In my first couple of days in Japan, I was out drinking with some English friends.
There were some Japanese people in the bar, and naturally we were keen to meet some of the locals and have a chat and maybe share a beer or two. We were quite lucky in that one of the guys in the groups was not only really fun and friendly, he also spoke quite good English (well, I think the beer helped a little). When we had finished it was decided we would go to karaoke.
My friends and I of course knew about this Japanese tradition and were eager to try it in its real country. So we all got on the train.
The shocking thing was that this fun, friendly, English speaking Japanese salary man suddenly told us not to speak English to him on the train. He was embarrassed that other people may hear him speaking English. Wow.
Now luckily things have changed a lot over the past few years. But some people still believe that they should not speak English because other people think of them as being a show off.
There is only one reason that people would think like that: they are jealous.
Admittedly if you went around saying “I'm great at English, look how bad you are.” then they probably have a point. But people who say bad things about people who speak English are merely jealous that they cannot speak themselves.
Secretly, deep down they respect you for speaking English and they indeed want to become like you themselves. Even the harshest critic really respects you for speaking English and wishes to be like you. So don't hide your lantern under a bushel, if you have the chance, use your English. This is your life and you alone decide how and when you speak and in what language.
Don't let what other people think stop you achieving your potential. Speak up and be proud to speak English.
And don't think this is just about being Japanese and being shy is OK. It's not. In Japan we love winners and people who have special skills.
Look at the Olympics when Japanese athletes win medals, everyone appreciates their special skills、 applauds their success and wishes them well. Or when Japanese scientists win Noble prizes, again everyone is proud of what they achieved, looks up to them and feels inspired to become great themselves.
It's the same with you and English. If you can speak English and the people around you see this, then they will look up to you, admire and respect you. They'll be proud to know you and the people around you will be inspired by your abilities and want to become great speakers themselves.
Be a role model, be an inspiration for others.