Why is it so difficult to speak foreign languages? We study years and years a language, but we are afraid to express ourselves in this language. Maybe we think that we pronounce a word badly or we make a gramma error. I have met many students that know English well but are afraid to speak it. At school Swedish was a compulsory foreign language and therefore many, probably, most of the students hated it. The result was that when a Swedish tourist asked something from us in the street, nobody answered and we all knew some Swedish. The same with English, at school we learned a lot of grammar, but spoke during the lessons very little.
I always try to tell my students that important is to speak. Why we have a language? To communicate. Why do we study a language? Of course, we might need it for studying, for writing mails, but in my humble opinion the communication is the most important function of language. With the communication I mean the ability to express our opinions, feelings orally or in a written form.
But why we are so afraid to speak a foreign language. Often, we speak our mother tongue without worries and make many mistakes, but we don’t care. One reason moght be that we have learned our mother tongue as a kid and therefore the use of it happens automatically. But one can wonder why we neglect the errors we make in our mother tongue, but are very wary of the possible errors in foreign languages. Therefore, I as a teacher, always encourage my students to speak and tell them not to worry about possible mistakes.
I have learned Italian as an adult (ok, I took some courses at school, but didn’t learn anything). There were two possibilities to me – be quiet or talk – I chose the latter option. I make mistakes and sometimes I confuse two similar words, but the result is that either the listener corrects me or ignores the mistake. With my own example I hope I can encourage my students to use the foreign language, to relax and not to worry so much about the possible mistakes. I know people that can fall silent in many languages.
A different language is a different vision of life