I am curious. Is it just me or can any of you can relate about freaking out when you see a native of the language you’re studying?
Earlier today, as I was about to go, I saw a bunch of Koreans in a shop I was in. This doesn’t happen all the time, so I kinda freaked out when I heard an older guy talked in Korean behind me, and when I turned around to look at them, there were (I think) almost 10 of them, and they talk so excitedly as they found that the goods are like in Busan, and things like that. I can understand some random things they said. Like, “I’ll buy it for you”, “this is my style” and “I have allergies”. And then one of them said (in a louder voice), “look here”, and I also turned around (coz you know, I understood what he said lol), and then I found out that he was trying to took a photo of them. So IDK what to do, and just turned around so I wouldn’t be included in the photo ㅋㅋㅋ.
As sort of an introvert kind of person, I was trying to look for an opportunity to talk to them but I just couldn’t dare. In the end, I only said ‘안녕하세요’ [an-nyeong-ha-se-yo] (hello) to the older lady, and she responded to that, as well. But then I left after that.
This isn’t the first time I encountered meeting some Koreans (in person), but last time I tried to talk, but nothing came out of my mouth, so atleast this time, something came out. ㅋㅋㅋ
Maybe some of you has this kind of experience, I would like to know how to overcome the ‘freaking out’ stage. lol
Just saying something, like you did, is an accomplishment. Congrats! For next time, you could learn a sentence in Korean such as "I'm studying Korean." And say that after you say Hello. (Probably also add "I can't say very much" or something to that effect.) People are usually very nice and they appreciate that you are trying to learn their language.
Don't worry that you have to say something complicated. I've found that people don't expect that; they understand that you are learning.
P.S. Being able to pick out words from what they said is also good practice. It shows that you ARE learning.
Very common to freeze up (or "freak out") the first few times you have the opportunity to speak a language you've learned.
When I was first taught how to speak to a large audience at a lecture, my instructor said, "Don't be nervous. Just imagine none of them are wearing any clothes!"
It worked, but the technique needs to be different with much smaller groups!
Now... specially for you... the next time the opportunity arises, as you approach them, you see yourself sprinkling them with purple pixie dust that's been enchanted with a "talk to me!" enchantment.
Try it! I have the same problem with Portuguese. I think it is partially because on Duolingo we learn how to read, write, and even listen to sentences, but we don't need to speak much if at all. Speaking requires muscle memory, because it all happens so quickly. So I would advise you to repeat every DL sentence you get out loud, and also invent things to talk to yourself about! Talk to your dog! Talk to your cat! Talk to your parrot! Talk in the shower! Talk in the car, or while you're riding your bike! Teach your parents/siblings/friends Korean, so you can talk to them. Maybe have a few secret sentences. You can tell them anything and they get to say their one secret sentence back! Oh, back to my Portuguese story... there was a math teacher on our staff who was from the Azores (Portugal) and every time I passed him in the hall I told myself, "Go ahead! Say something to him in Portuguese!" But I never dared. Now I'm working on Latin and the sentences are recorded by real people! They put a lot of emotion in the sentences. The male voice makes all his sentences sound like an orator proclaiming something in the forum. So I find myself also sometimes making sentences up and saying them out loud, as if I were a Roman orator. Kind of ironic. There are no Romans left to speak with! (Though I have heard stories of real situations when Latin was used as a lingua franca.)
Oh, another thing you could do is find Korean songs you like and memorize the lyrics. Or poetry. Anything you can speak out loud!
Best of luck, and I hope my suggestions help. :)
It's totally gross (depending on your audience), but that's the point. It puts a smile on your face and gets rid of the nerves.
But as I said, it only works for a big audience at a distance from you. In this case, the purple pixie dust will do the same job much better - seriously. It WILL work.
To each his own! I've heard this suggestion a zillion times, regarding public speaking, etc., and it just does not work for me, at all. It doesn't make me smile or get rid on my nerves or anything. I'm not sure what would work for me - I think just focusing on my breath works best for me. Which makes sense because I've done yoga/meditation since I was a teenager and I'm in my early forties, so, the focus on your breathing thing has been there with me a long time. Might work for those who the undie thing doesn't work for. :-)
I almost downvoted because of your title alone. But after reading it, and then laughing hysterically, I can say that I know what you mean. Remember that you'll probably never see those people again, so just keep trying. We can learn every inch of a language course on here, but unless we are using it out loud in our daily lives, then we not going to get any better than just being able to read a few key words in a sentence.
