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Every person in the world fears something. Some people are afraid of spiders, others of clowns, or being stuck in a small space.
But, do you know that there are people who have a fear of speaking a foreign language?
It is called xenoglossophobia.
Even if some may think that this fear isn’t real, it truly is. It can paralyze the person to improve their foreign language skills, which leads to further problems in learning and socialization.
Whether you have a fear of making mistakes or you’re just shy when you talk to native speakers, the good news is that you can overcome those fears.
Let’s start by defining what it is that makes us suffer from xenoglossophobia. Then, we can figure out together some strategies that can help you overcome your fear of speaking a foreign language.
Everyone has fears.
And everyone has different fears.
It means that if something scares you, doesn’t necessarily mean that it scares everyone.
So, how can you overcome your fear?
First of all, you have to recognize that you’re afraid. Even though it is the first step, it is, however, the most difficult one.
When you identify the feeling, then you can start your battle.
It’s recommended to start practicing your speaking skills as soon as possible so that you can overcome your fear.
Interact with native speakers. Improve your vocabulary. Use textbooks to practice grammar.
Stay calm and think positively.
When you fear the following things, it often means that those are your weaknesses.
Let’s see what are the most common anxieties, and how we can overcome them.
When you are afraid of making a mistake when you’re talking in your target language, it usually means that your grammar is poor.
What you have to do is dedicate more time to grammar rules and exceptions.
Find an entertaining way to learn grammar since it can be quite exhausting. Find, for example, some interesting textbooks with fun and interactive grammar exercises.
Always think this way: how could I learn a foreign language on my own if you don’t make any mistakes? It is impossible. Instead, learn from your mistakes and make sure you don’t repeat them.
People who don’t understand what native speakers are saying, often have a problem with their listening skills. It means that those language learners have to spend some extra time improving those skills.
If you are, for example, learning English, then you can improve your listening skills by listening to some English podcasts. They are entertaining, pleasant and mainly discuss some real-life topics so you won’t get bored.
It can happen that you are giving your best to speak to the natives, but they don’t understand a single word you are saying.
Before you start panicking, at first, you should have in mind that if you already started talking to native speakers, it means that they probably understand you.
If, however, they don’t follow you, then you have to improve your pronunciation. Not that you have to speak like a native but you should be able to pronounce words and phrases the right way.
How can you overcome this fear?
With practice only. Every language is different, so depending on the one you are learning, you have to find some exercises that can help you improve your pronunciation.
One of the best ways is with tongue twisters.
If you’re learning French, you can practice with French tongue twisters to improve your pronunciation.
And remember, be persistent but also patient. You can’t improve your pronunciation overnight.
Many language learners are afraid that they don’t know enough words to interact with others.
So, here comes the vocabulary issue.
To be more confident, you have to boost your vocabulary all the time. Luckily, there are so many ways and methods to expand your vocabulary.
One of the most effective ones is with YouTube. If you are, for example, a Spanish learner, then you should search for channels for learning Spanish on YouTube. Many of them are useful, so you won’t only learn new words and phrases, but you will practice pronunciation, have fun with games that teach you the grammar, etc.
Shyness can become an issue because it prevents you from practicing your target language.
How can you overcome it?
For shy people, it is essential to give their best and get out into the world. So, the first thing they should do is build confidence.
You can find some groups in Meetup. Over there, people are gathering to practice languages, so give it a try.
For those who are really shy, there is Reddit, an online platform where you don’t have to interact face-to-face. You can post, send messages, share opinions, and find many people who can help you with learning a language as well as your shyness.
One of the best ways to overcome the fear of being shy is to book a lesson with Justlearn tutors. Lessons are one-on-one, with native speakers as tutors, which means that they understand if someone has issues of speaking the language. Moreover, they can help you get rid of your fear and be confident.
That fear of being embarrassed while you are trying to speak in your target language can be quite devastating.
People often worry about looking stupid in front of others and imagine that a conversation can go in many wrong ways. The main reason sometimes can be a lack of conversational skills.
However, you can overcome it with little practice.
Before you start the conversation, try to imagine the conversation. Make a simulation of the conversation, what you might say and what others would answer or ask.
If you, for example, are going to the restaurant, then imagine what you would order and what the waiter would say.
It takes time and practice, but you can overcome this fear by being persistent and believing in yourself.
As we mentioned earlier, recognizing that you are afraid of something is a huge step.
By identifying your fear, you are more than halfway to your goal. Now you know what you should do to get over that step.
One of the ways that can be helpful is to set a deadline.
Depending on the language you are learning, and your level of proficiency, you have to set a reasonable deadline to improve your skills and get read of your fears.
Let’s say that you are learning Spanish and you are so afraid of looking ridiculous in front of others because you don’t know enough words and phrases to interact with people. Set a three-month deadline, for example. Within that period, listen to podcasts, watch movies on Netflix, and make your own list of words and phrases. If you get stuck, you might start with some basic family vocabulary, for example.
It is vital to stick to the deadline.
You can write down the number of words and phrases you’ve learned from the first day of your ‘project.’ Then take a look after a month. If you can’t wait that long, you can track your progress at the end of every week.
Tracking your progress will give you confidence.
The last step of overcoming fear is to breathe deeply and say to yourself that you can do it. Positive thinking is a miracle worker. Optimistic thinking, too.
So, there is no space for thinking about what might go wrong.
Get into the real world and show it what you can do.
Many people are afraid of speaking another language. But many of them give their best to conquer their fears, to step forward and give it a try.
After all, you don’t have anything to lose.
You can only gain new skills and knowledge.
And let’s be frank, the feeling of having conquered a fear is priceless.
Recognizing that you are afraid of something is a huge step. By identifying your fear, you are more than halfway to your goal. Now you know what you should do to get over that step. Set a deadline, track your progress and think positively!
It is called xenoglossophobia. Even if some may think that this fear isn’t real, it truly is. It can paralyze the person to improve their foreign language skills, which leads to further problems in learning and socialization. Whether you have a fear of making mistakes or you’re just shy when you talk to native speakers, the good news is that you can overcome those fears.
Some of the most common anxieties are making mistakes, not being able to understand the speakers, being misunderstood, not knowing enough words, being shy.
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