Are you afraid of speaking Spanish?
We all know very well that we cannot say that we master Spanish or have an ‘intermediate’ or even ‘advanced level’ of Spanish, without speaking it. However, talking to other people, especially native speakers, makes most students nervous, and sometimes students even try to ‘avoid’ speaking. But language is all about communication, and speaking is essential to communicating with others. So, to avoid our students advancing ‘smoothly’ from level to level, filling out exercises and irregular verbs, our teachers confront them with a fun and well-designed series of speaking exercises. So, are you afraid of speaking Spanish? We got your back with our list of tips to help you overcome your fear of speaking Spanish.
Are you afraid of speaking Spanish? Please don’t feel bad; it happens a lot. And we understand. You are worried about ‘making a fool of yourself, or you are afraid of not understanding what you’re being told, of screwing up… Many of our students know when they first arrive and start the Spanish course in Cusco. A good teacher will help you to deal with this so you can finally feel comfortable speaking Spanish freely.
Your apprehension may never completely go away, but there are methods to help you overcome your fears and start talking! First, of course, being in an immersion setting – especially in a country where the language is spoken – is one of the best ways. Being immersed (and overwhelmed) by the language, you are ‘forced’ to speak Spanish to survive. When communication becomes that important, you automatically ‘forget’ ignore your fears and you forget you are afraid of speaking Spanish.
To create this situation, an intensive Spanish immersion course in a country where the language is spoken, as we offer at our Spanish school in Peru, is one of the best ways. In addition, living with a host family and following four, five or more Spanish classes a day is one of the best ways to master the language.
But if it’s not possible for you to travel to a Spanish-speaking country, there are still many things you can do. And also, if you are in a Spanish-speaking country – maybe you’re attending one of our Spanish courses in Cusco – and you still feel that you need to speak more, we have made this list with significant steps for you to overcome your fears of speaking Spanish.
Are you afraid of speaking Spanish?
1. Identify your fear
It is essential to know what exactly scares you. Take some time and analyze what scares you about the idea of speaking Spanish. The source of anxiety varies from person to person; while the thought of not being understood may be the scariest for you, it could be making too many mistakes for someone else. Once you identify what scares you the most, you can focus on resolving the source of your distress.
2. Visualize success in speaking Spanish
Visualization can play a huge role in helping you succeed at speaking Spanish; without having a clear idea of our goals, it’s hard to achieve them.
When it comes to learning Spanish, visualization can be incredibly helpful in developing the self-confidence needed to speak Spanish.
Picture yourself having a great conversation with a native speaker (in the shop, your host mum, the nice guy you met yesterday, the friendly lady next door, or the surfing teacher on your following holidays….). Imagine yourself with a confident posture and speaking Spanish, and you are receiving positive responses from this person.
And lastly, remember why you decided to learn Spanish in the first place. Take a few minutes every day to do this, and you’ll be amazed at how confident and enthusiastic it can make you feel.
3. Trust native Spanish speakers in your surroundings
One of the biggest fears when speaking Spanish is the idea of making a fool of themselves in front of a native speaker. Whenever this fear starts creeping in, remind yourself to trust the good nature of the native speaker. The locals don’t want to catch you. The vast majority are usually delighted that you spend time and effort learning about their culture and the Spanish language. Especially in Peru, people are very friendly and helpful and will admire your efforts to learn Spanish.
No one will try to embarrass you on purpose. If someone from another country came up to you and tried to speak your language, would you make fun of them? Nope! You would probably be more than happy to take some time to try to understand them.
4. Identify your barriers
Students struggle with the Spanish language’s different aspects, and identifying where you run into a problem is vital if you want to make further progress.
Apply this analysis to your speech. When you have a conversation, at what point in the conversation do you find it difficult to follow your interlocutor? Giving a good reply or comment may be your problem – or it may be understanding what the person says to you in the first place.
Figure out what your difficulty is, and you can find ways to address it, increasing your overall conversation level! If you can take individual Spanish lessons or online (individual) lessons, those will be of great help as you can discuss your issues with your teacher, who will be able to help you overcome your fear of speaking Spanish.
5. Go step by step
One-on-one conversations are much easier to manage than having to speak Spanish in a group. With a group of speakers, the conversation speeds up, more people speak at the same time and become more complicated, and you might feel like you’ve been left behind.
Find someone willing to practice Spanish one-on-one with you and give it a try! It doesn’t matter if they understand every word; the key is to keep practicing until you feel comfortable and confident enough to approach a conversation with a stranger.
6. Record yourself speaking
Record yourself speaking Spanish with your mobile when no-one listens. Or you can even read out loud if you don’t know what to say. You’ll be amazed at how different you sound when you hear yourself speak and how great it sounds! Also, hearing yourself will help you spot pronunciation mistakes you didn’t know you were making.
7. The ultimate goal is to get the message across.
To abandon the fear of speaking in Spanish, you must start from the following premise. The vital thing is that there is communication and not the quality of it. On many occasions, the receiver will understand you even if you mispronounce the word or the grammar is not entirely correct.
8: Out with perfectionism
To become fluent in Spanish, you have to go through the phase in which you babble. So the sooner you start talking (babbling), the sooner you’ll be fluent.
At first, making mistakes may put you off, but over time you will see how much you have improved and that making mistakes is worth it in the long run. So no perfectionism!
You cannot pretend to speak perfect Spanish. Therefore, it is necessary to mess around and make mistakes. In this way, in the long term, we will be able to perfect our technique, overcome the initial linguistic block and not go blank.
Self-demand is an element that we must avoid. We have to be aware that, initially, we should not seek to achieve the maximum. It is preferable to do the best possible according to the context in which we find ourselves.
Are you afraid of speaking Spanish?
We hope this article helped you to overcome your fear of speaking Spanish. Feel free and just go for it!
When learning Spanish at AMAUTA in Peru, you have the choice to follow an intensive group course, a combined course (group and individual), or an individual Spanish course.
We also offer a super-intensive Spanish course (total immersion, 8 hours per day) if you need to speak Spanish quickly. When you feel your speaking skills are behind, we recommend you don’t focus on only learning more Spanish grammar but instead you tackle your speaking issues with extra individual lessons. Nothing will give you more self-confidence and a feeling of happiness when you are speaking Spanish.