We introverts, as a rule, are not born outstanding speakers, we usually say little, but to the point and specifically. We do not unnecessarily prolong the speech or waste our breath. Many of us also have problems with spontaneous statements, and thus with a dynamic conversation. No wonder, after all, most of the words that come out of our mouths are carefully thought out beforehand, which requires time and concentration. What if we want or even have to express ourselves in a foreign language? Well, as a purebred introvert and WWO with a travel bug, I must admit that it was sometimes hard, especially at the beginning. But it's definitely something that can be tamed if we just put our language learning into perspective and have some determination.
Since it's not as scary as it may seem to be, there are a few tricks that you should implement to learn more effectively - all of them are described below. So I wish you a pleasant reading and good luck! Important: congratulations to those of you who take up the challenge of learning languages - because you are already far ahead of those who have never even tried :-)
1. Take a comprehensive approach to learning
If you are an introvert, there is a good chance that you are more comfortable with the written than the spoken word. For many sensitive people, even listening to dialogues or monologues leads to overstimulation. We also don't like to talk and we don't feel confident about it, having trouble choosing words. So what to do? Unfortunately, when learning a language, complexity is important and it is difficult to ignore the speaking or listening part. In the end, our goal is actually about being able to have a conversation in a foreign language. If you try to learn this only from books, it will be ineffective. So find forms of language practice that include writing and reading as well as speaking and listening, but which are as little annoying as possible for you. For example, if you listen to the radio on your way back from work, use foreign radio stations that are available through free phone applications (I recommend, for example, Online Radio Box). And if you are afraid to talk in a foreign language, because, let's say, you think that you cannot manage the conversation yet - prepare statements on various topics and record them on the phone. Over time, you will see that it will go more and more efficiently, and you will practice the correct pronunciation. After all, the sooner you start speaking, the less likely it is to make you anxious in the future!
Plus, I will share with you my recent discovery which personally helps me to practice the pronunciation of the English language. I am talking about the Elsa Speak application, which offers a lot of exercises for proper pronunciation, and also listens to our speech and assesses how we are doing. If you dig deeper, you will probably find similar applications for other languages as well. P.S This is not an advertisement, I am just giving you tips based on what works for me;)
2. Accept the moments of silence
It's usually quite easy to distract a highly sensitive person. This may result in losing the thread, forgetting words, or longer pauses in speech. It is not hard to guess that in a foreign language this phenomenon intensifies, causing additional stress, a problem with concentration ... and hare we have the vicious circle. What to do about it? Give yourself time and take your time with the statement. If you need to, signal to the other person that you need a moment to think, or that you just missed a very important word and want to remember it. If you come across a more empathetic interlocutor, he may help you finish what is on the tip of your tongue, or even teach you something new. Moreover, most people show a lot of understanding to people who speak in a language other than their mother tongue, and the slightly slower speech is not surprising.
3. Forget about school methods
Perhaps this point should have been placed at the very beginning, because in my opinion it is the key 'culprit' of our fear or uncertainty when using a foreign language. Well, very often our first contact with other languages takes place during school times and we associate it with ourselves. Unfortunately, the school system wants to make perfectionists and does not tolerate making mistakes at all. Because mistakes usually result in low grades and teacher dissatisfaction. Meanwhile, it is from mistakes that we learn the most, and if we are afraid of them, we will most likely have general concerns about using the language, which is not conducive to development. Remember that a foreign language is primarily a communication system that does not have to be perfect to fulfill its function. Did you get along? That's great! Did you make 10 mistakes? Also good, next time you do maybe one or two less. Besides, your interlocutor probably did not pay attention to them anyway.
4. Native speakers make mistakes too!
The realization of this simple fact helped me a lot in chatting in a foreign language. Do you make any mistakes in your native language every now and then? Do you forget the words sometimes, or do you get so entangled in the grammatical structure that you don't know how to undo it yourself? Well, remember that born users of a language you learn experience exactly the same! So if they do not use the words perfectly, why would you expect that from yourself?