That sounds pretty exciting! And fun! I am currently studying Japanese.. And I've always been interested to hear anyone talking in a foreign language. Would it be on the street, subway, etc. Especially such east-Asian languages namely including Korean and Japanese. Your reaction is normal in my opinion. There's nothing bad to be excited; on the other hand I don't think anyone would ever have a problem with that. It just depends on the circumstances if you can talk to the person, or not. I myself have been in a situation talking to a native several times. I remember when visiting some hostel, there were two Japanese and I just talked to them. After that, we continued the conversation with things like how I study, what my interests are and so on. Judging by myself, the only thing I'd input is that it's good not to be obsessed. That doesn't mean not to have dreams though. Personally, I love listening to K-pop, and consider Korean a wonderful language as well! So your reaction is something close to how I'd react I believe! ( ^ω^ )
In my case I have daily access to a native speaker of the language I'm learning as she is one of my best friends. So I am learning Ukrainian, one of the more neglected languages on Duolingo, in order to communicate with her, just because I thought it would be fun and because Ukrainian is a beautiful language. It gives us an opportunity to laugh at my horrible pronunciation or get very quick feedback when I'm doing well. I'm also using Memrise, Youtube, and other Ukrainian websites to learn outside of Duolingo. It's been interesting. In less than a week I'm already at level nine and can say novel phrases that at least seem to be both appropriate to the situation and entertaining at the same time. Я добре студентка!
ooh this happened to me so often at my first job which was customer service, and there were a lot of people who can only speak (or who are much more comfortable speaking) spanish in the general area. i had been studying spanish in school for a while and because it was so similar to italian (which i grew up hearing) it sort of came naturally to me. but when it came to speaking spanish with the natives i would always freeze up too and just talk in english, which on occasion became very chaotic.
then one night i saw what looked like two siblings and their mom. the siblings were bilingual but the mom only knew spanish, and i began speaking english as usual, and the siblings translated it into spanish. the mother wanted nuts and wanted to know what kind we had, and i could tell she wanted almonds. without thinking i blurted out "no tenemos almendras, solo nueces y maní." i think she was really surprised because i don't really look like a native spanish speaker, but we had a whole conversation in spanish afterwards, which was groundbreaking for me.
i think you just have work up the courage to put yourself out there. or if you're spontaneous like me, it'll just come out when you least expect it. like others said, most people will be forgiving and are able to tell that you're just learning, and they'll be glad to help you in your quest to learn the language. hopefully that'll be a boost of confidence for you. it was for me at least :)
I had that experience a couple of times that I remember. When I landed in France, after studying French for YEARS and having a father who was French/English bilingual, I found at the airport that not a single word would come out of my mouth. Later on in that same trip, I managed much better. Another time, I was in the US with an American friend; she had been an exchange student in Germany and I had studied German. An elderly couple stopped us to ask directions, clearly didn't speak good English, but somehow it was clear that they were German; my friend jumped right in and once again I was completely tongue-tied. So it happens!
What helped me in that trip to France and Switzerland was that after my sister joined me, we agreed that ONE of us would do the talking and the other stay quiet and maybe even go out of the store!
In my case of going to France, I had studied the language for twelve years and was incredibly fluent, yet one of the first things I asked for from a kiosk in the airport was a "box of water" because I was thirsty! At least the shopkeeper didn't question it and sold me the bottle anyway!
Not sure it's freaking out, but...
I had two different opportunity's to speak to foreigners.
The first was a simple situation in a local market. I overheard a man swearing in German as he was searching for a product. I asked him, in German, "What are you looking for?"
Without looking at me he answered, in German, "I'm looking for soap." He froze, and slowly turned around. With a surprised look on his face, and a bit of a question in his voice, he replied in German, "I'm looking for dishwasher soap." He was clearly astounded that someone in America knew German.
