How did you or do you overcome your fear of speaking the language your learning to native speakers? I'm learning Japanese and I enjoy it very much. But when is time to speak to native speakers I find myself backing away from conversations or avoiding the language by using English. What did you do to overcome this?
Mar 27, 2019 4:30 PM
Comments · 11
The struggle is real! For the most part, I only speak Spanish to people who really don't know English, or when I'm in a Spanish-speaking country, or when I'm paying for a Spanish lesson. Try to find people who don't speak English, and then it's not a choice. Good luck!
March 27, 2019
Don't be afraid. Your listeners don't judge your Japanese unless they are teachers.
 I'm impressed by someone tries speaking Japanese very hard. You are respected when you speak Japanese.
April 27, 2019

I had about 300 lessons in Mandarin and had the same fears. Most of my lessons were with community tutors and we talked around the same subjects building up familiarity in commonly occurring topics.

Two things really helped me:

1) Increasing listening skills - IMHO, this is more than half the battle. You get much further if you have good listening skills with limited speaking skills than the other way round. Once you start to understand people in front of you, you have less inclination to run away.

2) massively increasing practising repetitions of sentences by listening and shadowing until I could speak fairly smoothly and practicing again. I was only doing less than 10 reps a sentence. It takes one to two hundred or more of purposeful reps to get a sentence out smoothly without hesitation. Couldn't believe the effect it had and I have been kicking myself for not doing it earlier.

These two study tactics will improve your confidence which is what is required.

Other tips: minimise reading when practicing speaking. You don't have a piece of paper with Japanese stuck to the front of someone's face when you talk to them.

Recently, I went to China and had no choice but to speak Mandarin. It went well. :-) Guess what study tactics I will use when I start learning Japanese... haha.

April 27, 2019
ビールを飲みます。(I drink beer. It's great for my accent too!)
April 27, 2019
You’re already taking paid lessons, so without wanting to sound like a commercial, I’m going to recommend you keep doing that for a while. Even a low-priced community tutor (with a few hundred lessons in the can and repeat students) should be able to get you speaking no matter how shy you are. It has nothing to do with teaching credentials — it’s all about understanding the learner and the teaching process. That’s a minimum requirement — if a tutor cannot do that, you simply need to get a different tutor. After you’ve built up some language skill, conversation strategies / tactics, and confidence, you can practice with other native speakers. Keep in mind that it is just as hard for Japanese people to learn English as for you to learn Japanese, so they’re too busy being self-conscious to even notice your shyness. Finally, consider that you’ve chosen a language that is not related to you own in any way, so it’s going to take three or four times longer to learn than, say, French or Swedish. 

March 27, 2019
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