Are you learning a foreign language? Are you comfortable to get into conversation with native speakers or scared of mistakes? Here are some tips for speaking more confidently.
1. Dare to make mistakes
It sounds strange, doesn’t it? Mistake is your good friend. Yah, it’s true. When you want to speak right, you have to be wrong a few times. Mistake helps us recognize the holes of our knowledge and then we correct it, we’ll get better at that language.
I had used to afraid of speaking to foreigner before. I remember my first conversation in English or it was the first time I talked to foreigner when I had chance to be with American tourists all day. It was just the simple phrase “My name is Phuong”, I couldn’t pronounce right and I was so scared, I sweated, my heart beat so hard. A thousand questions came to my mind, such as:
What if they can’t understand me?
My pronunciation is so poor, do they want to talk to me?
Will they laugh at me?
Do I look silly when I speak English?
What if I can’t understand what they say?
These questions made me less confident and I didn’t talk to them much.
That situation was repeated when I was exchange student in Russia. I had learned Russian for two years before I came there, but I didn’t have any opportunities to have a real conversation with Russian people. When I heard real Russian people spoke Russian, I even couldn’t understand what they were talking about. The sound was strange for me, so in two first months I decided not to speak Russian, for that I wouldn’t be embarrassed.
With my third foreign language, when I got wiser and had more experiences in learning languages, I realized that the best way to learn language faster is feel free to make mistake and dare to speak, especially when I have chance to live in the country where people speak that language. I spoke Finnish, even my Finnish was too poor. When people didn’t understand me, because of my pronunciation or the wrong grammar, I was willing to repeat what I said again or explained it in another way. In case people speak to me in English, I always answer “NO” to their question ” Do you speak English?” and I get more chances to listen and speak Finnish and get rid of my fear.
What I realized is native speakers are so glad to hear foreigner speak their language. When I was on my vacation in Greece, I learned the phrases ” kalimera = good morning”, “kalispera= good afternoon, good evening” and I was so excited to say it everywhere and Greek people were really happy and responded with big smile on their face. At first time I didn’t know that Greek language has stress like in Russian, but I got that when I heard people reply to me. Once in the morning, I think I was sleepy, I said “kalispera” to the cooker and he laughed at my mistake a little bit, then replied me “kalimera”, I woke up and say thank to his correct. I was grateful for that, and didn’t feel bad at making mistake anymore.
2. Learn right phrases at first
Vocabulary is important but phrases make you perfect at that language. When you learn common phrases, you can use them immediately to respond to people and you don’t waste your time to think of which word is suitable in this situation or in that situation. You’ll speak more naturally and faster.
You can learn phrases by watching movie, YouTube videos. There are various kinds of books in bookstore, find some with conversation or common phrases in the language that you are learning with a CD, so you can listen and repeat to it. Or you can also get them easily on YouTube.
Reading is always a good way to learn awesome phrases. You can read translated manga to see how usual speech is like, read books that you’re interested in or blog posts or whatever that makes you feel happy to read.
Remember to take note when you find them, highlight them with pen or write them to sticky note and pin them up on the wall, fridge or somewhere that you can see them everyday. I always write to my notebook and take them everywhere and have a look when I have time on the bus.
Practice is always a best way to learn languages. It helps you get used to the language. Especially with such languages as Russian, Finnish, German in which verbs depend on personal pronouns.
When someone corrects you, just feel happy for that, then take note, repeat out loud corrected phrase at least 20 times, then you will remember it forever.
Feel free to talk to native speaker when you get chance. It makes you more confident. If you speak English well and you are learning another language, so you should try to forget English to speak new language.
Write down all your corrected phrases to your notebook and use them to write something on Italki or your diary, it’s also help you remember faster and longer.
A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying… that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.
OK, this is all my tips to avoid making mistakes, how about you?