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Overcoming a Fear of Speaking

We’ve always been told not to talk to strangers since we were kids, and this advice could’ve grown into a real fear. But should we be really this scared as language learners?


I’ve been here in Pontesbury for a few days and I got the chance to visit other places as well. This, of course, means that I’ve bumped into strangers that I’ve talked to.


I’ve always found it hard to speak to someone - especially to strangers - even in my first language, so try to imagine how tough it was for me to have a simple conversation in English. I’ve always tried to avoid conversations because of anxiety, but here it was inevitable: I had to speak.


At first, it was hard, I’m not going to lie: I thought that everybody was closely paying closely attention to every tiny mistake that I would make and that they would judge me harshly for it. But guess what? They don’t! In particular, at Blists Hill, the actors that worked there were very polite and happy to answer my questions: you can make someone's day by asking them something interesting!



Blists Hill Victorian Town

Facing a fear at Blists Hill Victorian Town


As long as someone can catch the message, you’re good. And now you may ask yourself what you should do if they didn’t: the answer is pretty obvious, you have to rephrase the question (or the sentence), and that’s okay, because it will give you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes.


Therefore, try not to worry too much about other’s thoughts, since they might be as scared as you. Let me put it in this way: if you think about it, you are a stranger to them as well!


Anyway, why is talking to strangers so important?


First of all, as long as you don’t actually practice your English by talking to someone, you’ll never be as fluent as you aspire to: knowing grammar rules is a great start, but, talking is the key to success.


Secondly, it will give you lots of confidence, and let’s face it: if you are feeling comfortable doing something, half of your work is done.


And last, but not least, you can understand what are your weaknesses are and so strengthen them. In Italy, we say...


“nessuno nasce imparato”

(literally nobody is born learned)


It might take a little while, a lot of patience and hard work, but self-correcting is something you need for your own improvement.

Also, this advice works backwards: you have lots of strengths as well, so notice them and be proud of them!


In brief:

  • You should embrace your mistakes, because you’re going to learn from them.

  • And finally, you should be proud of how far you’ve come, keep going!


By the way, you shouldn’t worry about your accent, because it is part of your identity.

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