How do you overcome your fear of speaking in a foreign language?

How unfair! Some people seem to be able to speak in a foreign language so easily and without any fear, while others doubt, hesitate, fear, tremble, stammer, stammer, lose all their means … sometimes even to the point of being stuck. 

If this is your case: don’t panic! It is a perfectly natural and logical reaction and – fortunately – it is possible to change things.

Here are all my tips and tricks!

Why are we afraid to speak a foreign language?

In order to overcome your fear, it is important to understand the reasons for it.

There are several possible causes for this problem:

  • Your natural shyness
  • A lack of self-confidence
  • A bad past experience (at school, during an interview, during a trip, …)
  • Fear of being ridiculed or judged

Each of these reasons can cause a real fear of speaking and prevent you from daring to engage in a conversation. It’s important to identify the causes of your fears and try to work through them, in addition to the tips I’m going to give you to help you.

Fear of making mistakes

This quote says it all: you have to dare! Making mistakes is no big deal at all. What is serious is to be paralyzed by this fear.

Making mistakes is normal and inevitable. Any learning, any evolution, any novelty necessarily involves a few mistakes.

In other words: if you don’t make a mistake, it’s because you haven’t tried something new, you’ve only stayed on what you’ve learned and you haven’t risked making a mistake to move forward.

So, let’s recap: it is normal not to be immediately bilingual. Your language learning will take time and that’s normal. You’re going to make mistakes and that’s good because it’s precisely from those mistakes that you’re going to learn.

Don’t believe that people who seem so comfortable speaking right from the start don’t make mistakes! On the contrary, they make a lot of them, but they don’t make them because they know that it’s by making mistakes and then correcting them that they progress effectively.

In addition, people are generally rather benevolent and often even admiring when you try to express yourself in their language. And speaking in their language, even if imperfectly, goes far beyond the transmission of a simple message: it is a true sign of cultural openness that will undoubtedly be warmly welcomed by your interlocutor. It is a precious bond that you are forging, as Nelson Mandela puts it so well:

Tip 1: Don’t rush!

There’s no point in running, you have to start at the right time. To not find yourself paralyzed by your fears, you must follow this basic rule: do not skip the stages and move at your own pace.

You don’t feel ready to talk in the middle of a group of people yet? Then don’t. There’s no rush. It will come one day, when you feel more comfortable with the language.

You feel you can communicate in writing, but not yet orally? Keep writing for the time being, so you can make further progress and become more confident.

Here are a few tips that will help you progress in speaking, both in pronunciation and in acquiring language automatisms:

  • Watch videos (commercials, documentaries, games, films, series, newspapers, …)
  • Listen to the radio, podcasts, songs…
  • Read books out loud
  • Speak out loud by yourself (invent a topic for discussion, a theme to argue, …)
  • Record or film yourself so that you can observe your expression and pronunciation in retrospect.
  • Sing!

Also to be read: Learn a language on a daily basis… without thinking about it!

Tip 2: Surround yourself with caring interlocutors

Now you feel that your skills could take you one step further and allow you to engage in a real dialogue. Beautiful!

The best thing is to find a native who can correct you. This way you will discover the language in a very different way than with a textbook: slang, grammatical subtleties, cultural references… Your experience will be enriched by elements that are less academic but closer to the reality of everyday life. Exchanges can be made by phone calls or even on video and if possible on a regular basis.

The concept of correspondence is absolutely perfect for progressing because it has the following advantages:

·       You communicate with a real native speaker who is a real expert in the language.

·       You correct each other to progress

·       The goodwill is bound to be there since you are both in a learning situation and you both make mistakes.

·       You have the choice to communicate in writing or orally, or both.

Also to be read :  Correspondence, linguistic exchanges: how to book progress efficiently?


Tip 3: Prepare “sample” sentences to slip into conversations

Learn ready-made sentences that you can slip into the conversation, this will have the beneficial effect of reassuring you. You’ll be able to bounce back quickly without having to rack your brains to find the right words.

Here’s a selection of ready-made and very practical little sentences:

  • I don’t understand
  • Nice to meet you
  • It’s my pleasure.
  • Can you repeat…
  • Can you speak slower?
  • I’m only speaking a little…
  • Can you explain to me…
  • Can you tell me…
  • Where is the…
  • Can we be on first-name terms?
  • Please do.
  • I need to…
  • I’d like to…
  • I can’t find the word, but I’m talking about…
  • Are you lining up?
  • It’s my turn.
  • A table for two people please.
  • For dessert, I’d like to…
  • Can you bring me…
  • Three tickets: two adults and one child
  • Am I allowed to take pictures?
  • I’m wearing…
  • I’m a tall guy. My size is…
  • I’d rather…

This way, you can prepare yourself for the different situations you will encounter in the country depending on whether you plan to go to a restaurant, a museum, a shop, or to ask for directions … It is then up to you to personalize your list of small sentences ready to use, the objective being to simplify the contact, to launch a dialogue using sentences you master and thus overcome your fear of speaking a foreign language.

Tip 4: Travelling abroad alone

This is undoubtedly the most radical but also the most effective way. Alone in a foreign country, you will have no choice but to put all your doubts aside and take the plunge.

This is the best way to make rapid progress in a foreign language, once you have already acquired the basics of conversation.

To make the experience as fun as possible, don’t hesitate to multiply your contacts with the locals: go out for a walk, start a conversation with locals, salesmen, waiters, …

Another idea to be immersed in the language: rent a room in a private home. It’s a way to practice the language every day and it’s also an economical way to travel.

Also to be read : Travelling alone: a very good idea!


Tip 5: Coliglote accompanies you

To progress in a foreign language by practicing with a real native speaker, both orally and in writing, come and discover the unique Coliglote application! It is free of charge.

Article written by Ingrid, Coliglote

Sources :

  • Driss
    22 April 2020 at 20 h 00 min

    Thanks for your outstanding advices. Yet the problem is that it is very rare to meet a native speaker of the language I want to learn, so I find it difficult to practice alone. All I can do is I just write down my thought and feelings.
    I apreciate your guidance so I am working more and more. Yours

  • Sara
    25 April 2020 at 1 h 09 min

    Bonsoir à tout le monde.
    J’espère que vous allez bien .
    Je crois que je veux casser ma peur de communication.
    J’ai besoin de quelque natif de me parler et corrigé mes fautes .
    Je sais que je fais plusieurs erreurs dans ce texte merciii

    • Coliglote
      25 April 2020 at 9 h 41 min

      Bonjour Sara
      N’aie pas peur, tu as bien fait de te lancer et d’écrire un commentaire ! Il y a quelques erreurs , oui, mais franchement ton texte est très bien écrit (quelques natifs … pour … corriger … j’ai fait)
      Je te conseille de participer activement sur notre groupe de langue Coliglote language learning en attendant la sortie de l’application qui va justement te permettre de pratiquer avec autant de natifs que tu le souhaites !
      Pour le groupe c’est ici :
      Pour s’inscrire à l’application c’est ici :
      A bientôt !


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