I then proceeded to show him where it was. I felt extremely satisfied that not only was I able to help this gentleman, but I was able to use my German to do it.
The second time it happened to me was also with my German. I was camping at a week-long, air show, and one day while standing in line for the men's shower, I was talking to the man in front of me. The man behind me was listening intently, but only answering in simple English phrases like "yes" and "no" and "very interesting." By his accent I determined that he must be German or Austrian. I then asked him, in German, "Excuse me, but are you German?
He's eyes lit up as big as saucers, and he blurted out, "Yes, I'm German!"
He then proceeded to rattle off a long string of German descriptions and comments that finally lost me. I kept up with him as long as I could, but my vocabulary isn't very extensive. I finally got him to slow down, explained to him that I hadn't spoken German in a long time, but I was really enjoying talking to him.
He froze, stared at me for a moment, and then told me that my German was perfect. He couldn't believe that I wasn't a regular speaker. (Of course, he was doing most of the talking by that point!)
It was a wonderful compliment that made me feel proud of the work that I had put in trying to learn German, but I was happier about being able to make a guest of my country feel just a little more at home during his stay.
I got excited just reading this post! I love seeing natives of the language I am learning but it also makes me feel very anxious to talk to them and I'm a bit shy to say anything to them. Once I went to a local town fair and there was practically nobody there and it got really boring but then out of the blue I saw a Korean couple and their kid and I got excited when I heard them speak. I also understood a little bit of what they said and it made me so happy. That was honestly the highlight of the fair. I'm so glad you got that experience. Also, seeing the natives speak is a great motivator for me.
Yes. Even a language classroom feels much safer than "out in the wild." I think it was even harder when I was young.
Last year I went to Japan for the first time in decades. I had some Japanese lessons as a kid and two semesters in college, but nothing for over 20 years. I was terrified when I walked up to a shop keeper and asked for my first thing. And my honest experience was that most people outside my family were quite impatient with me for not knowing Japanese.
But I kept at it anyway, and I got better every day. So that's the only advice I can think of--seek out more situations and opportunities to be around people who speak the language, and keep taking baby steps. Good luck!
You may find it helpful to have a catalyst of some kind - a common talking point, then the other person's and your own attention isn't on each other, but on the talking point. An example could be the other person's dog or camera or something they're wearing. That way you can take some time to learn a few extra phrases and words to do with that and have then ready to use. I have been learning my wife's Dutch language and have made my mind up not to speak English if I see an interesting bicycle someone has, but learned a few specific cycle related words so I can stay in Dutch. Don't be afraid. People almost always respond positively if they hear someone making an effort to speak their native tongue. Older people are often a good 'target', as they tend to speak more slowly and be a little more patient. Good luck !</pre>
I believe it is completely normal to
freak out when meeting people who are speaking the same language you are learning. It comes from the facts that, sitting in front of our computer and learning a language is not stressful at all. We don`t have to hurry and if we make a mistake, noboby cares. However, when meeting people, it is a totally different feeling and approach. We are being rushed to find the right expression / word etc.... To me, it is totally normal! :)
When I called France to buy CD's for my sister I had NO IDEA that the person who answered didn't know English! When he said you can call back to speak to the manager, I was hesitant because I didn't want to call BACK. So, even though I was SOOO NERVOUS to speak in french, I told him that I speak a little french and said we could TRY and put the order through. So, we did it slowly and he helped me with how to say the credit card, my address and it was QUITE an experience! However, when he said "You speak french VERY WELL, and you did REALLY GOOD", I was SO ELATED! It can be extremely NERVERACKING to speak to someone in their native language. My sister couldn't do it as she once called a Store in Quebec and asked and they spoke in french and she didn't get a word and just said "Merci, au revoir" and hung up. haha So, this is why she asked me to call France as my native french teacher told me I have a great french accent and speak french well. I probably wouldn't have done it otherwise. When I took french from another native he too, said that my accent and pronunciation with french was very good, though he wasn't such a great teacher, unfortunately. It just