Let’s get one thing out of the way, learning a language is hard. When your confidence gets knocked, it’s difficult to pluck up the courage and try again.
Don’t worry. You are not alone and we are here to help! There are 3 simple steps to getting you confidence back (and learning something new along the way!).
- Try to see it from the other person’s point of view.
The most frequent way my confidence gets knocked is when I am speaking Spanish and that person I’m speaking to doesn’t understand what I’m saying, no matter how hard I am trying to get my point accross. It’s frustrating, and when the person you are speaking to has a puzzled look on their face it just makes you feel worse. Trust me, we have all been there. I have found that the quizzical look of not understanding is not an insult, they really want to listen and talk to you and the look is merely them trying to figure out what you are saying and respond in way in which you’ll understand.
2. Find out where you went wrong and right it.
There are two ways of going about this. If you have the courage at the time, you could ask the person you are chatting to correct you. You can use phrases such as “¿Es correcto decir …?” (“Is it correct to say …?”) or “¿Cuál es mejor? ¿… o …?” (“Which is better? … or …?”). If you think you know where you went wrong, tools such as wordreference or spanishchecker are great for searching for answers online.
3. Get back on the horse.
The most dificult of the three steps is undoublty the last one. You’ve got to get out there into the wild world and try again. With any language, perserverance is key and you are only going to improve by making mistakes, learning from them and trying again. It’s a circle, but not a vicious one. I heard somewhere that you have to say a phrase correctly in practise to someone three times before it sticks. So what are you waiting for? Try not to take yourself too seriously. It doesn’t matter in the long run if you trip a little a long way. Learning a language is a marathon and not a sprint (and yes, I decided to carry on knowingly with the same ‘running’ metaphor, so shoot me).
Remember, it is always better to try and make a mistake than to not try at all.
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