Confidence: Gaining and Maintaining

Speaking a language that isn’t your own requires a lot of confidence. Taking that first plunge into the proverbial deep end of conversation with a native of the language is something that can’t really be rushed in my opinion. Yes, there are arguments that output is critical to building this communicative confidence, but where do you get the language from to actually perform? Well.. that would be input. Even if you believe what you’re working on is output with conversation, the language of the so-called native speaker is acting as input for you, the learner. But enough about output and input, an article on this will come shortly since it’s a current debate that won’t go away.. besides I’m pretty much on the fence, albeit almost falling over that fence to land on the input side of things… but anyway… gaining confidence. As an experienced language learner, I’ve made a fool of myself enough times to realise that it isn’t the end of the world. This is the issue that new learners need to come to terms with. Until a language learner can understand and accept that talking like a child is fully acceptable, then confidence in speaking will not come. In my opinion, it’s only after experiencing both the positives and negatives of attempting to speak that your confidence can grow. For instance, we can all live in a bubble of positive praise for attempting to speak and you will build confidence… faux confidence. It’s only after suffering from a negative experience and being willing to come back from it can our confidence grow and develop into something that is a serious weapon for our language learning. Misunderstandings, failed communication, embarrassment and even ridicule… now these can build confidence for me as a learner. At the time it may not seem like it since you’re enduring the humiliation of realising you ARE a child again, but once you can see past this and understand that the world as you know it has not crumbled around a la the Mayan prophecy, then life goes on. You can work on the parts that halted your conversation and come back and try again… equipped with new weapons. The problems for the new learner is that they are not likely to have experienced this many times and may take a backward step from the experience. But here’s the simple advice… DON’T! It’s hard to adhere to, but seriously, if you can see past the immediate situation and look at it with hindsight… think of all that you succeeded in during that “failed” conversation. It may be that you got their attention with...

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