Conversations in another language

Two people talking

Having conversations in a language you're learning can be fun, difficult, scary and ... well, many different things, both positive and negative! 

We asked the LearnEnglish team how they feel having conversations in other languages.

When I first arrived in Spain, I'd already learned French while living in Paris, so I knew what I had to do! I wasn't so embarrassed the second time round. I knew I had to have thousands of awkward, slow and weird conversations, and make millions of mistakes. Sometimes I felt stupid, or as if I had to act like a clown to get the message across. But I also loved the challenge. And when a conversation in Spanish worked, I felt so competent and cool! After all that effort, actually connecting with people in Spanish was the best feeling ever. 
Jo G

I'm learning Cantonese and Korean. The ability to have conversations in those languages is a huge motivation for me! It's more important to me than reading or writing. I want to be able to express my ideas and understand other people very easily. I struggle a lot right now, but I think that with more practice, I will one day be able to do it.

I love to chat in English (my first language)! 🙂 But when I try and have a conversation in Italian, I have a terrible tendency to nod a lot and – I mean a lot but – I've not necessarily understood everything, and that can get me into all sorts of trouble! I know I should check that I've understood, but I'm often too embarrassed.

For me, the funny thing about having conversations in a different language is that some days it works better than others. There are some days when I can hear myself making loads of mistakes – my grammar is all wrong and I'm not finding the words I want. But then other days, it all comes out right and I'm using expressions I didn't even know I knew! The bad days can be slightly depressing, but on the good days, it feels great! 

I think the important thing is to not worry about making mistakes. If people understand you, that's enough at first. Later you can work on making fewer mistakes – but in the early days the main thing is to be brave and to try and talk to as many people as possible. At home we speak a mixture of Catalan, Spanish and English. Sometimes there's the perfect word in one language which doesn’t exist in the other language, so we often use a combination of languages depending on what we're talking about! 
Jo B

There are two main languages where I live: Catalan and Spanish. I speak both well, but I have a much better accent in Catalan than in Spanish. Sometimes people don't realise I'm not a native speaker of Catalan, which makes me feel good! But I'm still much more comfortable speaking English and grateful to be able to speak it with friends and colleagues. One thing I find fascinating is what linguists call code-switching, which is when a person is speaking one language but then switches into another for a moment. People do it all the time here!

If you're looking for ways to boost your English speaking skills, read this article for tips on how to improve your fluency, pronunciation, accuracy and conversation skills.

What about you?

  • Do you have many opportunities for English conversations?
  • How do you feel having a conversation in English?


Average: 5 (2 votes)

Submitted by Esme_ on Thu, 13/07/2023 - 05:35


Hi there,
Now, to me speak with others is easier, but it wasn't thus.
Few time ago it was a big challenge because I was thinking all the time what to say and trying to not make a mistake
Now I feel really confident than before.

Submitted by Amal_nasr 66 on Sat, 08/07/2023 - 18:49


I take English and German courses, but I like to speak English more than German. I'm taking a summer course in English at the British council. I think that the British council is a very good opportunity to make a good conversation with your new friends. I feel so happy and excited to make a conversation in English.

Submitted by Maanan51 on Fri, 30/06/2023 - 18:28


Hi everyone.
For me having a conversation in English means lots of things, one them is that i would make many mistakes , but I had to learn that it's part of this journey and there no other chance: Having fun while learning from my mistakes.
Recently in these days I entered to some discord foreign servers where I can talk with different people from over the world and share experiences as I feel confident and help them to reach the same goals.

Submitted by Andres115 on Fri, 23/06/2023 - 21:57


I´ve never had a oportunity to speak in english, but everyday try to speak by myself and read articules, listen to music, watch podcast in english, but i´ll glad if one day have the oportunity to speak with a native speaker, because i realised when you speak the brain start to think in english and come in all the things that you´ve learnt.

Profile picture for user Forsakenx

Submitted by Forsakenx on Fri, 16/06/2023 - 18:00


Well, I rly dont have a huge level of opportunities in my country, it's sanctioned, ppl hate here any stuff related to English. I dunno what's their problem, but it exists. But im trying my best using English everywhere. I even turned on my workzone to English.
Im feeling good with conversation on English if I talk with guys speaking clearly, u know. Other accents or wrong pronunciations I just cant get.
I cant really sure that I feel confidence during my speech, here a few reasons:
1) I could forget a word on English and trying to translate it to my native lang;
2) I cant use my knowledge of grammar in full. Im stucking with easy tenses.
I do hope I'll change it for better.

Hello Forsakenx,

It sounds like you're really determined to improve, which is really important! I'd encourage you to keep up your efforts and energy.

Sometimes people forget it, but if one thing is certain it's that if you don't make the effort to speak, you won't improve!

Best wishes -- Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by gosia_czech on Thu, 08/06/2023 - 08:39


Personally I don't have a lot of opportunities for an English conversation, cause In Poland where I currently live, majority of people speak Polish. But I've been thinking about trying to find some English speakers online to practise.

I don't struggle with having a conversation in English, I feel rather confident in it. I always preferred talking rather than writing when I was learning. I vividly remember that I used to talk in English with my some of my friends at school - back when I lived in Norway since, we all preferred to talk in this language cause we could express ourselves more easily.

