Weekly Tip: Be comfortable being uncomfortable 🙂
Studying, reading and writing a language can become comfortable within a reasonable timeframe. On the other hand, speaking it and understanding it are quite a different matter.
The thing is that speaking a language and understanding it are the most important aspects of learning a language…and the scariest to master because it means putting yourself out there and feeling vulnerable. There’s no way to get around it though. If you want to communicate better, you must speak. If you want to understand people’s responses, you must listen. ¡No te queda otra! (There’s no other way/you have no other choice)
So the first thing you need to understand is that you DO NOT sound stupid or like a kindergartner!!!!!!!! I hear this all the time from students. What you do sound like is someone learning an entirely different language than their own, someone who is cultured enough to want to learn a foreign language. That’s what you sound like! So please, I beg you, let go of the feeling that you sound stupid, because you don’t. When you talk to a foreigner, do YOU think they sound stupid? Or do you admire them for learning to speak English? Or are you thanking God that you’re able to communicate in your own language?
When you first start speaking, only speaking in class is fine. But soon you will need to venture out into the world and start using your Spanish. One of the easiest ways to become comfortable speaking Spanish is by talking to yourself. It may sound silly, but it works. It gives you the practice that you need (it doesn’t need to be perfect) and it allows you to grow accustomed to hearing your voice in a foreign language, so that eventually it doesn’t sound so foreign. So whatever thoughts you’re having in your head, try saying them in Spanish, outloud.
When you start to speak Spanish out in the world, make sure that you tell people that you are learning Spanish. Spanish speakers tend to be patient, understanding and quite excited when someone wants to practice their Spanish with them! Not everyone of course, but I would say that 95% of people do.
Listening is the other aspect of communication that is very important. I will be doing an entire tip just on listening, so I won’t address it in detail at this time. But I will tell you that watching tv is one of the best ways to develop your listening skills and that developing these skills is absolutely necessary.
So go out into the world and allow yourself to feel a bit uncomfortable! It’s ok. No pasa nada 🙂 (no worries) I promise that you will not burst into flames!