Foreign Language Anxiety: How to Not Get Nervous When Talking
Did I use the right word?
Is my grammar correct?
Is that the right pronunciation?
If you have ever asked yourself any of these questions, you have experienced foreign language anxiety.
And you’re not alone.
Feeling anxiety about learning another language is completely normal. Everyone feels it at some point, especially in group discussions and classes, or when taking a test in a foreign language.
But overcoming foreign language anxiety doesn’t require extreme effort – there’s actually a simple solution.
If you KNOW a lot of English, but struggle to SPEAK...Learn More about Fluent for Life
What Is Foreign Language Anxiety?
Foreign Language Anxiety (FLA) is a fancy way of saying that it’s normal to feel nervousness, worry, and apprehension when learning or using a foreign language.
Beyond the anxiety being a nuisance, it can negatively impact your ability to deeply learn and use a foreign language fluently.
There’s a good chance that a lot of your foreign language anxiety is caused by traditional language learning methods – learning in a way that doesn’t feel natural to you.
Basically, the anxiety you feel when faced with speaking, listening to, writing in, or learning a second language comes from the doubts and questions caused by traditional methods. They leave you wondering if you’re saying things the right way and prevent you from understanding native speakers. But with the right approach, you can easily destroy these doubts, and feel much more confident when speaking English.
6 Effective Ways to Overcome Anxiety When Speaking English
Overcoming foreign language anxiety will take some effort, but you’re not in it alone. Use the following tips to speak English confidently and achieve fluency for life:
1. Develop Speaking Confidence
To develop speaking confidence, you first need to approach English as a first language rather than a second language.
Essentially, traditional language learning methods have worked against you. They’ve taught you to believe that rote repetition is the best and only way to learn a foreign language. And they’re wrong!
Humans aren’t good at memorizing random groups of words or rules – not to mention effectively using them in real life.
So the core secret to overcoming anxiety – and reaching fluency – is to build yourself up to a confident level of UNDERSTANDING before you push yourself to speak.
When you do feel comfortable opening your mouth, remember that there are usually many ways to express something. So don’t feel bad if you can’t recall a specific “correct” word when you need it. Just use words you can remember and express something in a different way.
For example, if I can’t remember the phrase “hot as hell,” I can simply say, “incredibly hot.”
2. Focus On Active Listening
Part of the anxiety associated with speaking a foreign language is deciding what you want to say.
While listening to the other person, you may also be using your energy to plan responses.
But knowing that there are many ways to express ideas and that you actually develop fluency through understanding, not speech… Instead of worrying about what to say next, shift ALL of your attention to actively listening to the native English you hear.
Not only will it help take the pressure off of speaking, but this will help YOU learn more, and make the other person really feel listened to, which we all appreciate!
On top of this, listening to different native speakers talk about similar topics is an effective way to deeply understand English through Naturally Varied Review, which we’ll cover next.
3. Prepare Solidly With Naturally Varied Review
The basic idea of Naturally Varied Review is similar to exposure therapy. One example is hearing different examples of the same speech, which better prepares you for the variety of English you’ll hear in real life.
Start by picking a topic or song that interests you. Next, find a few YouTube videos of English speakers discussing the topic or different versions of the song and watch all of them.
By exposing yourself to varied content around a particular topic, you quickly develop a native vocabulary, while also improving your listening skills.
This method will help you build English fluency automatically and overcome foreign language anxiety at the same time.
4. Sign Up for a Fluency Course
A fluency course can significantly impact the speed at which you become fluent – it’s essentially a fast-track path to fluency!
While there are many fluency courses available, Fluent For Life is the ONLY course that teaches you English as a first language.
Because of this, you’ll improve your speaking ability greatly through real speech, visual examples, and stories about topics that interest you. This means no more memorizing word lists, translations, or grammar rules!
5. Learn to Understand English Deeply
Traditional English teaching methods teach you to learn as many words or phrases as possible. But often spend so little time on each that you forget what you learn.
Instead, learning English deeply means learning to focus on vocabulary until you understand it like a native speaker. By doing this, you come to understand the many different ways that words and phrases can be expressed.
Focus on one thing at a time, one phrase, one English idiom, one topic, etc., until you really understand it.
With this approach, vocabulary becomes more memorable, which helps you recall the proper words and use them confidently and correctly.
With time, you will begin to think in English directly, rather than translating your thoughts from your native language.
6. Learn With Real English
English teachers can teach you a lot, but this “textbook English” is often much different than the English of real conversations. Natives speak quickly, often don’t have clear accents, and can use many tricky words and phrases that aren’t taught in classrooms.
But Naturally Varied Review can also help make natives easier to understand as we show in this video of different people making espresso. Hopefully, you’re starting to see how powerful Naturally Varied Review can be.
The more you LEARN like a native, the more you will SPEAK like one!
Don’t Get Nervous: Get Prepared!
Becoming confident in your vocabulary and speaking abilities can help eliminate foreign language anxiety.
This is actually a quick process once you start understanding English like a native.
So if you want to fast-track yourself to fluency, sign up for Fluent For Life. You’ll get a proven roadmap that guarantees English fluency in only minutes a day, without needing live lessons or a private teacher.