Many people say that when talking to native speakers they stress the most because the other party will always notice their mistakes. Also, they speak perfectly correctly themselves. But this is not true. Moreover, your interlocutor will surely appreciate the fact that you are trying to speak his native language and will be full of admiration, judging your language skills much higher than you think. And if you come across a few exceptions that treat with contempt people who 'mutilate' their beloved and only correct language, answer them fluently ... in Polish. After all, learning languages is essential, right? ;-) And don't worry, apparently you were just unlucky to find a less enlightened human specimen ...
5. Forget about what other people think
All the fear mentioned above has one main source, which is the fear of judgment. We are not afraid of making a mistake (Because objectively speaking - does it hurt anyone? At most you will not get along;) ), but of not living up to expectations and being criticized. And here it is necessary to ask yourself - whose evaluation are you afraid of? Family, friends, strangers? Or maybe your own? Remember that the first case is of little importance, because we were not created to please others at all costs. People who are really important in your life will love you as you are, with all your imperfections. Besides, there is a wonderful saying that 'You can't please everyone'...
A good practical solution for people who are afraid of being judged is to practice the language with foreigners, preferably via the Internet. There are tons of websites and applications that make this possible. For example, I tested the Tandem application, which I can recommend, of course being careful and not sharing too much information about myself. We can write, make calls or leave voice messages - something for each of us. However, if you are afraid that you will not meet your own expectations, think about whether setting such high standards for yourself really serves you. Perhaps, however, the more modest goals will turn out to be more effective, supported by self-understanding without paralyzing pressure?
6. Change the way you think!
For many people, this is the main barrier to using a foreign language - the way of thinking. We want to speak English, French or German, but we still think in Polish. And the other way around. It is especially difficult for us, introverts, because we always try to be precise and accurately express with words what we have o our minds. Meanwhile, such a literal translation of 'native' thoughts into other languages is not only difficult, but sometimes almost impossible.
So, if we want to speak freely in another language, we should delve a bit into the culture of people who use this language from birth. Take time to understand them better, let yourself be infected with their temperament. Because although we are all human, each nationality expresses itself in a slightly different way, has a different approach to life and prefers a slightly different spectrum of emotions. Therefore we have different resource of words and expressions. Interestingly, not only is the worldview influencing the language that people speak in certain parts of the world, but it also works the other way around. It is also the language that shapes our vision of the world. You can hear more about it, for example, here <klik> (in English)
7. A deep dive
At first glance, this is going to be an idiotic advice, considering that I mainly address introverts, but… when learning a language, we should talk as much as possible. With everyone and about everything, tolerating even boring talk about the weather in the name of honing one's own skills. You have probably noticed that the chatty souls start to communicate in foreign languages much faster, and although their skills are not always at a high level, they have no problem with communication. These types of conversations don't always have to be exciting and enjoyable, you might as well treat them as a simple exercise for a specific purpose. If, on the other hand, your innate pragmatism still prevents you from shredding your tongue unnecessarily, the only solution is to throw yourself into the deep end and find yourself in a situation where you have no choice but to speak a foreign language. Going to another country? Foreign friends? Working in an international company? There are many possibilities, so choose the option closest to your heart.
I have noticed that many people talking in international communities create many complexes by comparing their language skills with others. My accent is worse, I know fewer words, or my grammar is lame. Meanwhile, the truth is that for example for us Poles, learning Western languages that are fashionable today will always be quite complicated, mainly because the Polish language has little to do with them. And I don't even mean the similarities within certain language groups, such as, for example, between Polish and Russian. Because if you learn, for example, English, and then you start Spanish, you will surely notice how much you understand about the second language just because it reminds you so much of the first one. And yet English is a Germanic language, and Spanish belongs to the Romance language family! There are many such examples.
Meanwhile, how much does Polish have in common with these languages ...? Exactly. So, unless you start learning Russian, Czech or Slovak, do not be surprised that it is hard for you and you hear a foreign accent. And don't compare yourself with other nationalities. Additionally, Poland is not a country like the Netherlands, where people are almost born bilingual. Why? Because everything is in Polish. There is no content in original languages anywhere, on TV instead of subtitles we hear a Polish voiceover, so we don't even have a chance to get used to other languages. But remember that this is just a reminder not to demand too much of yourself at once, not a demotivation to learn. Because today we have the Internet and access to many sources, people, content and opportunities. As you know, Where there's a will there's a way. And everything is in our hands. And tongues. Regardless of the temperament!