Have you ever attempted to talk to someone in another language, but decided against it because you didn't want to mess up? Maybe you did try, but were too embarrassed or even scared to continue?
I personally, have experienced this many times when trying to talk Spanish to my Mexican acquaintances. Some times I wouldn't even attempt to talk to them and other times I would try, but stop because I felt awkward or felt I wasn't saying things right.
I'm still working on it, but these are some of things I've found to be true and help me a lot when trying to speak to a native.
People appreciate it when you talk in their language
First off, you should understand that people love when non-natives speak their language. Even if you are butchering it, most people will be happy that you are at least making an attempt. I've found that people will be glad to help and will correct you if you do make mistakes. No matter how bad you may be, just try. (you have to practice speaking somehow!)
Whenever I try talking to people who speak Spanish, whether is be at the store or a restaurant, their eyes light up. They're surprised that someone who isn't a native is speaking to them in their language, and it's a great feeling.
Just think about it for a moment. If they are always being forced to speak your language by others, how would it make them feel that someone took the time out to learn theirs and is actually interested in their language? They will love it, and they will love you. You'll also make new friends and people will respect you more. What's there to lose?
It's not as scary as you think
The most carefree people who learn languages are the ones who end up learning the best and the fastest. They just don't care if they say something wrong, they just talk and that works. And we know that the more you practice and speak a language, the better you get at it.
People won't laugh at you or scold you (maybe the French will... just teasing!) You won't embarrass yourself or look bad. You will be the coolest person they have met all day.
Even when I did talk to my Spanish acquaintances and mess up, they never cared. They just corrected me and we're happy that I was trying. It was all in my mind. It wasn't really scary.
Think of it this way. If you would just start that conversation up, you will gain experience in speaking and further yourself towards fluency.
It will always happen
Do you ever mess up in your own language when speaking to someone? I bet you have A LOT. It's inevitable that you will mess up at least once or twice in a conversation. Especially if it isn't your first language.
I'm currently living in Kentucky (a state in the US) for a month, and if you could hear how much the people mess up the English language down here... I know people whose first language isn't English that speak better than them. (no offense to any Kentuckians ;))
Unless you're a robot, realize that even natives make mistakes and that you can never be perfect. Being a perfectionist won't get you very far in learning a language.
If you remember these things, you will never have a problem speaking foreign languages anymore. I hope this helped you and look forward to your comments!
Do you have any other helpful tips for people? Do you struggle with this as well?