Have you ever tried to speak in a foreign language ... but your mind just went blank?
Then afterwards the words simply came to you?
You are not alone!
Fear of speaking a foreign language is sooo common that psychologists have even given it name: Foreign language anxiety.
According to linguistic Stephen Krashen - one of the foremost experts on how humans naturally learn languages - this anxiety has a strong negative impact on your ability to use a language!
If you want to actually speak in the language you are learning, you will NEED to get over this fear.
However, it's almost never addressed directly in language learning courses!
Today, I'm going to give you some tips for getting over your fear of speaking (without even leaving your house)!
Read more to find out how!
I'd also like to start sharing the stories of other learners. I get to hear your stories with language learning (usually in private e-mail). And you've already gotten to hear my story told 100 different ways. But you haven't gotten to hear each other's stories yet.
Today, we have a guest post from Ilhan - an aerospace engineering student in Munich, Germany and a reader of this blog - sharing his story and talking about his fear of speaking, what causes it along with strategies, advice and thoughts to help overcome it. Enjoy!
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
It was happening again. My hands were shaking. My mouth was dry. I stared at the ground. My shoulders dropped. My head bent in shame. Just five minutes ago I had a great conversation with Francisco, one of my best buddies. The conversation was in Spanish, my “target language” for several years now.
But now my tongue was tied and my mind was cluttered. I couldn’t get a word out in Spanish. Whenever I was spoken to I replied in German. I was ashamed of this fact. What was going on?
Read more to find out!
This is topic widely discussed and disagreed upon in the language learning community. One of biggest advocates of speaking immediately is Benny Lewis, author of the Fluent in 3 Months blog and creator of the Speak From Day 1 video course.
In the FAQ for that product, he writes: (some emphasis added)
Rather than read through the guide and watch all the videos to find out my one major 'secret', I can tell you right now: you need to speak the language immediately.
No years of studying grammar, no expensive and complicated software, no "magic pill" to master a language while you sleep, you just need to speak it. Speak it regularly, speak it confidently, and speak it immediately. The more you speak, the quicker you will improve.
Now, I'm a BIG fan of Benny. He recently gave me the amazing opportunity to write a guest post on his blog.
But in this particular point, I disagree. I don't think you NEED to speak from day one.
Read more to find out why!
No matter how well you know a language, you can't communicate with anyone if you're afraid to use it.
While it might not seem like this has anything to do with language learning, this is a problem that affects a lot of people. Even me!
For a long a time, I was afraid to speak the languages I was learning (Polish and Russian). I still have trouble getting the courage to speak in certain situations (ex. on the telephone) or with certain people. It isn't something that I got over immediately, but I've slowly improved over several years.
Read more to learn how I got over my fear of speaking and how you can too!