Hi gosia_czech,

Thanks for your comment! Please feel free to use the Learning Hub to communicate with other people - you can listen to someone's voice message and then record a message for them to listen to. It's not quite the same as having a live conversation, but it could be fun practice to connect with someone in a different part of the world.

Best wishes,

Jo (LearnEnglish team)

Submitted by Janny TSANG on Wed, 07/06/2023 - 18:04


I have studied Japanese for about 2 years, and then I went to Japan to climb mountains. Once I wanted to take a bus back to the city, but it was getting dark, and I was afraid that I would not be able to catch the last bus. I asked the locals, and they said it would take about an hour. Then, they want to chat with me, but they know that I can't chat with them easily, so they talk to me in simple language. I figured they had the same hobby as me, which was hiking, so it was easy for me to talk to them. The next day, I went hiking again, and when I took the train up the mountain, I wanted to talk to someone, yes, I could, because she and I had something in common, we were on the same road. Anyway, I have a great opportunity to improve my Japanese.

That's a great story, Janny, thanks for sharing that! People who are willing to speak slowly and simply are so helpful when you're learning another language, and of course it's great when you share an interest together.

Young children can be really good people to talk to as well. They're a lot more patient and care about communication, not grammar!

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by ldanielars on Wed, 07/06/2023 - 16:16


Where I live, we only speak Spanish, so I don’t get a lot of chance to speak English. But I found other alternatives, like participating in English conversation clubs in local universities and with my brother in law, he is an English native speaker.

Since I was in high school, I took English lessons to improve my skills in a second language. At the time, I felt shy about making mistakes in front of native speakers, but that’s changed, and now I’m working on it. I have improved a lot, and I try to speak without feeling embarrassed when I get the chance, but it is always challenging. In my opinion, I have understood that the only way to improve English speaking skills is to overcome my fears and take risks.

Submitted by CINZIA VALENTI on Wed, 07/06/2023 - 15:42


As far as I stopped working I don't have quite any chances of speaking in English. It rarely happens when tourists ask for information on a train or in a shop and I feel quite unease if they speak fast and I can't understand everything. Unfortunately I don't feel confortable using web conversation platforms because I'm quite wary and I prefer face to face conversations. In any case I keep on surfing on your interesting web site. Have you got any advice?

Hello Cinzia,

If you can't speak much with other people, then another strategy would be to focus on your listening skills until you have more opportunities to speak. Half of speaking is listening, after all, so the better your listening comprehension is, the easier it will be to talk with people. You'll still need to practise actually saying things, of course, but improving your listening should help.

There are also a few short articles that you might find useful on our Improve your English level page: Five tips for busy learners: listening and speakingHow to improve your English speaking and How to reduce anxiety when speaking English.

Hope this helps you.

LearnEnglish team

Hello Kirk,
Thanks for your suggestion on listening as the other strategy when there are no opportunities to speak English.

Submitted by Nadbuc on Tue, 06/06/2023 - 16:57


I think the English is the best language in the world becouse is an universal language. I haven't any opportunities for English conversations becouse I haven't English friends or foreing.
My only opportunity is this English course! I enjoy it! when i have an English conversation I feel gratefully to can do it, but somethimes I feel embarrassed becouse I do a lot of mistakes. For the final motivation I didn't ever learn correctly and seriously this language.
But doesn't it ever late!

Submitted by User_1 on Sat, 03/06/2023 - 15:37


I agree with Jo: "when people talk really fast, there's no space in the conversation" and the quality goes down.
Although conversation helps to connect with other people, at the same time, both being understood by others and understanding others is never easy.
Even more, having a conversation in English and being understood requires great effort.
The fear of making mistakes can block the flow of thoughts, even if talking in English should enjoy.
Who from the team knows this feeling?

Profile picture for user angelost

Submitted by angelost on Thu, 01/06/2023 - 00:11


Do you have many opportunities for English conversations?
Unfortunately not,. In Brazil we don't have many opportunities to speak english. Sometimes i trying use plataforms to training conversation, but i would like find other spaces, present spaces.

How do you feel having a conversation in English?
Sometimes i'm feel confident, sometimes ridiculous, depend on the contexto. When i speak english with a nativer, i'm feel good, but if i speak with brazilian i'm feel judged.

Hi angelost,

It seems like a good idea to find some face-to-face conversation opportunities. Personally, I find it harder to communicate on digital platforms than in real life. Do you prefer face-to-face communication as well?


LearnEnglish team

Submitted by erika19 on Tue, 30/05/2023 - 16:11


I am an English teacher and try to talk only English with my Italian middle school students and it is not always so easy for me to be understood, so sometimes I use Italian as a vehicular language. When I have a conversation with adults I am a little bit embarassed and I make stupid mistakes, just because I don't feel confident...

Hi erika19,

Everyone makes mistakes sometimes (including stupid ones), and we have highs and lows of confidence. But it's quite understandable that this happens, isn't it, if having English conversations is not something that you have the chance to do regularly. I hope you will have more chances to have some enjoyable English conversations in the future!

Despite those feelings that you mentioned, do you enjoy talking in English?


LearnEnglish team