Getting past Self consciousness when attempting to speak italian?!
Hey everyone :)
Have been learning italian for about 5 weeks now and while I am beginning to understand a little bit, I find that in social situations I am being held back by over self consciousness, I think in italian, but struggle to say it because I'm worried of sounding stupid. I know this is probably a common problem, but I feel it could really hold me back if I do not do something about it...
...maybe there is someone here with similar concerns?
I really am trying so hard, maybe it's my age or maybe I care too much what people think I don't know...
My best suggestion is to just take the bull by the horns and start conversing. When I was learning Sign Language, one of my two teachers was deaf, the other one interpreted for him. If we didn't know a sign, we could ask the interpreter how to sign it or fingerspell it for our deaf teacher who would show us the sign. As part of our class, we had to attend deaf events, some of which were called "Voices Off Suppers". What that meant was if we wanted to talk to someone, we had to sign it. A lot of hearing people didn't engage much, but despite the stares from people around us NOT attending the supper, I decided "You know what, I'm here to learn and improve my signing so I'm going to start a conversation with a deaf person!" They knew Sign Language was NOT my first language and would kindly correct me if I was wrong. I even learned signs we didn't learn in class!
My mom used to support executives from Spain and Italy and sometimes would try her newly-aquired communication skills on them. They would appreciate her effort and kindly correct her. She would often return the favor when they tried their newly-aquired English skills on her. It made communication easier with everyone in her office!
Grabbing the bull by the horns is deffs the best thing to do...just DO IT!! Thanks :) and we'll done to you! :)
Thanks! I'll admit, I was scared at first conversing in Sign Language but the more I did it, the better I got at it!
It is very much about taking the bull by the horns, but it is also very handy to pace yourself. I don't mean as in not speak to people, but I mean when you start a conversation with someone, tell them if they are speaking too fast! It will be very beneficial and you will get better!
I think what really helps the most is to find someone with whom you feel comfortable speaking and really just practice, practice, practice. If you can, try to do a language exchange (Italian help for English help). It takes off a bit of the pressure to know that the other person is also a language learner, so you can share your struggles as well as your expertise!
It's absolutely normal to feel pressure. I remember feeling nervous about speaking in Spanish to my fellow students even when starting graduate school for it! For me, what worked best was finding people who I felt comfortable around and was sure that they weren't going to judge me if I made mistakes. And, in my experience at least, Italians are pretty encouraging and forgiving of mistakes. Throw in a subjunctive verb every once in a while and they'll act like you're the next Dante. : ) Don't be afraid to just sit and mostly listen to conversations as well. It's okay and perfectly normal to be more of a listener than a speaker at first. That's part of the learning process. Just work your way up as you feel comfortable.
Stage fright! Having played guitar and sang in public for more than 40 years – some as a professional – you would think that I would have got over that. But nope. I have completed the Italian tree and have reasonable comprehension of written and spoken Italian but dare not utter a word. I live near Edinburgh and have three(!) Italian families as neighbours but I have not yet presumed to try to converse with them in Italian. I’m even considering going to evening classes to help me pluck up the courage!
We hate exposing ourselves and feeling vulnerable to ridicule, however irrational. I share your angst!
First of all, 5 weeks isn't much, so it's perfectly normal to be self-conscious so early on in the process of language acquisition.
Second, whatever you do, and however much you wait and postpone speaking your target language, when you finally do, you will make silly mistakes. And that's perfectly fine! That's how you learn. What you need to work on is not how to avoid making mistakes, but how to dare make them and not feel bad about it. Every child that has learned to walk has fallen a thousand times, maybe they cried a minute, they got up and they tried again. Language learning is the same.
And the only people who will hold your mistakes against you are the type of people you wouldn't want to interact with anyway. So go ahead, make a fool of yourself, and in a few weeks, look back on how much being a fool helped you learn! Then you'll think : who's the wiser?
Thank you!! I did feel like I should know more but as you put it that way, 5 weeks is not that long in terms of learning a new lingo
Don't worry, you'll get better, but be aware that properly learning a language takes a long time. We're talking about years, sometimes decades. But the good news is you see a lot of progress in the beginning, and by the time it'll feel like you're not learning as much, you will have acquired the confidence in your skills to not let it demotivate you.
True true...I lack patience is perhaps the problem. Impatience I'm guessing is anot her common problem among the language learning community? So perhaps I better bite my tounge and crack on...
I would say have a drink and you might feel more comfortable speaking! I know I do, and I barely ever drink so one really does the trick. That's how I started speaking English! =)
Well, you don't improve if you don't speak. And that's easy to say, but I have suffered from the same self-consciousness. For me, I find that I only really speak a language if I'm forced into it. So I'd suggest finding someone who doesn't speak a lot of English and starting there. If you're anything like me, if the other person's English is decent, I either will always ask how to say something before trying it myself, or I will just default to listening to them speak their language and respond in English - both terrible habits.
So now that I'm always around people who don't speak a lot of English, I just have to speak Italian no matter how stupid I'm sure I sound. :)
Edit: Ah, and now I see your other post, that you are living in Rome. So we are in similar situations.
Thank you saint :) oh! Your in rome too!? Wonderful city isn't it? ;) it's comforting to hear others in the same boat...I will take your advice on board! :P hope you like what I did there haha.
Nonono ... I'm not in Rome, I'm living in Padova. :) It's just similar in that we have the blessing of being surrounded by the language we're learning .. and the curse of being forced to use it. ;)
And I did like what you did there!