Learning and actually speaking in another language is a pretty big deal. It’s a massive change for you in so many ways and massive changes can be scary. Check out these 3 ways to overcome your fear of speaking Spanish…
When you are embarking on learning a new language, you instantly feel like a child again: you lack the words to express yourself and must struggle to put up a face of dignity while being intensely self-critical of your language abilities.
Your perception is also that the other person you are speaking with is judging you, that your mistakes are making you look dumb, and that your inability to communicate well somehow reflects a lack of self-worth.
A voice in your head says something along the lines of “don’t speak, you’ll come across as stupid,” and, often, especially as a beginner, you tend to obey that internal little voice. Even worse, we imagine others are believing you are stupid when you speak and that talking to you is a pain.
However, you can never progress as a serious student of Spanish unless you venture out in social situations and actively use the language you’ve been learning. When you find yourself trapped in self-doubt, you must move forward, exert self-confidence and become a proficient foreign language speaker who is daily conquering the small obstacles to Spanish fluency.
Beginners are not the only ones susceptible to these moments of vulnerability, more advanced speakers get tripped up with intimidating social situations and suffer from moments of feeling unintelligent.
Don’t fear – whether you are a beginner or an advanced student, here are 3 ways to overcome your fear of speaking Spanish so that you can communicate with dignity.
1. Accept the Fear
You may believe that fluent speakers of Spanish don’t experience fear, that one day you’ll have accumulated enough language knowledge to not be scared of being judged negatively when you speak. The truth is that more experienced speakers, and even native speakers of Spanish, can feel intimidated by the act of communicating in the foreign language.
Fear is a fact of life and when you count yourself among those who regularly make an effort to master their fear, you are well on your way to significantly advancing in your mastery of the foreign language.
Mark Twain once said that courage is the resistance of fear, not the absence of fear. Facing your fear on a daily basis is the path to overcoming it, and as you do so, you will realize that the monsters you imagined were never real and created by your own imagination.
So start by taking small steps in leaving your comfort zone by practicing Spanish with native speakers. With practice, you will realize that it’s no big deal after all.
2. Embrace Speaking Spanish as a Fun, Daily Habit
Practiced learners of Spanish understand you have to apply what you study in daily life and create genuine experiences with the language. The best method of doing this is to practice the language in a practical, fun and convenient manner.
The more you embrace practicing Spanish in your daily life, the easier it will be to find your inner courage to speak it. This is where traditional methods of learning the language can work against you. Traditional methods typically focus too much on grammar while placing little emphasis on the experience of learning Spanish in a live action environment.
Some methods for actively learning Spanish are: listening to Spanish music and Spanish podcasts, watching movies and TV in the language, and engaging with native speakers online and in person.
When you start learning Spanish in an actionable way on a daily basis, you will experience the following:
• You will start feeling calm and relaxed in social situations despite not understanding everything.
• The Spanish learning process gets easier as you grow accustomed to the rhythms and sounds of the language.
• You will grow more enthused about the learning process as you participate in more and more authentic learning experiences.
3. Master Greetings and Goodbyes
A terrific way to overcome your fear of speaking Spanish is to master your hellos and goodbyes beyond the simplest forms of opening and ending a conversation.
Your greetings and goodbyes are used in every face-to-face situation and when you become practiced enough in starting and ending a conversation, you experience moments of perfect comprehension, which makes all the difference for your confidence level.
If you can make a reliably solid first and final impression when you connect with a person at the beginning and end of a conversation, you’re more likely to tap into your inner sense of confidence that will slowly extend to the rest of the conversation with practice.
You will be able to connect with native speakers of Spanish in a friendly and natural way which will predispose them to helping you with your Spanish. You will begin and end every conversation on a positive, high note which will make you feel good about yourself. With just a handful of phrases and an ear for the typical responses, you can start and end every conversation with fluency, confidence and dignity.
Your repertoire of greetings in Spanish can include: “Qué tal?” (How are you?); “Cómo andas?” (How are you doing?); “Todo bien?” (Is everything okay?). Your list of simple goodbyes can feature: “Que descanses,” (May you rest well); “Fue lindo hablar contigo,” (It was good talking to you); “Que tengas un lindo dia/viaje/(una linda) semana,” (Have a nice day/trip/week); and “Hasta luego,” (Until later).
These greetings and goodbyes instantly enable you to connect with any Spanish speaker in a fun and dynamic fashion.
Sean Hopwood, MBA is founder and President of Day Translations, Inc., a Spanish translation services provider, dedicated to the improvement of global communications. By helping both corporations and the individual, Day Translations provides a necessary service at the same time as developing opportunities for greater sympathy and understanding worldwide.
Daily free Spanish lessons provided by Spanish Teacher Laura Garrido Eslava