How to Learn English if You're Shy

I reached out to my Instagram followers and they had some good advice on learning English as a shy person.

They said that they:

  • Follow people on social media, read English books and listen to podcasts

  • Read everything I see in English and listen to how people talk

This is great advice for learning without leaving your comfort zone. However, they haven’t mentioned speaking! For many people, this is the most important part of learning a language.

I also spoke with my student, Catia, who had some fantastic advice.

  1. Improve your confidence – it’s the most important thing. Overcome the fear of speaking and then you’ll improve. Practising speaking a foreign language will help you improve speaking in your native language too.

  2. Speak. Make mistakes. Don’t worry about what other people think. Just be yourself.

  3. Native speakers make mistakes too. When you start speaking with them you’ll notice this. Did you get an A in your native language exam? If so, that’s great! If you didn’t, you can see my point?

My Personal Experience

I used to be very shy – too shy to pick up the phone and talk to my friends. After many years of practice, I’m have improved and have made great progress overcoming this. I still have some way to go but I’ve definitely learnt that making mistakes is not a big deal in foreign languages.

My Advice

Small increments of change will amount to a lot over time.

Make a small goal every day. Don’t reach for the stars.

If possible, say one English word to someone every time you go out.

If you’re not in a situation to speak English, maybe even try your native language!

Get comfortable going to English restaurants or something similar and start with just a hello and as you keep returning there you’ll be able to manage more. (maybe go with friends too because you will want to show off your English to them!)

Most people will be very impressed if you know some words. Just let them know you’re learning and they’ll be patient

Also, I would recommend…

Begin with online teachers. You can feel very comfortable in your own home.

Most online teachers know how you feel – the first time they teach is the same – very scary!

English In The Media

Chernobyl – TV Series

You’re treading on dangerous ground

= doing something that’s likely to cause upset or problems for people

The people’s lust for revenge (which is something really really dangerous) it makes it very attractive to find scapegoats. As to throw meat to the dogs.

= Lust for revenge – a strong desire to do something bad to a bad person

= Scapegoat – someone to blame for a problem

= Throw meat to the dogs – giving them what they want

Today’s Expression:

To come out of one’s shell

Listen to the end of the podcast to find out what this means.

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10 thoughts on “#8 Learning English As A Shy Person”

  1. Hello Michael. When I went to school, teachers didn’t teach me how to speak English (or any other foreign language). The most important things were words and grammar, but I was not taught how to use them together.
    When I was saying something, the teacher interrupted me because I said something wrong. He/she embarrassed me. As a result, I closed myself off and didn’t say anything. Today I still don’t speak English. 🙁

    1. I’m sorry to hear that! It can take a moment to break confidence, but many years to work up the courage to overcome shyness. Keep it up and I hope you’re able to get speaking confidence soon.

  2. Ku Harmi Ku Ahmad

    Hi Michael. Can u recommend free online teacher? I think it’s 1 best way improving English conversation.

    1. Hello, I don’t think there’s such thing as a “free online teacher”. We wouldn’t ask for a free haircut or a free taxi ride, and I think online teachers also deserve to be paid for their work.
      A language partner would probably be more suitable. If you want more information on how to find a language partner, I summarised my advice in a short YouTube video on my channel. I hope it helps!

      1. I agree with you Michael. I am an online teacher. Even though I make a living out of teaching online I always recommend a language partner. Once you feel comfortable with that partner you become more relaxed and don’t overthink how to say something correctly. Eventually, correcting yourself and the sentences you build becomes second nature.

  3. I agree with you Michael, l was feeling uncomfortable before the first lesson we had.
    As you said, teachers understand feeling of students in the first lesson and help them to make feelings better

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