There’s no denying that learning a foreign language is difficult, and when it comes to speaking in the language, it can be extremely daunting. I remember walking into my first-ever Spanish class at university only to discover that half of my class were already fluent in multiple languages. It’s safe to say I felt out of my depth!
At first the thought of speaking in Spanish terrified me; not only were my vocabulary and grammar very limited, but I had never spoken another language before. Despite my initial apprehension I was determined to overcome my fear, and by adopting a few simple strategies I have been able to build my confidence and develop at my own pace. So, I thought I would share a few tips with you in the hope that you find them useful too.
Firstly, remember it is OK to make mistakes and that you should embrace them. This sounds obvious, but when it comes to language learning we often aim for perfection and feel as though we are not ready to speak until we have ‘enough’ words or grammatical knowledge. The truth is you will never feel ready, and instead it is important to use the knowledge that you do have to communicate what you can.
This leads on to my next tip: don’t compare yourself to others. This can be a hard one, especially if you are in a large language class. It is important to remember that we all learn at different speeds and through different styles of learning. By all means, keep up with your class material, but do not stress if you don’t understand everything – especially in the early stages.
Something that really helped me progress was finding a patient language exchange partner. Finding someone to practise with whose level of English was similar to my level of Spanish made me feel much more confident.
Lastly, celebrate the small successes and remember how far you have come! Instead of focusing on how far you have to go, focus on the progress you have already made and be proud of your achievements!
Do you have any tips for getting over fears about speaking another language? What has helped you build your confidence?