Me: “Blahblahblah.” [talking in English]
Him/her: … [listens attentively in silence]
M: “So what do you think?”
H: “Ummm…I don’t know.” [shrugs with unease]
M: “Did you understand what I said?”
H: “Yes, of course!” [annoyed I thought otherwise]
M: “Cat got your tongue?”
H: “What?! I don’t understand.” [baffled look]
M: “Nothing. Why don’t you say something?”
H: “I can’t speak English.” [in English!]
M: … [poker face in silence]
Have you ever been on either side of such a conversation (in any language)? As an English user and teacher, I see this all the time. The idea of speaking in another language is terrifying for most new learners and they’ll do anything to postpone it. We’re going to take a look at why this issue is so common. Understanding this problem is the first step to any solution. Let’s get that tongue back from the cat!
Can’t Speak English? You’re Not Alone!
Understanding vs. Speaking
The Structure of Languages
Why Is Speaking Harder?
What Can I Do About It?
In order to overcome our fears, we need to accept them first. If anything this post is saying that it’s OK to be scared of speaking a new language. Pretty much everyone who speaks English the way you’d like to, went through something similar at first. Once you come to terms with that, you have two options: give in to fear and let it stop you from learning to speak, or gather your courage and take the necessary steps to go beyond. The choice is up to you.
Soon I’ll write a post about overcoming the fear of speaking. I’ll offer tried and tested methods that can get you talking bit by bit. Till then keep studying and hoping. You’ll need both to succeed.