.
I decided to go to a French meetup group in my city and there were about 20 French speakers
at a cafe.
I just sat down with them and for a whole hour I just smiled and nodded, but I had no
idea what they were saying.
I felt so shy and worried that someone would ask me a question and maybe I wouldn't understand
what they said or I wouldn't know what to say.
There were a lot of things going on in my head, but for me, I'm usually not a shy person,
but in that situation I felt incredibly shy.
I just wanted to fade away.
I hope that today's lesson will be able to help you if you've ever felt the same way
that I felt.
Today I'd like to give you some top tips for overcoming shyness in English that will help
you speak, express yourself and have fun in English.
My first tip to help you overcome feeling shy in English is to assess why you might
feel shy in English.
This is kind of like your high school biology classes where you needed to create a hypothesis
or a guess and then come up with some steps to reach a conclusion.
So let's do that together.
Why do you feel shy when you speak English?
Is it because you're also shy when you speak your native language?
In this case it's just your personality and that's totally fine.
Don't expect yourself to be a different person when you speak English.
Maybe if you see movies and TV shows and you say, "I want to be like that", but in real
life, in your native language, you're not outgoing, you're not outspoken, you feel shy
in your native language.
Well, you're still going to be yourself in another language and that's great.
You want to be able to be yourself and also show your true personality in any language.
Is it because you don't have the right vocabulary to express yourself?
Is this why you feel shy?
Well, in this case you can focus on improving your vocabulary.
Is it because you don't understand what other people are saying?
In this case, you can focus on improving your listening skills, especially to fast English
because that's what most people in conversation are going to be using.
Is it because you feel like you don't have something helpful or useful to share in the
If this is the case, you've probably felt this in your native language as well.
I know I've felt this in English and in French.
If people were talking about something and I wanted to contribute, but I had some thoughts
in my head like, Oh, maybe they don't really want to hear what I have to say, or maybe
the thing that I'm going to say isn't useful to the conversation.
Those kind of internal doubts.
If you feel like that in English, you've probably felt like that in your own native language
After you've done this number one step of assessing why you feel shy in English, looking
deeply within yourself and coming up with some real answers for yourself, it's time
to move to tip number two.
Tip number two is to start small and speak with someone you trust.
I talk about this concept a lot in detail in my other video about how to speak English
I filmed this video on the beach in Costa Rica, so I hope that you'll see the ocean,
see the waves and feel relaxed and not stressed.
In this video I talk about how you can start small.
If your first experience or your only experience speaking English is with a co-worker at work
while you're passing by them quickly, boy, that is extremely stressful.
It's a professional situation.
You don't have time to think about it.
It's just not where you want to start.
This isn't starting small.
How can you start small?
Well, I recommend just speaking by yourself at home.
Talk about what you're doing as you're cooking breakfast, as you're getting dressed, talk
about what you're doing.
Use those daily expressions to help express what you're doing in your daily life.
If you need any vocabulary for this, I've made several videos about household expressions.
You can check out this video I made up here about 150 household expressions or you can
check out some other videos I've made about cleaning expressions or kitchen expressions.
I hope that these will be helpful to you.
After you've been speaking with yourself for a little bit at home, I recommend talking
with someone you trust.
That might be a friend.
It might be another English learner.
It might be a co-worker who's also your friend you feel comfortable with.
Go out for coffee and talk about your latest vacation or what you did over the weekend.
This is a comfortable topic that you can kind of prepare a little bit in your head in advance
and it's one step up from speaking by yourself.
You're speaking with someone else, but it's not your boss.
It's not a presentation.
It's just in a comfortable situation.
I'd like to give you a little three-month plan to help you feel less shy when you speak
with other people.
Month one, the first month, I want you to speak at home about your daily life.
Like I mentioned, talk about what you're doing in this really comfortable situation.
In the second month, you can speak with someone you trust, a friend, a co-worker who's your
friend, an English teacher who you trust, another English learner in this comfortable
situation for the second month.
Then for the third month, it's time to speak English in a new situation.
That might mean speaking English at your work, giving a presentation, with your boss or you
could go to an English meetup like I talked about with the French meetup that I went to.
