Does the fear of saying the wrong words hold you back when you travel abroad? You’re not alone!
There are plenty of people like you, fully capable of learning and thriving in another language, but too afraid to do so. We think that’s incredibly unfortunate. Most of us learn the basics of another language already when we’re very young, and in school. But things take time, and unfortunately learning another language isn’t always like riding a bicycle; if you want to be good at it, you need to maintain it.
Though it breaks our heart when people are too afraid to speak a language, It’s no wonder why some folk are hiding behind their mother tongues and travelling to resorts where the staff speak their language. In our modern society there’s an ever- increasing focus on doing things ‘the right way’. There seem to be a common consensus that if you can’t do things right, you shouldn’t even try. We think that’s a horrible way to look at things! Just like the little engine that could, so can you!
Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day
Learning a new language and becoming a confident communicator takes time, and making mistakes is a vital part of learning. Though it can burn a little to be corrected – it’s an almost guaranteed way to improve.
Babies born in Barcelona don’t come out fluent in Spanish. Nor do babies born in England bid the world welcome in Queen’s English. It takes years to develop fluency, even when you’re born into a language.
Use your fears
Fear in this case, is mostly a good thing. It’s a sign that you’re stepping outside your comfort zone, and that’s where the magic happens.
We’re not saying spend your holidays with sweaty palms and trembling legs. We’re saying, try to get to the bottom of your fears (preferably before you go abroad), and then figure out what you’re going to do about it.
Is your vocabulary lacking? Do you have problems understanding? Is it a confidence problem? Find your wall, then climb it.
Practise makes perfect
“Self-confidence is the memory of success.” David Storey
There’s only one way to become really good at something, and that is to practise. Native speakers will often admire your efforts and help you out if you’ve made a mistake, or if you’re stuck in a sentence. If someone’s being rude, count to three and walk away.
Remember to practise your weaknesses as well as your strengths. When you get good at something, it boosts your motivation. So make sure you develop your strengths even further. The people that pick up languages really fast, are the people that keep trying again and again until they get it right.
Smile and wave
A smile is a smile in all languages, and a smile usually means well. If you initiate conversations with a smile and a genuine interest in someone’s language and culture, you’ll most likely get a positive response.
Remember that a mistake is not the end of the world, take a few steps back and keep your chin up. 3 years from now it’ll be a funny story, so why not just laugh at it now? Learning to laugh at yourself is healthy, and it can make it a lot less awkward both for you and the person you’re talking to.
Use your language
Whether you talk to yourself, chat to likeminded language explorers, attempt to order your lunch in Italian or attend a karaoke doesn’t matter, as long as you use your language skills. If you use your oral skills and work on your listening, we can almost promise you that you’ll improve your confidence.
The main lesson comes down to one that is taught already in primary school these days, you shouldn’t be saying ‘I can’t do that’, you should say ‘I can’t do that yet’. Changing your attitude, improving your weaknesses, and developing your strenghts will help you overcome your fears of speaking a foreign language.
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