Hello. Bonjour. Namaste. Salam
I think the hardest part of learning a language is not the grammar, pronunciation, or listening. It is overcoming the fear that you could be wrong. It is that paralyzing fear that no one will be able to understand a single word that you are saying and it will lead to an embarrassing situation. It was not until I overcame this fear and learnt to say- JUST DO IT, that I truly was able to reach farther in learning a new language.
After college, I found a position working in Cameroon for AIESEC, the world’s largest youth organization. I worked in English but otherwise I was completely surrounded by French and I had to learn it to be able to DO anything. To get around, I would ask my friends how to buy things to get around the city. By the end of the year, I could have basic conversations in French to get by. When I thought I could say something beyond the basics, I didn’t because I thought it would be wrong and no one would understand me.
After my experience in Cameroon, I felt disappointed in myself that I did not attempt to take more risks. I began to wonder what would happen if I just spoke and said whatever I knew. I was annoyed that the fear of being wrong hindered me from learning such a great language. I began to wonder, What if I just spoke?
One of the most challenging aspects of moving to a new country is
learning the language. I’ve been so inspired by so many of my international friends that choose to walk through their fear of learning English and PRACTICE with others. They just speak. Just Do it. If people do not understand them, they find another way to say it until they do. Attitude is everything when learning a new language. In my perspective, it is the most important thing above the rules, above the grammar, and above your writing skill. It is impossible to learn a new language fully and completely if you live in fear that you will make a mistake.
To my delight, my French has gotten better since my experience in Cameroon. It has to do with the fact that I speak without fear and practice using the language.
Even if I am wrong, I take all errors as learning experiences. And anytime, I feel my fear coming back, I remember to tell myself: Just Do It! I still have a lot to learn in French, but I will continue learning because I don’t live in fear of being wrong.