Here’s some peppy encouragement in this month’s guest article. I have to admit that I have been self-conscious about speaking another language many, many times in my life, but more often in French than in Spanish. Why? I spoke better French in my 20s than I will ever speak Spanish, but the French people were nothing like as warm and encouraging as the Spanish and Mexicans I have met. Also, I’m less self-conscious just from having lived more years! — Rosana
How to Gain a Rock-Solid Linguistic Self-Confidence
One of the most common reasons people stay mediocre foreign language speakers is that they’re too ashamed to use the language consistently. Big mistake. Huge (as Julia Roberts points out in Pretty woman)!
You need to practice, if you want to achieve mastery (or any solid linguistic level, really). It’s that simple!
You probably wonder now how can you practice if you don’t feel confident enough, right? I totally get your point, believe me… but as the saying goes, sometimes you just have to jump and learn to swim along the way, otherwise you get stuck in a vicious circle of shame and mediocrity. Ugh! Not the most fantastic place to be in, agree?
Let me help you out here, OK? There are 7 simple truths you can start appreciating immediately to leapfrog your linguistic self-confidence and knowledge to a whole new level.
1. Overall self-confidence is a must if you want to gain the linguistic one!
It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? If you’re generally insecure, you probably feel embarrassed around people no matter what language you’re using at the moment. However, it’s very likely that a foreign language will make you even more nervous than your native one, so if you want to have a shot at being self-confident (instead of overly self-conscious) as a foreign language user, take care of the overall self-confidence first. Before »wasting« time on anything else!
2. Mistakes raise your awareness – which is not only good, but freakin’ awesome!
Yes, mistakes are annoying, especially when you’re the one making them – no good denying that, right? But don’t get too upset – mistakes can actually do you an XXL favor if you just listen to their message. Learn from your mistakes, analyze them and start using the correct expressions or grammatical forms right away! No waiting and ranting period allowed. Ever.
3. No-one’s perfect – no, not even you!
I’m sorry to step on your toes, but in language learning there’s no such thing as perfection; the best you can hope for is proficiency. Next time you’re worried to show your imperfect linguistic knowledge to the world, remember that when it comes to humans, perfection is a myth. Deal with it and move on – maybe you’ll start enjoying your less-than-perfect-but-sooooo-adorable attempts to conquer foreign language skills.
4. Seek occasions to speak and write in your target language… over and over again!
It’s a never-ending story, you know that, right? Mastery requires work and taking smart action. In the magic world of language learning, this means you never ever stop looking for opportunities to use your written or oral linguistic knowledge, preferably in communication with native speakers of your target language. Get a penpal, chat online, join a local organization of foreign students, travel while leaving your native tongue at home… I’m sure you’ll find a way!
5. Put some effort in your speaking and writing – and please, USE the new vocabulary you just learnt!
Sometimes, going with the flow is not the best strategy. If you don’t pay attention to what you’re saying or writing, you’ll keep stagnating at the same linguistic level – and that’s the best case scenario. The worst case scenario shows your knowledge deteriorate due to repeated mistakes that are, by now, well-anchored in your mind. To avoid that horror movie, check out your script now and then – incorporate your most recently learnt words and/or grammar structures in your speaking and writing, even if you’re not 100% sure how. Keep trying and you’ll get there…
6. After every speaking or writing exercise, jot down the words or grammar patterns you had a hard time with!
…and you’ll get there faster if you do your homework. Remember the part where mistakes become freakin’ awesome? It’s right at this point of the story – when you acknowledge the problems you encountered while speaking and/or writing – that you get the chance to step up. So, write down the trouble areas and work on them ASAP.
7. Practice regularly and your self-confidence will grow by the day!
Practice implies consistency. If your efforts are not focused AND regular, you can’t expect miracles… no magic will just knock on your door! It’s you that have to make it happen – by following a flexibly designed schedule that you’ll feel great about. And don’t say you don’t have time for language learning, because you do!
Martina Srblin is the Language Learning Magician who will help you discover the language learning system that best fits your needs, skills and schedule, so you can stop wasting time, money and energy on language learning methods that – for you personally – are inefficient. For free resources and to sign up for a FREE report on “7 Key Steps to Smart Language Learning” and a FREE subscription to the Language Learning Magic Ezine, please visit Martina’s website http://www.martinasrblin.com.
Filed under: Languages