How to speak a foreign language confidently

08 March 2020 by
Getting over the fear of speaking Getting over the fear of speaking
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During the past 20 years of teaching English I have developed a system for the communication-based language teaching of adults.


A research contributed to this, when I kept reading English methodology books on the subject for two years every evening and at weekends, and by using about 30 of them finally I wrote my thesis years ago. I was looking for the best approach, and I also wanted to know how big the role of grammar is in verbal communication.


The surprising conclusion was that there is no best method, because every student is different. On one hand it depends on the age group, and on the other hand some people like grammatical explanations and can learn them easily, and there are some who don`t. On the whole, however, the personalised communication method proved to be the most effective, which means understanding the grammar structure from the text first, then practising it in writing, and finally practising extensively in verbal form using games for children and role plays for teenagers and adults.


A great variety of students fight with a great variety of problems.


  • In the course of getting ready for the language exam or the final exam many skills are need to be developed to acquire language knowledge, like reading, writing, grammar in use, listening and speaking.
  • There are some who only need the language for their vacation abroad, so they exclude grammar from their life as much as they can.
  • At work, however, the ones who have to write English e-mails need grammar too.
  • Some students have problems with the words, they didn’t learn enough and they didn’t read enough texts in that foreign language, so they cannot express themselves due to the lack of vocabulary.
  • Some people do well at work writing letters, their English is excellent, they know a lot of expressions, but they are afraid to speak. They are scared of making mistakes, because earlier at school they were corrected immediately as soon as they used a sentence structure with bad pronunciation or with grammar mistakes.
  • Many preparing for the language exam have the same concern.


But whatever approach they use for learning, whatever problems they struggle with, one thing has to be common for everybody, and this is communication as the final goal.


One mustn’t put communication into the background.


It is fair enough that we shouldn’t make mistakes in certain basic grammatical structures, these really have to be learned properly, but a few errors will appear anyway. And everybody makes mistakes. Even teachers do, and speaking perfectly is not the only thing that earns the maximum points on the language exam either. And in real life nobody will care about this, the goal is to express yourself somehow. You can pay attention to anything while talking, apart from what you might say incorrectly. Because what can go wrong? The pronunciation? There is a different accent in all countries and towns. Or do you make grammar mistakes? What is worth more, saying what you want at a normal speed, or not saying anything while thinking of how to be perfect?


If you are afraid, speak more often and practice a lot. Start it at home, repeat the expressions and sentences loudly. On top of this look for the opportunities how you could speak more in that foreign language, even with friends or with a teacher, or in an online language learning group with somebody. Face your fear bravely.


„The real self-confidence can only be achieved with something that we are afraid of. Because in these challenges there is also the fear of not succeeding. But if we do it, we overcome our fears. Overcoming fears: There is no bigger challenge that I know of.” Imre Csernus


(The Hungarian translation is available on


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