This article explores non-native English-speaking students' emotional security and dignity responses to their English language proficiency in an Australian context. Confidence is a source of emotional security bolstering dignity. Without it, students lack emotional security, diminishing their dignity when communicating with culturally different others. Emotional security and dignity have a synergistic relationship, in that lack of confidence emotionally threatens one's face, identity and dignity. The study offers insights that help us to understand how international students' psychological well-being is affected by English performance.