How many people really demonstrate confidence speaking foreign languages...? Not many.
We feel is it true to say that most people get nervous when speaking foreign languages. This is usually because they feel they don’t know enough words, they haven’t perfected their grammar or because whenever they have to speak to someone they feel pressured to say something in a 100% correct manner. It is normal to feel a bit insecure when learning a foreign language but don’t let it stop you. Let’s begin!
1. Don’t be shy
It is only natural to make mistakes and we shouldn’t be embarrassed. Realise that humans are usually nervous when meeting new people for the first time and speaking your target foreign language typically means a first-time meeting. The other person is probably just as nervous as you are. This kind of perspective shift will help you ground you into the moment and remember that not every human in the world has perfect confidence. It might be a little awkward, but you’ll get through it.
On the other hand, we shouldn’t be shy to start a conversation with someone who speaks the language as that’s one of the main ways to actually get fluent.
2. Have an arsenal of phrases guaranteed to spark small talk.
When you meet someone for the first time, it can be hard to make decent conversation even in your native language.
In order to avoid awkward pauses have an arsenal of 10-15 conversation starters in your target language memorized and ready. Practice them with friends who speak your native language to get them locked into conversational memory and practice them out loud to yourself if it helps.
A couple examples of small talk would be the basics of “Where are you from?”, “How old are you?”, or “Do you have any brothers and sisters?” Choose one you’re really comfortable starting with, and expand on it.
3. Be creative!
When speaking a foreign language we sometimes struggle to express ourselves because we just don’t remember a certain word or saying. Don’t worry. It doesn’t matter if you don’t remember the exact word just try to explain yourself and be creative with the vocabulary and grammar you do know. For instance, if you forget how to say “chair” in your target language just try explain what the object is and what it is used for and everybody will understand you! At the end, when speaking, what’s important is people understanding you and you getting your point across no matter what happens so, be creative and use those things you remember to explain yourself!
4. Speak, speak, and speak!
It might sound silly but speaking your target language is the best way to actually get confident with it. Obviously, the more you practise the more comfortable you will feel with the vocabulary and grammar you know so, speaking is definitely one of the most important things to do to get confident when using a foreign language.
Talk to your friends, children, parents or even to yourself! What matters is that you take all of your skills and knowledge and you put them to use so that you feel more self-confident and comfortable when speaking any language.
5) Listen and pay attention!
Listening to other people talk will help you improve your language skills and, as a result, you will feel more confident when starting a conversation.
Many people feel insecure when they speak a foreign language because they feel they don’t know enough to make others understand them. No matter what your level, listening to others will help you get the flow of the language and pick up the way people speak and express themselves.
You don’t need to meet with native people who speak the language, you can simply do it by putting a movie on or watching a TV series in the target language. Soon you will feel you know the language better and you will feel more confident when you next need to speak. Of course, take into account that getting confident and comfortable when speaking a foreign language might take some time but the wait is definitely worth it!
These tips are just stepping stones for you to use as mini shots of confidence to aid you on your language learning journey.
Confidence will become real the more you practice the language.