Do you have this common problem?

“My partner has better English than I do.

This makes me feel bad speaking in front of him/her.”

This blog looks at this problem and offers you solutions.

Read on for our 4 best tips to feel good speaking English.

plants in the sun and shade for my partner has better English than me

This Situation is Killing Your English

Not to be too dramatic or anything, but this could be happening:

The partner with the stronger language skills takes the lead in conversational situations.

Over time, the idea that you are ‘bad at English’ gets enforced.

The insidious belief that English is their domain, not yours, grows.

You feel increasingly awkward when it’s your turn to talk in front of your partner. 

It becomes easier to let your partner speak.

You lose your space in English.

plants in the sun and shade for my partner has better English than me

There’s No Magic

Some people are truly gifted language learners (interestingly, they often have a good ear for music too!).

However, the majority of us need to work at it.

Perhaps your partner is very gifted, but it is more likely their past has also included rich childhood language opportunities, more intensive English practice, great schooling or gap year travel experiences.

That’s all.

Fortuitous circumstances – and probably some hard work.

Not magic.

This means that you too can have a space in English conversations, with the right kind of help.

plants in the sun and shade for my partner has better English than me

About Getting Started

The good news is you likely did much of the hard work at school. The real brain-stretching grammar stuff and the memorising irregular verbs.

You haven’t forgotten them, you just don’t relate to them. Yet.

Deciding to make English your own is the hardest step.

It would be easier to ignore it.

(Congratulate yourself, if you are reading this, you have just


plants in the sun and shade for my partner has better English than me

“You are lucky, they can help you”

This is not always true.

Often partners are the last person we want to have teaching us.

(And people saying this makes you feel WORSE!)

Tip 01 | Don’t Let Your Partner Correct Your Errors

It’s not advantageous to have an English-fluent partner if you don’t feel good speaking in front of them.

(And this is really common by the way).

Having a partner correcting your mistakes can make things worse not better.

The result is you grow to fear speaking even more. 

You don’t need to involve your partner in your quest to improve your English (or even tell them that you are working on it). 

However, if you DO:

plants in the sun and shade for my partner has better English than me

Simple Ways Your Partner CAN Help

Set aside a correction zone – that’s a designated space, time or activity in which you welcome your partner’s intervention (like only when you cook together – or while walking in a forest).

Alternatively, ask your partner not to correct your mistakes. Instead, use your partner as someone you ASK when you don’t know how to say something, or when something sounds wrong to your ears.

Unless your partner is a skilled language coach – or incredibly empathetic, I don’t recommend involving him/her more than this.

Language coaches do not correct every error they hear, they identify which ones are most important to work on at that moment – and do so strategically.

Using a second language can make you feel vulnerable.

Having someone leap on your errors will add frustration to the strongest relationship.

Tip 2

One good place to begin would be with a gentle refresher course.

Choose one that is friendly and welcoming – and linked to a hobby or passion you already have, or with international peers.

For example, Blue Noun Language Hub Recommended English Teacher Abigail Fulbrook has a conversation club for mums to practice speaking together.

Learn more

plants in the sun and shade for my partner has better English than me

Tip 3 | Rethink Pronunciation

Many English learners believe that pronunciation is the last thing to work on – something to focus on when you are otherwise perfect  – the cherry on the cake of English speaking, but it’s much more vital than that.

A pronunciation course can reward learners at any level with a massive confidence boost.

If you feel strange or stupid making sounds in English, a top-quality pronunciation course can unlock your willingness to speak – more than months of learning vocabulary or grammar.

Good friend of Blue Noun Language Hub Jennie Reed has pronunciation challenge to get you started!

Learn more.

plants in the sun and shade for my partner has better English than me

Tip 4 | Leave Your Partner (for a week) and Go on Holiday!

To be clear, partners are normally welcome on a Blue Noun Language holiday – but only if that helps YOU to learn.


If your partner’s English inhibits you, it’s time for you to holiday solo. 

Take an English language holiday where you can improve your English (in fun ways) without them.

Do you know that 10 days of an English immersion holiday can give you the equivalent of 1 YEAR of 1-hour-per-week English classes?

These days, you don’t need to waste a holiday inside a classroom either.

There are LOADS of great options.

Choose an immersion experience that gets you exploring the culture and landscape of country you are visiting.

You’ll have a language coach by your side, gently helping you express yourself and correcting any errors.

See our 2024 Language holiday schedule:

Take home more than a duty-free & a tan. 

Take home great English! 

plants in the sun and shade for my partner has better English than me

English Immersion Holidays

Will you return home as good as your partner?

It shouldn’t matter. It’s not a competition or a race. It’s about YOU feeling good in English.

What you will return home with is a desire to speak and be heard – and that’s the key to owning your English.

Imagine enjoying speaking English!

It’s life-changing! 

Further Information

Get external help with your English if you possibly can afford to. 

The BBC  & The British Council both produce great free learning resources if you can’t. 

Try our English Needs Analysis Service to learn what the best next step for you is.