DON'T BE SCARED TO SPEAK
A few months ago I went on a German exchange trip with my school. I had met my exchange partner the year before when she came to Britain to stay with my family, now it was my turn to stay with her for a week and go to a German school etc. I was really excited, on the 10 hour bus journey to Köln from Birmingham my friends and I spoke German to each other. We practiced and practiced, we even taught the bus driver some key phrases.
At this point I had not even heard of Duo Lingo, but I was still pretty confident with my speaking listening and writing skills that I need for my GCSE course. I was getting C and B grades in assessments, so I was confident.
When my exchange partner picked me up I greeted her with simple German terms such as 'Hallo' and 'Wie gehts?' Then when I met her family I introduced myself to them and answered questions about my journey, saying things like 'Die reise war lang und langweilig' and 'ich bin sehr müde' And although my answers were short and slow and the grammar not so good, they could understand me. The next day I went to school, a hauptschule I think, with her, people almost swarmed around asking questions in fluent German and broken English. This is when I started to panic, what if they laughed at my terrible German? What happens if I say something wrong? I sat there answering questions in English, too scared to answer in German. I taught them some slang but I never spoke a word of German. So I just wanted to tell other people, not to be scared. If you have an chance to improve your speaking, take it! You never know when you will get another chance like it!
I remember doing a similar thing (in France, though) many many years ago - it's terrifying at first, but so effective, not just in improving language but in getting a better understanding of the country and the culture, and breaking down stereotypes. Good on you for taking the opportunity!
Thanks for the support:), since joining duo i have gained a lot more confidence with my German speaking. one of my best friends was born in Germany and can speak fluently so I try and talk to her and her mum in German, they seem to understand me!
It's important to having speaking practice when learning a language and I'm happy you shared your experience with us! Even if you spoke simple sentences you were still practicing and getting your tongue used to the language as well as exercising your listening and comprehension skills. I can relate to your whole experience, as I'm sure many others can too.
One day my family visited a family friend who is from Korea and was so excited to learn that I was learning Korean and wanted to converse with me. But when I was put on the spot, my mind went blank and instead spoke in English. However, he encouraged me to start speaking more even if it's little sentences because that's how I'll improve. When we saw him again I sang a children's song to him and his wife, who was a teacher in Korea, and they were so happy. I even started speaking more to them in Korean even if it was broken. Eventually, I became more confident and realized the importance of speaking while learning. And I've come to find out that even when I'm speaking to a native speaker they more times than not correct me with my pronunciation or grammar if I make a mistake. But mistakes are a lesson, so we shouldn't be afraid to make mistakes.
A kind of funny story - my Korean teacher called me one day and asked, in Korean, what I was doing the next day and I replied "I am okay" because I thought she was going to ask how I was. I got a lesson in the importance of listening closely. I find it funny now, but at that time all I could do was cringe to myself.
So cheers to you for your encouragement to others and I hope you'll be able to have more practice like that again!
Going to Korea was SO FUN! I learned the most Korean in my couple of weeks visiting Korea than the 3 months I spent studying before. Best wishes to you on your Hanguk language experience!
It can be super hard at the beginning. I am still unsure when I speak Swedish, but most of the time people understand me. Every day that I speak in broken pigeon Swedish is a day closer to speaking clear and coherent Swedish. One day at a time.
Although my experience is limited to Japan and Latin America I'm always moved by how willing and patient native speakers are when engaging with foreign language learners.
Good post and good luck with your GCSE! When I was on holiday to Cologne after 1.5 years of learning the langauge, I was so keen to practise it. However, what I've found is that German are very keen to practise their English too! I spoke to them in broken German and they replied to me in fluent English! Anyway, it's good attitude to try and speak a foreign language and be patient when the others are trying to learn your own language.
Keep your friendship with your exchange partner too!
Is German a main language in your school or do you have other more popular languages (ie my school does french and spanish too but we are the only class of 7 classes doing German so its not as prioritised)
German is not the main language in my school, there are only 60 students (out of possibly more than 1000 students) learning German, the rest are learning French or Spanish. (you can also learn Italian and Arabic after school). They are no longer letting year 8s choose German as a language, after my class have done the exams, you will only be able to learn German at A-Level.
i definitely get what you mean: practise makes perfect! although scary, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is so important if you want to improve, particularly in languages. Also, i love your profile picture :D
Yes. Don't be shy BE BRASH. Use your hands and body language but WORK ON COMMUNICATING. Dont' think about grammar just think about communicating. You aren't going to be perfect, but that is part of the charm of being a FOREIGNER!!!
Seriously, I agree that no one should be scared of speaking up no matter the circumstance. The worst thing that can happen is that they might laugh at your accent and choppy grammar. What they can't laugh at is your courage and determination! ^_^
You talked about two important things about learning a language: overcoming initial fear of speaking and keeping it simple when having a conversation.
Don't make excuses when trying to have a conversation, just do the best you can. And don't carry unrealistic expectations such as being fluent, even during the first year or so. Keep it very simple, do good on it, then add to it. Everyone I know says people appreciate your efforts to speak their language. Get out there and try and come back and let us know how it goes. Some days you will amaze yourself how good you are and other days, well, let's just say every day is different and it would be pretty boring if all the same.
I've found now with living in France and not speaking French in almost 30 years, that people will quickly switch to English to make things easier for them (if they know it) but as long as I'm comfortable with the type of discussion I keep on with French. It also gives them a chance to practice English.
It must've been hard answering all those questions about Zwiebeln and Sümpfe. Aber wie man so sagt Fragen sind wie Zwiebeln...
Viel erfolg mit deinem Lernen,
Zweibeln haben schicten! I should have just shouted at them: "Raus aus meinem Sümpf!"
This is such good advice. I am just starting to learn Spanish, and i am nervous about how i must sound and worry that people will laugh at me. But i think you are right, you will never learn unless you take the plunge. And most people will think more highly of you if you at least show that you are trying.
speaking a second language for the first time can be horrifying but, as unpopular as this opinion might be, i think it's an overrated issue. as long as you can understand people, it's possible to make yourself understood sooner or later. the real issue is not even understanding the language, but thinking that somehow you will magically learn it when you try to speak in a foreign country (something a lot of exchange students seem to believe, for some reason).
A very helpful post, thank you for this. I take German classes 2 times a week during school term time and do really well on things like reading out loud, pronunciation, taking German dictation etc., but I really struggle with speaking off the top of my head.
At the end of the last term our tutor said we should go for a drink and just speak German, his more advanced class also joined us later. I was saying how speaking is a struggle for me and he said "but I'm watching and listening and you are communicating with people, they understand you".
I think my problem is feeling stupid about things coming out in the wrong order. I live in a German speaking part of Switzerland and if you are trying to speak German in places like shops they sometimes come back at you in English so you have to really persevere. There is one assistant in my local supermarket who just barks "English?" if I'm struggling and it can be off putting. There is also a tendency to correct your speech.
My husband has work colleagues who are German and they just say to him it doesn't matter if it comes out in a jumble because they get what he's trying to say. It also woks both ways because their English sometimes comes out muddled up :)
The swamp be good LutherHick, now that everyone has got OUT OF MY SWAMP.
...and that's precisely why you're going to have a hard time learning Chinese. Learn to encourage others. When you're unable to do that for others, and instead choose to belittle them, you exude inner anger and pathetic energy.
I know...so many cats learn languages nowadays. Best to accuse them all. Then the guilty one will suddenly turn it as back and start licking itself wildly. Cat psychology....
I was speaking 'Chinese' in a Confusious manner. As in, "Ahhh...sooo! " Obviously it didn't work!