Five Steps to Overcoming Anxiety When Speaking a New Language

April 17, 2018 / by Melanie Moore

Speak like a local.Sometimes getting your point across in your native language takes guts — let alone having to share your thoughts in a second language. It can sometimes seem like a task so daunting, we may not even consider trying.

Thanks to author, international speaker, and researcher Dr. Taghreed Al-Saraj, we've got a five-step plan to get you through that next conversation, presentation, interview, or even date — no matter the language.

 

Select a language that interests you.

Write down why you want to learn the language you’ve selected. Whether it's in order to connect with family, prepare for international travel, or improve your business relationships, write it down, include a picture, and review it every time you feel that pre-conversation panic. On the days that you don’t feel like studying, you’ll have a reminder that the reason for learning is bigger than your fears.

 

Prepare yourself on how the language works and how people interact with each other when speaking that language.

Listen to the language being spoken. Watch videos by native speakers or try watching a film produced in a country where your target language is spoken, in order to see the language and culture in action. Observe the unique mannerisms characteristic of different cultures — from the expressive greetings and blessings of Filipino culture to the more reserved gestures of respect in Japanese culture. Remember that 93% of communication is nonverbal, with body language making up 55%.

 

Expect and embrace that you may feel or look silly along the way — it’s OK!

‘Don’t be afraid to make mistakes!’ We know that this advice is easier said than done. Dr. Al-Saraj recommends that no matter how silly you feel, keep talking! The more you use your target language, the better your command of the language will be. If you pick the wrong word or phrase to describe something, for example, then the correct usage of the word or phrase will be all the more memorable for you. So expect that you will make mistakes when speaking a new language — and you'll be better off for making them!

 

Apply the words whenever you can and engage with those who speak the language.

A little goes a long way — speaking a word or simple greeting in someone's language is generally appreciated, no matter how thick your accent. Try to use the words you’ve recently learned in a conversation — even in English! When speaking English, you're likely already using words in other languages — mosquito, for example, is Spanish for 'little fly,' and tsunami is a Japanese word that means 'harbor wave.'  Mazel Tov! [Good luck!]

 

Keep going and don’t get discouraged!

Last but not least, keep learning a language! Set a regular schedule for learning — just like you would schedule in leg days at the gym — by picking two to three days a week to practice your target language. Our app's Bluetooth and auto play features make it easy to get your language lesson done while on the go. 

Get started with the first step of the S.P.E.A.K. five-step plan, click below to explore one of Mango Languages’ 70+ language courses and hear a conversation for yourself. Let us know which one you’ve chosen in the comments below.

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Do you have any other tips for overcoming anxiety when speaking a different language? Let us know in the comments below!

Topics: Language Learning and Culture

Melanie Moore

Written by Melanie Moore

Melanie speaks German, Lithuanian, and Japanese and has dabbled in several others. She is an aspiring polyglot and enjoys sharing her passions for language learning and music with anyone she meets.

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