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How to overcome the anxiety of speaking a foreign language?

Have you ever felt worried or anxious when you were about to speak in foreign language? Suddenly you forgot everything you wanted to say or you couldn’t concentrate at all. Does it sound familiar?

Let’s find out what can we do about it. πŸ™‚

Have you ever felt worried or anxious when you were about to speak in foreign language? Suddenly you forgot everything you wanted to say or you couldn’t concentrate at all. Does it sound familiar? if so, don’t worry – you are not the only one. πŸ™‚

One of the English learners who was experiencing similar problem asked me this question:

My mind gets blank and I struggle to speak in English when I am with people who have much better English knowledge than me. What should I do?

Note: The learner also mentioned that an example of such a stressful situation is meeting with managers in a company who have far better English knowledge.

Here’s my suggestion:

Thank you very much for this question.

I can completely relate to your problem because I have experienced something similar in the past. I believe that the underlying problem is our psychology – when we are dealing with someone who we think is better than we are in some way we can feel intimidated, or frightened.

This isn’t related to speaking in a foreign language only – we can have similar experience when dealing with our boss, potential partner on a first date, and so on…

The reason our “mind gets blank” is because of the stress we are experiencing at that moment and the way we are focusing our thoughts.

The problem is also that this negative experience works as a reference for the future. That means – when we are about to get to the similar situation again, we can start feeling stressed even before the situation begins.

How to overcome this? πŸ™‚ (or what has helped me personally?)

  • Focus is the key – we have to stop focusing on the negatives – don’t think about managers as some “special people” who have “perfect English”. It might be true, but it will make you feel unworthy. Don’t even compare your skills with theirs.
  • Think about the situation differently. Think that you are going to have a nice conversation with another human being, your friend, or colleague. Focus on the goal of the conversation you are going to have.
  • Then, we need the practice – it’s going to take some time until we are ok with the situation itself. We have to expose ourselves to the similar situation again and again – and create positive reference.
  • What has helped with my confidence in speaking a lot is Power English program.

Another reason that can stop us from speaking English is the fear of making mistakes. Watch the following video and learn what can we do about it. πŸ™‚ The video is over 30 minutes long but it is worth watching.

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Have you ever had the similar experience in your life? What has helped you to overcome it? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. πŸ™‚

4 replies on “How to overcome the anxiety of speaking a foreign language?”

Hi Ivan

What was this video about? apparently video has deleted, is it on youtube?

And i also want to say, I red all articles of your blog and they were really helpful for me and I
also download your “English The smart way” and i think there will be more useful stuff about your experience of learning english. Thank You ^ – ^

Hi Vahid, thank you very much. πŸ™‚

The video is on youtube and when I am writing this comment it is still available – maybe because of some error it didn’t load. You can try to refresh the page.

Enjoy the ebook and feel free to share your experience with it. πŸ™‚

thanks, i watched it and like always A J advices were great!

I have a question that i got different answers when i asked about it
some people, i mean English teachers says you must learn English with English, I mean
they try to say that don’t use to translate English words to your mother tongue to learn and
remember words, just write the word or phrase and then write a definition for it, obviously all in English.

But Sometimes I really feel when i’m learning a vocabulary with write the meaning of it in
my own language I remember that word for longer time. What do you suggest? i red almost all of your PDF book and just a few pages remained – it was really useful i love to talk about it in future – but you didn’t talk about your methods of learning words, did you used to write words meaning in your first language?

thanks again,

Thank you Vahid. πŸ™‚

When I started learning English, I used to make notes (vocabulary including) in my native language only. When my English got better, I started to “learn english with english” – as you mentioned in your comment.

But, sometimes. when I make notes about new English words I use my native language – because now-and-then it can be difficult to describe the meaning in English. πŸ™‚

So I would suggest this: If you can remember the word longer when you write down its meaning in your own language – do it that way. I believe we should use the techniques that works for us. Or you can combine both languages and do it as I do it. πŸ™‚

You are right – I don’t talk about learning words in my ebook. It’s a good point though and I will try to cover the topic in a blog post later.

Anyways, I think that a very good way of learning new words is to read and listen a lot. I have learnt many words just by reading for exampe – let’s say you understand 90% of the book you are reading. But still there are 10% of new words. First time you encounter a new word, you just look it up in the dictionary to find out what it means. Then you are reading and reading more… and suddenly you will encounter the same word again.

Even if you don’t remember the exact meaning of the word, the sentence where the word is used works like a riddle – it will try to help you remember the meaning of the word.

Over time you will encounter the same exact word maybe 20 times or more and it becomes almost impossible to forget the new word. πŸ™‚ And best thing about it? We are actually enjoying the book and learning vocabulary at the same time. πŸ™‚