makes you feel more confident when you have opportunities like this and prove your teachers right as well as prove to yourself you can speak to natives and they will be impressed. When I started to take Hindi, the teacher told me the same thing, "you have a GREAT accent and can pronounce things well." Unfortunately she moved and I didn't get to learn Hindi like I wanted, maybe someday. :) I always say that "Je parle francais un peu" and let it unfold from there. :) Hopefully once I get to go on italki for one on one for learning to speak more "fluidly" I will really be able to start to speak it more to more native french! :) THAT EXCITES me!! :) CELEBRATE EVERY small step you make as they are what lead to larger more productive one's! :) Congrats on just getting started! :) Bonne Chance! :) Keep up the GREAT work!! :)
When visiting New York, I was sitting in the lobby of my hotel waiting for a ride back to the airport. An Italian family was also waiting for a ride. I heard mom and dad talking and asked, “Siete Italiani?” When they said yes (plus many other things) I admitted I spoke only a little. The 10 year old twins were excited to find someone who understood them. I didn’t, of course. But what’s to understand when a bomb blows up Mario. “Boom!” For the duration of our wait and ride to the airport, I was their new best friend. They were thrilled to find someone in NYC who understood them. Later a bystander told me the kids were so comfortable with me she thought I must be their nanny. I figure I had roughly the Italian language skills of a 5-7 year. old.
Same happens to me a lot because I have a few Korean restaurants around me and I go to one almost every week and last time I wrote "thank you!" in Korean on the receipt and he saw it and looked up at me and smiled. Also, for my birthday I went to a higher class one and the old lady (she was like, 45-50) that was our waitress was also her birthday so we sang happy birthday to each other in Korean and I ordered in Korean and she like, pet my head. And on my way out, she said, "Do you know 'i love you' in Korean?" And I said, "사랑해요!" and she said it back and gave me the biggest, warmest hug ever. Now (its a few months later) and my family and I joke around how she is my Korean mother
Start with, "I am learning Korean but I am so bad at it. I wish I could speak like you."
This will free you of the need to speak fluently, making you feel more confident and improving your fluency. It will also endear you to your audience.
I've tried this trick and it always works. The native speakers become extra-nice and accomodating when you start like this.
when i was younger, i was on vacation and my family stayed in a little condo. we went to the community pool at night and there was a group of french people there. i could understand all they were saying, and apparently they called me and my brother "small children." so i just yelled, in perfect french, "I'M NOT A SMALL CHILD!!" (i was). that's the only time i haven't frozen up trying to speak another language to a native though smh
i used to work with a brasilian pharmacist, whom i heared speaking portuguese several times on the phone.
as i was quite new, i didn't have many opportunities to talk with her.
one day she helped me in the pharmacy, and i told her muito obrigada.
then she opened her eyes, surprised, saber que falo português, and thereafter she always continuou falar em português comigo.
I am learning German and I work for a German company in the US. I come across Germans every once in a while and I always try to speak German. When they respond (usually very excited) I just kind of lock up and say Ja. I understand a lot of what they say but words just don't come very quickly to me yet. It is frustrating but I always make an effort at least.
When I hear people speaking Italian near me I want to get out of that place or space that second lol! Maybe its just anxiety from maybe not knowing what they are saying if a conversation starts because I'm panicking (I can only really make small talk with family members because they only speak Sicilian not "classic Italian" as they like to call it so I cant practice with them lol)
What Jan Jim and Shiahsb said.
For my trip to Japan, I write some little scripts of my likely conversations, always starting with "I have just started learning, so my Japanese is not good.". Then the usual "I am here in Japan to visit my grandmother's family... I studied at a University in New York etc. For my job I am a _.
People like to have a small conversation and moved on with a big smile. People generally LOVE that you are learning their language so very much. Most people really are often very much more polite and patient and helpful after you show the open acceptance of their language.
In your situation, when someone is taking a photo, I often offer to take a photo of ALL of them (usually accepted).
I like the Netherlands bicycle conversation cued up.
For our Duolingo Japanese practice group (we meet weekly), I am writing some scenario scripts to act out so that we will all become more comfortable with some topical small conversations.
Good luck with your studies and conversations!
