Getting Over Your Self-Conciousness
I have a friend - a really intelligent guy - who wants to learn a language that I study. He’s self-taught, and kept up with it for a very long time, but when opportunities arose to speak it with me, he would often become nervous and be reluctant to participate.
This got me thinking about when I first started learning language as a shy teenager. I would never want to speak with somebody for fear of making a mistake. It wasn’t until I attended high-school in Japan for 5 months, where I was forced to speak to communicate my feelings that I gained the confidence to speak another language.
If you don’t have access to full immersion, don’t worry. I’m going to teach you simple steps that can help you get out of your shell, and communicate in a new foreign language.
Correcting someone can often be considered rude in social situations. Think of toddlers learning to speak their native language, they make mistakes all over the place. Everyone has to start here. The first thing you must do is suppress the ego, and be open to everyone’s advice and corrections. If someone corrects you, don’t get mad. Instead, thank them for their help and remember their advice for the next time you may make the same mistake.
Text is a very slow means of communication, and it is also very deliberate. If you make a mistake writing text, you have time to go back and correct it yourself before sending it to others. Reading and posting using your target language in online chat rooms, such as the Langful forum and chat rooms, can be safe spaces for you to start constructing sentences and receive criticism from others. Searching for various language groups on Discord is another good way to find good online communities to practice. You don’t have to meet these people ever again if you don’t want to, so don’t be embarrassed, but remember to stay kind.
Once you are comfortable with constructing sentences and making mistakes with others in your target language, it may be a good time to try voice-chatting. If you had made friends in the previous step, then they are usually great people with which to start. It can feel awkward at first, but keep trying to express yourself, and eventually you will get there.
Congratulations! You have now become confident enough to speak in your target language. The next step is to go meet people locally. There are usually great language clubs in your city that have like-minded learners. Meetup is a great place to look for those kinds of clubs. Stay safe - make sure to only meet people in public places, and have fun! You’ll be relieved to know that expressing yourself in person is easier than through voice, because you also have your gestures and facial expressions to aid you.
We’ve taught you the tools, but it’s up to you to take action. First, set aside your ego and be open to help, then join an online community, after that try talking online using voice, then finally go meet other learners or native speakers in your local area. Each step may take some time, but we know you can do it.
If you liked this advise, consider sharing it with other language learners you know.