Speaking French, more than any other language skill, is the scariest and most intimidating part of learning French. Most people have a fear of being poorly judged by others which means that their speaking ability often lags behind their reading, writing and listening abilities.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Plenty of people are able to get over their fear of speaking French and go on to speak fluent French with no problem. Let’s take a look at some slight adjustments you can make to your French-learning strategy and overall attitude that can help your speaking confidence. Let’s get started…
Get Over Your Fear of Speaking French By Practice Speaking At Home Before Going Out and Speaking With Others
One big problem with learning how to speak French is that it’s difficult to get speaking practice. If you’re reading this right now chances are you’re in your home country and not a French-speaking one (if you are then great!).
Because of this it makes it difficult to get the practice you need to speak fluently which can make speaking intimidating and scary.
When you think about it, nobody is afraid of speaking their native language so it’s not just the fact that the language is foreign that makes it scary. What makes it scary is the fact that you aren’t very proficient with the language.
This is why you need to practice at home every opportunity that you get. This doesn’t mean you need to have conversations with yourself as you don’t want to make mistakes without knowing it.
By having conversations with yourself you risk internalizing mistakes to the point where they don’t sound wrong anymore. What you want to do instead is simply read out loud material already created by native speakers. This can be books, magazines, newspapers or even just subtitles while you are watching a video or movie.
Because most of the time you speak French will be at home, you’ll be able to have virtually all of what you are speaking be content that native speakers have already created. By doing this you’ll be able to rely on what you’ve already spoken aloud previously when you find yourself in a conversation with a native speaker. This should help your confidence and just make it overall easier to speak.
Get Over Your Fear of Speaking French By Understanding That to Others You Are Better Than You Think
This is something that most people don’t even realize, but if you just think about it for a second you’ll likely agree. When you’re scared or intimidated to speak French with native speakers just understand that they as native speakers aren’t as critical of your French-speaking skills as you are.
Have you ever spoken with a native-French speaker in your own language? Have you ever gotten the impression that they always speak your language better than you speak theirs?
I know I certainly have.
Well to be honest this isn’t always the case. The truth is just that you aren’t as critical about them speaking your language as you are of yourself speaking French (or whatever language you are laerning). All you have to do here is keep this in mind and you’ll find that you won’t be as afraid to speak with native-French speakers.
Get Over Your Fear of Speaking French by Listening as Much as Possible
Pretty much everyone knows that in order to improve your listening skills you should listen to as much French as possible. This is true, but did you know that it can also help improve your speaking confidence?
The great thing is that it’s pretty easy to get a lot of listening practice because it is generally a very passive activity. By getting a massive amount of listening exposure you can get a better feel for what is right and what isn’t.
By getting enough listening exposure you never really have to come up with saying anything because you will have already heard it in some form before. Remember that learning a language is not a creative process which means that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just follow what everybody who already speaks the language does.
If you get enough listening exposure you can just fall back on what you’ve already heard (and copy it) and don’t have to think about creating new sentences. This can greatly help your French confidence and help you to get over your fear of speaking.
Get Over Your Fear of Speaking French by Getting a Better Accent
No, this doesn’t mean that you have to have an accent as good as a native speaker. However, one big thing that stops French learners right in their tracks is the fear of having a poor accent (and thus not being understood by natives).
What all language learners should realize however is that people (including the French) love accents and don’t mind at all when foreigners speak their language. Having that said there’s nothing more embarrassing than having an accent that is so unbelievably bad that nobody can understand you. Not only is it incredibly embarrassing, but if your accent is bad enough people will always treat you like a “foreigner”.
This can be incredibly frustrating because even though you may speak French quite well people will always speak to you as if you didn’t speak the language that well or that you may not understand what they are saying. When people around you do this it can be somewhat difficult to form long-term meaningful relationships with them.
Because of this, you really want to take the time to focus on your pronunciation. Nobody is asking for perfection here, just that you can speak clearly and be understood by others.
To be 100% honest, if you can just improve your pronunciation your accent will be a lot better, so at minimum just work on improving your pronunciation and your overall accent will also improve as a result. Just work on practicing how to pronounce each vowel and consonant and your accent will greatly improve as a result.
Alright let’s take a minute to sum up what we’ve gone over. There are many different ways one can improve their French and get over their fear of speaking French, but among them are four that we’ve put forward.
The first involves simply getting as much practice at home before going out to speak with others. Yes, it is difficult to get a lot of practice when you’re not in a French-speaking country which is why you should speak sentences that have already been created by native speakers.
Our second method is a simple mindset change. When you are afraid to speak French with natives just take a minute and understand that others aren’t as critical of your French as you are. Often times people don’t even notice your mistakes as they are too busy understanding the meaning of what you’re saying and not if everything you are saying is grammatically correct.
Thirdly, we recommend listening as much as possible. A big problem that French learners run into is that they don’t know if what they are saying is correct or not. If you have enough listening exposure then you don’t need to think about whether or not what you are trying to say is correct because you’ve already heard it in some form from a native speaker. This is only possible if you spend A LOT of time listening.
Finally you can improve your confidence when speaking French by improving your accent. French learners get scared to speak with natives because it can make or break whether or not you are understood. If you just improve your pronunciation will automatically be good enough to be understood which should help your confidence.
How did you get over your fear of speaking French? Do you agree with some of the methods listed here? Comment below and tell us about your own methods.