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https://www.duolingo.com/blakemay

Any Tips On Conquering Fear Of Speaking A Foreign Language?

blakemay
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Hi everyone! I am an American who speaks Spanish and am learning Portuguese. I am relatively confident In my Spanish, most of my texts are in Spanish as well as my phone, I watch Spanish movies etc. I also travel to Mexico. There I speak Spanish all the time with no fear but here, in the U.S.A. I find it so terrifying to speak Spanish to a native speaker. I always get so excited but I can never bring myself to actually do it. Does anyone have any tips/words of wisdom for just going for it and getting over this fear? Thank you>

3 years ago

19 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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Wow I wasn't expecting that you could speak it comfortably in one place but not another. My standard advice otherwise would have been to speak it regularly alone and to your pets if you have any. Speak to yourself in the mirror or in front of photographs, but most importantly to speak it a lot everyday.

My next advice is to see if any of your friends speaks English and Spanish, then use both with them and transition to just Spanish.

But, you've got me stumped. I think the last thing I can suggest then is just to make a friend and respectfully dive in. The sooner you do the sooner you'll get comfortable. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/blakemay
blakemay
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well in Mexico they didn't speak English at all so it was the only way, it made me comfortable:

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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That makes sense then.

Maybe spend some time during you study practices closing your eyes and imagining successful attempts to converse. Even make up what they say in your mind and then answer them out loud.

My motto is to be creative. Do what works.

I'm in a sign language club full of mostly second year ASL university students. I'm new and teaching myself online through a video series I found. When I watch the videos, I sometimes go off track and pretend I'm in a real conversation with them. I go off track from the prompts and incorporate longer answers into my signs and then ask them questions. It helped me to just jump in.

Good luck! I hope you'll come back and let us know what worked for you. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DeutscheMaus
DeutscheMaus
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Well that is great that you could communicate in Mexico with your Spanish! I would actually be more nervous doing that than speaking Spanish here in the States because I would think the Spanish in Mexico might be more formal or not be as casual and slangy as it is here in the States (like with Spanglish and so forth). I would think you would feel like a pro after your success in Mexico! Very cool!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thenoblesunfish
thenoblesunfish
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Drink a couple of beers.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thenoblesunfish
thenoblesunfish
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And don't be afraid to switch back and forth between the languages. Spanish speakers in the U.S. do it constantly, so you shouldn't be afraid to.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Klgregonis
Klgregonis
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Agree - sometimes in the same sentence. Try speaking Spanish, if the person responds in English go back to English - they may be trying to improve their English skills. Otherwise, I find that people seem to enjoy helping out, and feel good when you try to speak their language.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tnel1
tnel1
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Yes! Agreed! :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rob2042

After "Hola" or "Buenos días" explain that you speak a little Spanish. It does not matter how much you actually speak. Don`t let the conversation go over you head. If the person starts to speak too quickly ask him or her to slow down and remind them you speak "un poco".

BTW, you speak comfortably in Mexico because you have to. You could probably achieve the same in the States if you went to a supermercado or Mexican fair where mostly Spanish is spoken. We have them here in Vegas which is very helpful.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tnel1
tnel1
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Find a location where you find an overwhelming number of native speakers and they are comfortably speaking with each other in Spanish and not using much English. Your best bet is a restaurant or a mercado. Then just dive in like it is Mexico - because it is! :) Ask people where in Mexico they are from, ask directions, ask if they have a certain product. When I was in Mexico I'd practice just by asking multiple people for directions to the same place. :) Just that could end up being an adventure!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MaggiePye
MaggiePye
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I was going to suggest this--put yourself in situations where you basically have to speak Spanish, just as you do when you travel.

(I would hesitate to ask where in Mexico people are from unless you know for a fact that they were born in Mexico. A lot of my Mexican-American students spoke Spanish as their primary language [they were fluent in English as well--they turned up in my Spanish classes because it was the only place in school they would be taught the grammar rules for Spanish], but they were born in the US, were US citizens, and got really annoyed with people who would ask them "Where do you come from?" "I was born here. Like, in the same hospital you were.")

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tnel1
tnel1
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I'm Chicana, my bio reads like many of your students, so my advice comes from that perspective. It is quite natural to ask people where in Mexico they are from. It is quite easy to tell, typically, if someone is from the US or from Mexico if you've travelled there and gotten to know people as the OP has. I think people of Mexican descent would be quite impressed if you know the geography and peoples and history. :) Of course they/me/we would be offended if one approaches it from a negative angle. I have experienced this personally as well - a lot. The OP didn't strike me as one to be rude or insensitive, hence my suggestion.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MaggiePye
MaggiePye
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I'm just thinking about the fact that there's been a pretty big influx of very young Duo users of late--I agree, I don't think the OP would be insensitive, but people come in and read threads even when they aren't the OP. That was meant as more general advice than directed at the OP--it really can be a hurtful question to some people, especially given the current anti-immigrant attitude in some parts of the US.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tnel1
tnel1
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But it doesn't have to be. And you are underestimating the ability of people to be decent and friendly. Even after all the racism I've experienced (and taught extensively about at the University level) it goes too far to say you can't ask someone what part of Mexico/the U.S./wherever they grew up in. (Especially in the context of friendly travel discussions which is what I was describing as the op has travelled in Mexico and spoken with people comfortably there already.) It's all in how you ask it.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/doulingo-fire

You should listen to the spanish radio

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DeutscheMaus
DeutscheMaus
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Oy, I wish I had some tips for you Blakemay because I am in the same boat. I work on my German lessons every day but when I think about a native German speaker standing in front of me and speaking to me, my knees shake! :) Speaking is, in my opinion, always the hardest when one is learning a new language. I am not as hesistant with speaking Spanish because I grew up around it and I have had practice speaking a bit of it with my family. I did have a question for you though! Why are you okay with speaking Spanish in Mexico but not here in the U.S.?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/boncey
boncey
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What about finding a Spanish language meetup in your town (you can find them on meetup.com)? I've just started learning and was terrified about speaking when I went to my first meetup but after attending 2 or 3 it doesn't scare me at all. My problems now are more about lack of vocabulary and understanding what people say to me. :-)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HSpiritGirl

Hola Duolingo amigo.... Mi sugerencia? Feel the fear and do it anyways! Experience has taught me...that is the only way to get over a fear. Put yourself in the situation and JUST DO IT....often and repeatedly. Le deseamos todo lo mejor en esta empresa! Tú eres más que capaz! Saludos!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vcel10
vcel10
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Just dive in the water and take a plunge? Soon you will realize that it is not so cold but fun? It's still hard to do . . . pero me gusta su buen consejo

3 years ago