How to reduce anxiety when speaking English

A student looking worried

If you ever feel anxious about speaking English, here are some tips to help.

Do you ever feel scared or worried about speaking English? Perhaps you get sweaty hands or your heart starts beating fast. Those are signs that you might be feeling anxious. People often feel anxious about speaking in front of classmates, speaking to native speakers, making mistakes and various other things.

Anxiety is very common, but if the worries stop you from speaking, then you might miss opportunities to practise your English. You also can't get much feedback on your speaking from the teacher or other people. Other people miss out on the chance to hear your ideas as well.

It takes time to overcome anxiety about speaking English, but it can be done! Here are some tips.

1. Set yourself a goal

Start small. Set a goal that is a bit challenging but achievable and not too scary. For example:

  • Say 'How are you?' to a classmate or an English-speaking friend.
  • Ask the teacher one question in your next class.

And here are some more challenging goals.

  • Chat with somebody for a few minutes.
  • Speak in front of an audience.
  • Speak on the phone.

Remember, the goal is not to do these things perfectly, it's just to do them! Search for opportunities, and if you achieve your goal, that's great! Increase the difficulty of your goals over time.

2. Think positively

Tell yourself positive things: I can do it. I've got this. It will be OK! Whether you are a beginner or an advanced-level speaker, thinking negatively will limit what you do. Thinking positively will help you to do your best and improve.

3. Face your fears (gently)

If you feel anxious, you may want to avoid speaking. It might be easier to do something totally different, such as reading or grammar exercises. However, avoiding the issue can just make it grow bigger and scarier. Don't wait – start speaking little by little. It will be OK!

4. Look for a good partner

Try to find someone who you feel comfortable speaking with, perhaps somebody who is patient and kind and keen to speak English too. If you can practise speaking regularly, it should help to reduce anxious feelings.

5. Plan what to do in case of problems

We often worry about having problems like these and not knowing how to deal with them.

  • What if I forget a word?
  • What if my mind goes blank?
  • What if I don't understand what the other person is saying?

By planning what you will do and say if these situations occur, you may feel less anxious. If you forget a word, for example, prepare some phrases such as I can't remember the word. What I mean is … and then try to describe the word. You could perhaps use synonyms (It's similar to …) or antonyms (It's the opposite of …). Or if somebody says something you don't understand, you can say Sorry, I didn't get that or Sorry, could you say that again? Write these phrases in your notebook and practise them.

Communication is never 100 per cent smooth, not even for native speakers. Overcoming such problems is a very normal part of speaking.

6. Accept problems and mistakes

Learning a language is not easy, and you will definitely have problems and make mistakes along the way. Everybody does! But making a mistake can teach you a lot and help you to improve your skills. Remember that good speakers are not people who speak perfectly all the time. Instead, good speakers can solve communication problems when they occur. 

7. Note your progress

Over days and weeks, experiment with different ways to reduce and cope with anxiety, and keep notes of what works for you and what doesn't. Note down your speaking goals too and tick them as you achieve them, so that you can see your progress and build up positive experiences of speaking.

8. Reward yourself

If you try hard and make progress but your reward is just to do more practice, it might not be very motivating. So, reward yourself with something nice like eating a chocolate, buying a new notebook, taking time off to relax or whatever makes you feel good. Reward yourself when you achieve a goal, overcome a problem, learn something important or do something challenging. 


Language level

Average: 4.1 (23 votes)
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Submitted by ManalFahmy on Sun, 28/01/2024 - 07:46


Actually it's first time to find article explain my problem I'll try to work on it to step forward to C1

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Submitted by vsanchez75 on Thu, 26/10/2023 - 20:57


Of course, Those are good tips but I want to know How can I be more fluent? because I can understood almost all the people but when I try to speak I feel stuck. I have done many test and I could not get B2 or C1. My results have been B1 by my stuck. Help Me

Hi vsanchez75,

We actually have an article about this, called How to improve your English speaking. I hope you find it useful!

But I would also add that like any other skills, speaking is something that you need to do in order to improve so it will be important to look for many and various opportunities to speak English. Perhaps there are also some useful feedback comments from your previous speaking exams or English lessons about particular aspects of speaking that you should focus on improving? Speaking is a big thing with many different aspects (pronunciation, vocabulary, ideas, confidence etc.) so it's best to identify particular areas to work on. Best of luck with it!


LearnEnglish team

Submitted by keanu9000 on Sat, 10/06/2023 - 22:24


Of course any one can feel anxious about speaking English or any foreign language. But how to reduce my fear of speaking is being confident about myself. It’s okay if I did a mistake while I am speaking with someone. Even I allow her or him to correct me if i did some mistakes.

Submitted by JBenavidesMelo on Sat, 06/05/2023 - 15:33


If I feel anxious because I forget a word or if I don't know if I said it properly, I kindly ask for the meaning or feedback and it helps me to improve my English.

Same like me, I feel my mind go blank, may be after conversation I feel more better and recognise what I want to say

Submitted by renata03 on Sat, 06/05/2023 - 15:32


It can be helpful to meet with a trusted friend, who can help you recognize mistakes and correct them. Also, trying to have fun speaking English about things you like can be a good way to practice the language


Submitted by oscardortiz on Sat, 06/05/2023 - 15:31


Hi, speaking it’s difficult for me, what I’m going to do it’s buy an English books and read them loud. Listen English songs and would try to speak in English with my friends

Submitted by paolopez on Sat, 06/05/2023 - 15:31


Yes, I feel anxious when I speak in English trying to think fast, nevertheless i create an image in my mind with the idea and that helps me to spread the message .

Submitted by BritishBahar on Fri, 21/04/2023 - 14:08


that was greate essay. ı agree all of advice.My opinion self-confidence is one of the most important things.İf you try to feel more comportable when you speak english ı am sure that your communication will become fluent and correct. of course if you realize how you advanced you can celebrate your little triumphs.I hope we can go on although whole troubles.