Hi there, this is Cédric from MosaLingua! Today I’d like to speak about the fear of speaking when learning a foreign language and how to break free from it. For many of us language learners, our ultimate goal is to be able to communicate fluently in our target language. And yet, we all suffer from some embarrassment when it comes time to open up and practice what we’ve learnt. And this is frustrating enough to make some of us give up our dreams to become fluent. Feelings of embarrassment are totally normal, and part of the journey toward the mastery of a foreign language, but they are also possible to overcome. Today I’d like to share 4 tips for getting over your fears!
How to Overcome the Fear of Speaking
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4 Tips for Facing Your Fear of Speaking
1) Use a step-by-step approach to make gradual progress
Some brave people can open their mouths without thinking too much of it, but the majority of us need time and preparation. If you get paralyzed just by the thought of speaking in a foreign language with a stranger, why not…try writing instead? An excellent way to build your confidence and thus lower your anxiety levels at the beginning is to establish the first contact through written messages only.
Once you’re OK with that, the next step will be to send a recorded audio message, so you can practice without the pressure of a live conversation. This will make you feel more comfortable. Below you’ll find some links to some apps and platforms you can use to chat and send voice messages to native speakers.
2) Find a language partner
The next step after chatting is obviously to go live and video-calling a language partner. We find it hard to speak at the beginning because we expect natives to get impatient or bored when talking to us. Though not everyone will, it is true that you may experience that every now and again when you are first starting out.
This is why it is always better to practice with a fellow learner! You’ll be less anxious because you know that the other person is facing some of these same fears. Instead of judging you, they will probably encourage you, and you will likely get more and better corrections and advice. There are plenty of free services online, so you can find your language partner right now.
3) Hack your first conversations to feel more prepared and confident
We are all afraid there will be awkward moments during the conversation when we don’t understand something or we don’t know what to say. This might seem obvious, but we often forget it:conversations always follow the same patterns. When you meet someone, you always say the same things (in your native language as well). So why not prepare a conversation script that includes recurrent expressions? Once you have practiced your script a few times, you’ll know how to answer and you will feel more ready… and nobody can stop you from taking your notes with you in case you need to peek at them (especially if you are having a conversation on Skype).
And another thing: if you don’t understand, it’s not the end of the world. Just memorize a few key phrases like: “I did not understand that” or “Can you repeat that please?” or “Can you speak more slowly please?” Your language partner will rephrase, slow down and help you understand, and everything will be fine!
4) Always prepare your conversations ahead of time
You will also need other small wins to start building your self-confidence. And the best way to do that is to always prepare for all your conversations. You will always achieve more if you know what you are going to talk about. Choose a conversation topic in advance, such as a specific subject you know your partner will be interested in.
The next step will be to prepare notes on the vocabulary, the expressions and sentences that you will need. There is nothing worse than a pause in the conversation to make you feel embarrassed. So include some backups that you know very well, even if it means changing the subject. You can also mix in expressions that you’ve just learned in order to practice them in context and kill two birds with one stone.
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