It's quite common for language learners to feel anxiety or embarrassment when trying to speak- you're not alone! We are often afraid of sounding silly or making a mistake, BUT the only way to progress is to leave our comfort zones and take that risk. Here are some tips to help you get more comfortable practicing your speaking skills (while improving them too!).
1. Talk to yourself
Get used to hearing the sound of your own voice, without the pressure of someone else listening to you. Have short conversations with yourself about topics that you're familiar with, or have mock conversations with an imaginary speaking partner.
2. Record yourself
Yes, the dreaded recorder. It can be uncomfortable hearing ourselves speak, but it's necessary to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones in order to progress. I promise, this one is worth it and gets easier over time. Recording yourself allows you to self-correct and learn from your own errors, plus it can be a great motivator to improve your accent. Once you get past the initial discomfort, it will feel more and more natural. Bonus: Keep your recordings so you can go back and listen to see how much you've improved, and get a sweet confidence boost!
3. Find a friend or tutor you're comfortable with
Once you're more comfortable with yourself in the language, the next step is to start speaking with others. Find a friend or tutor who is patient, and you're comfortable making mistakes with. This way, you won't feel silly when you get feedback or embarrassed if you make a mistake. Furthermore, by scheduling time to speak with a tutor or even a friend, it can be helpful having that set time so you know what's coming, plus the accountability of having a set meeting with someone.
4. Read out loud
When you're reading out loud you eliminate the excuse of "what if I mess up the grammar?" Now it's right there for you! So, take your time and read your favorite novel, comic book or magazine out loud to improve pronunciation and get more comfortable speaking.
5. Do it often
No matter which activities you prefer, just make sure you're speaking as much as you can. The more you speak, the more comfortable you will become and the more easily the words and sentences will come to you. As they say in German, Übung macht den Meister (practice makes perfect).
Speaking can seem intimidating at first, but the sooner you get used to doing it, the better. Just remember: everyone makes mistakes when they're learning. Your harshest critic is YOU. So keep on moving through the discomfort, speak often and reach your language learning goals!
PS- Want to see if my German program is right for you? Book a free consult for German lessons & coaching with me today!
About the Author
Noelle is an experienced German teacher and coach. After having lived and worked in Germany in 2014, she returned to the US and earned a Second Bachelor of Arts degree in German, from an AATG German Center of Excellence. Currently, she is pursuing her Master of Arts in Translation and Interpretation Studies and learning Spanish, French and Russian in her free time. When she is not teaching or traveling, you can find her exploring Texas or spending time with her partner and their two cats.