Expressing yourself using words is a beautiful thing. Being able to do it using foreign languages is an extraordinary achievement. Some people find it more difficult to start communicating in a language other than their mother tongue to express themselves.
This post is for those who have some basic knowledge of a foreign language but are still struggling to overcome the fear of speaking!
I mean let’s face it, it can be overwhelming. After observing plenty of such cases as a teacher of English to speakers of other languages, I have come up with some strategies to get past your fears and speak in the target language freely.
The feeling of being judged, fear of making mistakes, or sounding funny are legitimate points, however, they are preventing you from living up to your true potential.
The first thing you should do is to start working on changing your mindset. Obviously not believing in your ability to speak is not going to help at all, right? So, what should I do, you may ask?
Consider the tips below!
1. Develop an abundance mindset.
Don’t get caught up in the moment and focus on the limitless opportunities available. There will always be a bad side of things but if you ignore it and focus on the positive side of things you can achieve things you never thought you could.
Regarding the language you have chosen to speak, you should recognize and focus on what you know already, rather than on what you don’t know. Of course, there are numerous things that you might not know but that’s OK. Nobody was born knowing it all, we all learned.
So, remember to use existing knowledge, such as vocabulary and grammar. Saying anything is better than saying nothing, wouldn’t you agree?
Then comes the second part.
2. Overcoming fear and shyness
Accept the idea that the person you are about to speak to are not there to judge you or make fun of you. They are there to hear your thoughts and ideas. They are interested in you as a person.
One effective method is to build yourself up. Positive self-talk has been proven to help people overcome their shyness.
Picture yourself talking freely in the target language, expressing ideas, chatting about your favorite topic. The brain can do amazing things once it has been provided with the end result, the steps before will just fall into place and slowly you will notice that you are not even trying anymore.
I am well aware that right after the self-talk, its arch-enemy starts appearing; second-guessing yourself. Please resist the temptation to flight, stay and FIGHT.
3. Go for it before thinking.
The brain tends to think before we speak, this may lead to overthinking, and fear kicks in. One way to prevent that is to just speak before you think. I am sure this may be a shocker to you but hey, if you allow your thoughts to come out freely you will block the feeling of being shy, and overwhelmed.
Do not focus on mistakes as being “bad”, focus on them being “good”.
“The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake – you can’t learn anything from being perfect” – Adam Osborn
4. Focus on the person you are talking to
This method will help take the pressure off of you. When you are occupied with what the person is saying and you are paying attention then it is more likely to not overthink your answer. Words and ideas will flow freely with or without mistakes and frankly this is what we are striving for. Expressing yourself in a foreign language freely.
A step further for the bold ones is to ask to be corrected by people you believe are more knowledgeable. You will gain valuable feedback on some mistakes by practicing at the same time.
To recap about speaking in a foreign language
Just to remind you before you go, here are the 4 strategies that will help you to successfully speak in a foreign language.