You don’t need to apologise for this

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Do you find yourself saying, “I’m sorry for my bad English” in a lot of situations?

Now it may not be those exact words, but in essence, you’re apologising for your lack of fluency or proficiency in English.

As a person who teaches English as a second language, I don’t believe it’s necessary to apologise to others if you think your English is poor.

Speaking and writing in English is a skill, and if it’s your second (or third or fourth) language, it’s normal to have room for improvement.

When I talked about this in a live video, there were a few people in the comments who didn’t agree with me. They said that when you apologise for your poor English, you’re being polite.

I understand what they mean by that. And I understand why you may feel like you need to apologise.

Maybe you feel bad for the person you’re speaking to. Maybe you feel like you’re wasting their time because it’s such a struggle for you to speak clearly and for them to understand you.

If that’s the case, and you feel that you do need to acknowledge your lack of proficiency, instead of saying “sorry”, I want you to try saying this instead:

“I’m not very fluent in English. Thank you for your patience.”

OR

“I’m not very fluent in English. Thank you for your understanding.”

That way, you’re replacing “sorry” with “thank you”. It sounds more empowering when you’re not apologising. And you’re showing gratitude to your listeners by thanking them!

So if you were to ask me, only say “sorry” when you’ve made a real mistake or when you owe someone an apology.

Do you want to speak English with confidence?

Sign up to join our free video training, Speaking with Confidence. We’ll send you seven tips to your email address!

Here’s Tip 1 for a sneak peek of what’s in store for you.

Hi there!

We’re Azimah, Amnah and Aisya from Malaysia. We created My English Matters as a digital platform to help Malaysians and second language learners with their English proficiency.

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