I just used the website, Meetup.com and there are plenty of language meetups around the
When you speak in a new situation like this, it can be extremely scary, but if you've been
preparing for two months in advance, great, you will feel so much more comfortable.
So I hope that that three-month plan will help you to succeed and feel less shy when
you speak English.
All right, let's move on to tip number three.
Tip number three is for helping you to overcome the feeling of shyness in conversation is
to prepare before your conversation.
If you've been speaking at home by yourself and speaking with a trusted friend, you're
already preparing, but if you know that at work every day you're going to pass by your
American co-worker and have a little bit of small talk and you know that this situation
is going to happen, well, prepare.
The best way to prepare is by asking some questions and also preparing some answers
to those same questions because the other person will hopefully ask you the same question
I made a video a little while ago called How to Start a Conversation with Anyone.
In that video, you can check it out up here, I gave a lot of in-depth questions that you
can ask, but we'll talk about a couple here.
Some common questions that you can ask in conversation and small talk situations are,
"What did you do over the weekend?"
This is extremely common.
Or, "Do you have any fun plans for the holiday?"
If there's a holiday coming up in your country, usually we talk about it in small talk.
But not only do you need to memorize those couple small talk questions so that you can
ask them, you also need to prepare answers for them because other people will hopefully
ask you those same questions back.
So if you ask someone, "What did you do over the weekend", you'll listen to their answer
and they might say, "What about you?"
And you could say, "Oh, I took my dog to the lake.
It was a lot of fun."
It's a simple sentence, but you're easily answering their question quickly after they've
asked you because you've thought about it a little bit in advance.
Or if they ask you, "Do you have any fun plans for the holiday?"
You might say, "Oh, not really yet, but I might go to my friend's house and have a party."
By preparing just a little bit, you can boost your confidence and feel less shy because
My fourth tip to helping you to overcome shyness in English is to be kind to yourself.
Sometimes shyness is just fear in disguise.
Have you ever thought, "I'm worried that I won't have the right thing to say?
I'm afraid that I won't be able to understand them."
These words worry, afraid, those are words associated with fear, but we also associate
them with reasons why we might be shy.
It's completely normal to feel fear when you're doing something new.
Even if you've been learning English for 40 years, you're still learning.
We're all still learning, so it's really important not to beat yourself up.
This is a lovely idiom that means figuratively punch yourself when you make a mistake.
Don't beat yourself up when you make a mistake.
Instead, be kind to yourself.
If you forget a word, it's going to be all right.
The next time that you forget a verb tense or you just misunderstand what someone said,
think to yourself, "It's okay that I made a mistake because I'm still learning", and
we are all always learning.
I am always learning.
You are always learning.
We will always be lifelong learners, so this is something that will help in every conversation
for your entire life, that you are still learning.
When you feel that stress inside of you, I want to help with a little breathing technique.
Let's imagine that someone's speaking to you and they're speaking so fast and you feel
like, "Oh, I hope that they don't ask me a question.
I just want to get away from the situation."
Okay, well I want you to take a deep breath in.
Can you do that with me?
And a deep breath out.
It doesn't need to be so obvious, especially when you're having a conversation.
You can just do it slowly and subtly and quietly and then take a second breath, and then a
final third breath.
When you take these three breaths, just take a moment to step back.
Try to keep your heart from pounding out of your chest.
Taking a moment to slow down will help you to feel less fear, less worry, and will help
you to realize, okay, if I make a mistake, I need to be kind to myself.
It might not seem like much, but it's worth trying, right?
Before we go, let's review my top four tips to overcoming shyness in English.
I'd like you to read these out loud with me, that starting with that number one tip of
speaking in a comfortable situation at home.
I want you to read these out loud with me.
1) Assess why you feel shy in English.
2) Start small.
Speak with someone you trust.
3) Prepare for the conversation.
4) Be kind to yourself.
And now I have a question for you.
Do you have any tips for overcoming shyness in English?
Have you ever felt shy in English?
Thank you so much for learning English with me and I'll see you again next Friday for
a new lesson here on my YouTube channel.
The next step is to download my free e-book, Five Steps to Becoming a Confident English
You'll learn what you need to do to speak confidently and fluently.
Don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more free lessons.
Thanks so much.