(Some really nice stories on this thread)
One situation where I have been absolutely tongue-tied is when someone speaking one language learns that I speak a third language. Back in college days I was part of an intensive Chinese program and took an advanced Spanish conversation course to keep up my Spanish. I had no problem until the teacher asked me about learning Chinese. Suddenly I could think what to say in English or Chinese but not in Spanish. It seemed like an eternity before I could stammer out an answer. I can still remember the bemused look he gave me.
Oh freaking out is the worst ;A;
My lv at the time was 6 months in, knowing present, past, future tenses & quite a bit of daily phrases.
I once heard a few Colombians where we were and I was all excited and jumpy and... when I explained my brother they spoke Spanish he kinda laughed smiled at me, understanding why his language-but-especially-spanish-obsessed-sister is acting like that.
But my dad didn't.
I didn't notice but he asked him what's going on and my brother told him. Not 5 seconds later and I hear my dad calling me from a bit away... standing with the Colombians.
I. Freaked. Out. I was so confused and excited... I understood them clearly but I couldn't find what to say... Later I thought about what just happened and just facepalmed "ugh, I used such basic sentences… I even forgot how to say What's your name!"
My dad was so proud though xD If only he could understand my chatting-through-typing level… :P
If you want to get good at speaking the language, you need to practice speaking it, with another live person. You might try to find a language exchange partner, maybe someone in korea who wants to learn English or whatever languages you're most fluent in. Then you could help each other. You might both be nervous at first, but it shouldn't take long to get past that.
Another option would be to hire a tutor. Often you can find very reasonably priced tutors available on iTalki. The downside of the tutor is that it isn't free, but on the other hand if you're paying someone you might be less nervous about the interaction, because you're literally hiring them to help you and be patient with you. As you get more comfortable speaking with them, you'll likely be more comfortable stretching in real life situations like the one you described above.
I am studying Spanish, so I have had an easier time of things, as I worked for some years around Hispanics. I quickly learned some phrases before my Duo days: "Muy poquito" and "Algo mas?" Being in a DriveThru gave me a lot of practice at the basic points, lol. Good job on trying to communicate with native speakers! That did take courage, and I'm glad that you were encouraged by it.
When you speak to someone in their native language it shows a certain interest and respect. They really appreciate your effort regardless of your skill level in their language. Relax and know that they are focusing on your good nature and not your language proficiency. Be bold and nice, people will respond in kind.
At my college, there is a study room near my last class for studying languages. I decided to pop in to study Japanese, only to find the teacher in that room is native Japanese. Definitely was a bit excited there, haha. She tries to get me to speak a lot, and I do sometimes but I struggle a lot for sure.
What I would do (and actually am doing :) ) is have a basic conversation with someone that speaks the language you are studying. It should be someone that you know, and then, as you get better, you can start speaking Korean to strangers. The thing is, if you are an introvert sort of person, then maybe just avoid speaking Korean until you feel confident enough.
That's part of what worries me as well. What if i get something wrong, pronounciation or grammar, and I end up insulting the native speaker?
One thing I've found that helps: First, let them know I'm a beginner and may make mistakes, then think of how happy I get when someone has the courage to speak norwegian with me at the same level. Stg every time it happens my heart is about to explode.
It might depend on what language you're learning, but I at least find germans very forgiving (bless them).
I am in the EXACT same position!!
We get so many german tourists during the summer, and they're super nice people. But I haven't gotten the courage to speak to them in german yet. And I always stand there when they leave like "do I say tschüss? Is that ok, or too informal for a stranger?" And I don't want to be rude either.
But!! I can understand most of what they say, so that's progress. :D
However, I am planning on taking a language course over a few weeks in München when i get the time and money for it. Living with a host family and stuff. So then I'll be forced to use it! No excuses!!
I've has a similar experience, too. I used to be really good at Chinese (Mandarin, for the 3 of you who care), but ever since I moved to Canada, my Chinese has eroded down and down, so one, when I took a trip back to China, I heard some random people talking in Chinese, and I could not understand a lot they could say, other then some bits here and there. then, being the *diot i am, I went up to them and said. "hi." and they just stared at me. creepy! XDXDXD