Learning a new language is a scary thing, and it’s easy to feel nervous, especially if you find yourself making mistakes. If you feel like you’re losing confidence as a language learner, check out our top 4 tips for staying confident.
1. Speak Up
When you’re afraid to make mistakes, it’s easy to speak quietly because you don’t want people to hear you. But if people can’t hear you, the meaning will be even more unclear. When you speak a foreign language, try to raise your voice and speak clearly even if you think you’ll make a mistake. People will understand you much better if you speak up.
2. Use L2 Fillers
When native speakers stumble on what to say in English, they say things like ‘umm…’, ‘ahh…’, and ‘err…’ If you’re speaking English as a second language, use these fillers too. If you use fillers from your own language, it will be far more noticeable that you’re not speaking your native language. All languages have their own linguistic fillers, but if you use the fillers of the language you’re trying to speak and don’t break out of that language, it will help you sound much more fluent and help to improve your confidence.
3. Body Language
Appearing confident when speaking a foreign language isn’t all about what you say, it’s also about what you do. Even if you don’t feel confident, you’ll look like you do if you adopt the correct body language. Stand tall, keep your head up, use your hands to gesture, make eye contact, and most importantly… smile.
This is the most important thing to remember – everybody makes mistakes, and they are a vital part of learning a language. If you make a mistake, just take it on the chin and move on. Nobody becomes great at a language instantly – it takes time, hard work, and self-belief. You can do it!
Everybody suffers a lack of confidence from time to time. The important thing is not to let it drag you down – pick yourself up and try again. If you put in the work and believe in yourself, you can reach your goals!
About the Author
Celia Jenkins is a TEFL teacher and freelance writer living in the UK. She spent five years teaching English in China and Japan and now teaches Skype lessons to students around the world. She writes pedagogical articles, travel guides, and stories for children.