A reason I heard many times against moving one’s life to another country is: “I’m afraid that when I’m speaking a foreign language I’d make a fool of myself”.
An aspect that really got me surprised is that I also heard this argument from people who were really skilled in the language spoken in the country they dreamed of moving to.
In other words, just not being able to speak the language as good as a native speaker, although still very well, prevents some from moving abroad at all, including those who’d like to.
One could think that culture shock has mainly to do with facing an alien culture, a different climate, and distance from family and life-long friends. However, this is not always the case.
I found that this kind of concerns often hit people more after they have moved than before.
But being afraid of not being good enough with local language always comes before moving.
I am not writing all of this because I’m preaching that people should emigrate. I do that since there are many who really want to seek a better or new life abroad, and can’t do that due to their fear of not being able to speak another language properly.
We are not all the same and although I’m not personally particularly worried about situations described above, those who are have my sympathy and I want to tell them: if you have a dream of moving abroad, whatever is the reason, if you feel that it would be right to give a boost to your life by emigrating, then do something to overcome your fears. You’ve got only one life.
I’ll show you here what you can do in order to overcome your fear of speaking another language.
Accept the fact that you will be out of your comfort zone at the beginning.
There is no way to avoid facing sub-standard performance in speaking a language with respect to locals. Frustration can hit hard when words are not coming to your mouth fast enough, when you realize you just said something incorrect the moment you said it, or when you know that your accent, while good, can still let a native identify you as a foreigner the moment you start talking. These problems cannot be avoided.
But you know what? Being out of your comfort zone is a good thing. It is when we learn most.
Moreover, a good move is attending an advanced-level language course before you leave, with a native speaker as teacher.
It will benefit you in two ways: first it will improve your language skills. Secondly, it will help you realize that a native speaker can really understand you and appreciate your speech much more than you think. Speaking a second language every day will soon become second nature even before you leave your homeland.
Once you are in your destination country, I recommend using the following trick to face conversation fear: imagine that what you are most afraid of is going to happen.
Tell yourself: “this clerk is going to laugh at me, the cashier will be irritated by me asking him about the price twice, ….” you put there whatever applies to you.
The reason behind this is: trying to hide a fear usually makes it come back stronger and, as a result, you could panic. Visualizing the situations you are afraid of instead, by telling yourself “what I’m afraid of is really going to happen, right here, right now”, will have an eyes-opening effect, as you will notice that reality is not as dramatic as you expected.
What do you think about this matter and the article? I would also like to hear opinions from people who already moved to another country. What is your personal or your friends’ experience?
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