Understand your fear of speaking French :
What you need to know is that you are not really afraid to speak a foreign language. No, you really want to speak a foreign language.
The problem is that all the psychological aspects around speaking a foreign language are blocking you.
Fear is the result, which is the same for most people who want to speak a foreign language.
But, what are the reasons that provoke this fear?
From this list, check off the reasons that provoke your fear of speaking a foreign language. You may have several reasons, such as one or all of them:
☐ I am shy
☐ I don't trust myself
☐ I'm going to make a fool of myself
☐ I'm afraid of making mistakes
☐ I want to be perfect and master everything as in my mother tongue.
☐ The gaze of others disturbs me
☐ I'm very stressed when I have to talk and it blocks me
Identify what is most problematic for you :
Now that you have pointed out the psychological elements that make you afraid to speak French. Now think about what can really make it difficult for you to speak and what you need to improve in order to gradually erase this fear.
Indeed, it will be easier to overcome your fear by identifying your weak points in the target language and improving them.
This will allow you to gain confidence, be better prepared and better manage your stress.
Be careful, it is important to try to have enough hindsight to judge your weak points. I have had students who were convinced that their pronunciation was catastrophic, yet I had no problem understanding them.
Make a note of all your little weaknesses. So, yes, I know it's not too funny to do this, but don't be discouraged. It will help you a lot to improve these points so that you can finally speak French without fear.
In the French conversations you've already had, what has been a problem for you, linguistically speaking?
Did you lack vocabulary? Did you have difficulty formulating structured sentences? Did you notice any gaps in grammar? Did you have difficulty understanding what you were being told?
Take a sheet of paper and write down all the points you need to improve in French, especially in oral communication.
No one speaks perfect French (even Francophones) :
Depuis que je suis professeure de français et que j'ai voyagé dans diverses régions et pays, je me suis rendue compte qu'il n'existait pas de français parfait.
Certains disent "pain au chocolat", d'autres "chocolatine". On entend "le Covid" et "la Covid". Les Belges disent "la toilette", les Français "les toilettes". Et ils ont tous raison. Car, c'est leur réalité, leur vérité.
Alors, je ne dis pas qu'on peut dire tout et n'importe quoi et que ça ira. Non, ce que je veux vous faire comprendre, c'est qu'il est inutile de chercher la perfection, de chercher à parler un français parfait, car pour certains il ne sera jamais parfait si vous dites tel mot de cette façon ou si vous prononcez ce mot de cette façon.
Votre objectif ne doit pas être de parler parfaitement français, mais d'arriver à communiquer parfaitement en français. En d'autres mots, vous devez comprendre ce qu'on vous dit et vos interlocuteurs doivent vous comprendre.
Accept to make mistakes :
Does a child manage to walk on his first attempt? No, he falls several times, he tries again, he persists, he learns from his mistakes and finally he walks.
You will go through the same process before reaching your goals in French. Don't expect to get there the first time. In order to progress, it is mandatory to make mistakes.
Making mistakes is also a very good thing. It is a very good indicator of what has been achieved and what still needs to be improved.
Not making a mistake proves your evolution. Making a mistake shows what you still need to improve.
The more you accept your mistakes, the more progress you will make. Rely on them to progress and to learn even more.
The more you accept your mistakes, the more progress you will make. Rely on them to progress and to learn more.
You are not alone in this situation :
Do you think you are the only one who has difficulty speaking a foreign language? Oh, I assure you I am not!
All adults who embark on learning a foreign language encounter the same linguistic and psychological difficulties.
It took me years before I finally dared to speak in English without being afraid!
So now I don't speak perfect English, I still make a lot of mistakes. On the other hand, I understand what I am told and I manage to make myself understood very well and this is for me a great success, even if I know that I still need to improve.
And you know what? The day I really started to improve is the day I stopped being afraid to speak in English, afraid to make mistakes, afraid to be ridiculous.
Most of the people I practice with are very caring and always congratulate me on the fact that I speak English. It helps a lot to gain self-confidence.
I will say it again: you are not alone in facing difficulties and fears in learning a language.
It's true that when you practice with a native speaker you don't see his difficulties, because it's his mother tongue, but I assure you that if you ask him to speak in another language, he will be in the same situation as you are.
And if you want to go further, join my French conversation group: Ohlala French Coffee.
See you soon for new adventures, in French of course! 🇫🇷