Everyone else seems to be learning languages faster than you and easier than you. When you go to speak the words come out choppy, your sentences are fragments, your accent is embarrassing and all you want to do is hide!
This is Foreign Language Anxiety.
Many students experience what's called Foreign Language Anxiety when learning a new language. This stress and fear in language learning is one of the biggest predictors of success in students. If you are an anxious learner, it is much more difficult to learn a language.
What can cause Foreign Language Anxiety?
Often students develop Foreign Language Anxiety and lack of self-confidence due to their strong belief in common misconceptions about second language learning. This discussion post is part of a series to debunk these misconceptions to help challenge your perspective about second language learning and help you gain confidence in speaking!
Misconception 2: “There’s something wrong with me; I can’t learn a language no matter how hard I try.”
While it’s true that there is such a thing as a language learning disability, it is rare. Language learning aptitude (how easily individuals learn a language) is a highly contended subject in the field of second language acquisition: some believe it has a big impact on a learner’s development and others believe that affective factors such as motivation and low anxiety are more important.
If you feel that you are not making as much progress in your language learning as you should be, most likely what is going on in your scenario is poor language learning strategy use.
Take a moment and reflect. Are you using the same study techniques that you used when you were younger? Are they still effective? Are they the best use of your time?
New technology is just a click away to help you on your language learning journey. Why not try a new technique and see if you can’t improve your vocabulary retention or boost your listening skills?
A language teacher who also acts as a language coach could help you become a self-regulated learner and begin to reflect on how you are learning your language, not just on the language itself. Set yourself up for success and partner up with a teacher who discusses language learning strategy use and helps you plan, monitor, and evaluate your learning! This may be just what you need to get past a language learning plateau!
Realizing that you have everything within yourself to become the language learner you want to be will increase your confidence in speaking a second language. Being a self-regulated learner, an agentic learner who takes control of their own learning will guide you towards feeling less anxious while speaking and more in control of communication situations.
To gain more confidence in speaking your second language, find a tutor/coach with experience in Foreign Language Anxiety reduction and focus on not only learning the language, but also skills to manage your Foreign Language Anxiety as well!
If you need help, feel free to reach out!