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Ama Hayyu Marzuki

Ama is originally from Jakarta, Indonesia, and loves urban sketching, photography and going to museums.

How to overcome foreign language anxiety

Conversing in English with a native speaker often seems extremely intimidating.  When you’re just adapting to a new environment, you could often feel like everyone else is better at speaking English than yourself. But you don’t need to worry; things will get better. As with any skills, this foreign language anxiety can be overcome with daily practice.

So, if you ever find yourself doubting your abilities when practicing English, these learning tips may just give you some useful hints to overcome your fear and boost your confidence.

Stop comparing yourself

There was this realisation that I was comparing my own speaking capabilities to everyone around me. That was probably the biggest factor that hindered my progress. Language learning isn’t a competition and I know that making mistakes is part of the process of being a fluent speaker.

I found that the best way to practice speaking English is by taking continuous simple tasks. For example, when getting coffee, I responded to the barista when she greeted me. Usually, that transformed into a mini-conversation on its own, and I felt a profound sense of gratification in knowing that I put in the effort to overcome my self-doubt.

Don’t be afraid to speak to locals

Making new friends while learning English feels so effortless in Australia because the people are genuinely friendly and laid-back. You may not realise it but daily conversations with locals can improve your immersion of the English language. Almost everyone can be your teacher to better your language skills, from your local barista, Uber drivers, and of course your classmates. In time, you’ll find that talking with locals can make you become better accustomed to the heavy accents and their fast-paced style of speaking.

Easy and simple topics never fail when attempting to converse with a native speaker. You can always start with a greeting, asking them about their day, and don’t be shy to share what you’ve learned from your studies in Australia. Most Aussies love talking about food or sports, so if you ever like you’re running out of things to say, try to find common ground, and ask them about their favourite teams!

Find your own rhythm

Studying abroad has helped me build my own self-confidence, as that improved, I started to overcome my fear of speaking English in a foreign country. Find your own pace, converse with locals and step out of your usual friend group. You will notice that slowly you can become more spontaneous when speaking English and gain life-long friends in the process.

All the best on your English learning journey! I hope these personal experiences are useful for you to overcome your fear and reach your goal in becoming a fluent English speaker.

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