4 Tips on How to Overcome Anxiety While Enjoying Language Exchanges

We all know the feeling of walking into a room of complete strangers and being expected to strike up conversations like we’re all natural-born politicians. But, imagine an even worse scenario: We’re all there to not only chat it up with strangers, but to do it in a foreign language. It’s probably fair to say that few people (who are still learning a language, anyway) would call that fun.

Of course, this is not always the case, but it can often happen. In reality, language exchanges are one of the best (and usually free!) options for practising a language with a native speaker.

And though practising a language with native speakers may seem like an unnecessary evil, it’s one of the best ways to advance your language knowledge and confidence. But, what should you do with all those language nerves beforehand? Should you ignore them, let them get the best of you, or just avoid language exchanges? Here are 4 tips on how to overcome that inevitable anxiety while practising via language exchange.

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1. Check your self-consciousness at the door

While it might be one of most challenging parts about learning a language, you’ve got to leave embarrassment and self-consciousness toward making mistakes behind. It’s an absolute hindrance to your ability to think clearly and quickly in another language. Feeling humiliated serves no good purpose, so leave it at the door.

2. Be brave – everyone else sounds just like you

If we were all perfectly fluent and able to speak without an accent, do you think there would be a purpose for participating in a language exchange? Obviously, some people’s skills are higher than others, but take that as a motivation to learn – never as a reason to become discouraged.

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3. Remember that it’s for learning’s sake, not necessarily a social thing

Are you tired of repeating the same things over and over? Perhaps you feel like you’ll go crazy if you have to talk about your university degree or job one more time. Language exchanges can be difficult, but just remember that exchanges are not designed to be socially pleasing, but rather to practise another language. If you end up making friends, all the better, but it’s not an expectation that you should hold high.

4. Talk about things that interest you and dig into topics that challenge you

Even though you shouldn’t have too high of expectations for fantastic conversation during a language exchange, try to talk about, and connect with other people via, topics that you love. Obviously, this will make the process more interesting for you, and will also expand your language knowledge. Also, it could be very beneficial for your language partner as well, depending on his or her interests and field of study.

Why do you enjoy language exchanges? Please share with us in the comments!

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