Every one of us can find an excuse not to learn and speak a foreign language. And it’s only natural to do so. After all, communicating in a different language takes us out of our comfort zone completely and puts us at the mercy of our native conversation partners. Yes, it can be awkward to make a mistake but we are grownups and should know how to laugh it off at this point in our lives. I have learned five foreign languages in my life and never once offended a native speaker to the point where they marched off in anger or pointed their finger at me laughing out loud.
- “I won’t speak Luxembourgish until I know that I master it.”
- “I’ll just reply in Luxembourgish next time.”
- “I’m not good at learning languages.”
- “I’m too old to learn another language.”
What can you do to overcome your fear and start speaking today?
1. Have fun learning and speaking Luxembourgish
In other words, be more like children learning the language and less like adults. Children intuitively know that making language mistakes does not make them a bad person. They don’t really sit down to study the language either: they listen, they speak, they play, they make mistakes and they just don’t care. I’m not saying that as an adult language learner, you shouldn’t sit down to study Luxembourgish. I’m saying that at one point (each day) you have to put yourself out there and just speak with whatever words you’ve got.
Don’t find that you have the opportunity to speak Luxembourgish? Be proactive in your search for opportunities. There are many Luxembourgers at your local Badminton club, music band, business luncheon… Look for something you enjoy doing and then have fun speaking.
2. Know that everyone is nervous about speaking a foreign language
You’re not alone. It feels awful to go from that feeling of mastery in your native language to stuttering, backtracking and gesturing in Luxembourgish. Everybody feels the same way about this. Remember how Luxembourgers usually speak something like eight other languages (I’m joking, of course)? Luxembourgers know exactly how you feel about speaking a foreign language before you’ve even opened your mouth. They will appreciate your efforts even more because they know how hard it is. Do they reply back to you in English? Tell them this:
“Nee, komm mir schwätze Lëtzebuergesch!” (No, let’s speak Luxembourgish!)
3. Cherish mistakes
Mistakes are nothing to be ashamed of. The purpose of learning to speak Luxembourgish is to communicate better with the natives and not to speak in grammatically perfect sentences. Making mistakes actually serves a very important function in language learning and that is the possibility of improvement. Without making mistakes, you will simply not learn as fast. So go out there, speak and make mistakes. You’ll remember your mistakes much better if a native tells you than if you read it in your grammar book.
4. Do something small and achievable every day
Remember that the saying is “Practice makes perfect.” and not “Study makes perfect.” So each day, speak Luxembourgish. Have a small and achievable goal for each day:
- Today I will order my croissant in Luxembourgish.
- Today I will reserve the restaurant table in Luxembourgish.
- Today I will ask my coworker how they are doing in Luxembourgish.
5. Stop thinking you’re shy
Everyone says they’re shy and everyone really thinks they are shy. Stop saying that. It’s not helping you. Everyone is nervous before talking to a stranger even more so when it’s not in your native language. Do it anyway. Prove yourself wrong. The feeling of pride you will get from the experience will give you a boost in confidence for days to come.
Do you have a friend who’s learning a foreign language just like you? Why not share this post with them so you can hold each other accountable and motivate each other for even faster progress?
Featured photo: Photo by Thomas/flickr (Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))
Copyright 2016:Liz Wenger