Scared to Speak French? Anxiety Tips

Scared to Speak French

Without saying “I’m shy”, there must be a reason why you’re anxious about speaking French. Whether it be reading French infront of a classroom, answering a question, ordering food, or just plain asking “where’s the bathroom”, speaking French can be daunting at times. Here are some tips on speaking French without all the worry.
Relax
My first tip is always the most obvious, relax. Take a few deep breaths and be confident in what you’re going to say. If you have too much anxiety then you’ll actually make MORE mistakes than if you remained calm.

Think, Perform & Execute
Know exactly what you’re going to say, maybe even think of one or two follow up statements or questions. Then practice the dialog in your head or under your breath to make sure your pronunciation is on par.

Speak Slowly
Would you like a foreigner to speak English extremely quickly, meanwhile you don’t understand one word he or she just muttered? Your goal should not be about talking 100 miles a minute, it should be about correctly pronouncing your words. Speak slowly, it helps everybody understand you better and gives you more time to formulate your next move in the conversation. If you think you’re pronunciation could use a little help, click this link.

Be Confident & Practice Your French
Confidence only comes from you knowing your stuff. You may be scared to speak French because you lack confidence, especially when you KNOW exactly what to say, but don’t say it due to the fear of being judged or making a mistake. My most important tip to avoiding speaking anxiety is to properly learn French… PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Listen to French music, watch French movies, learn new vocabulary, and casually speak to anyone competent enough to respond in French! One of the best things to do is discover a nice quiet place alone; find a French book or article and read it OUT LOUD. Also, if you find yourself talking about certain topics a lot, such as politics or movies… go learn some extra vocabulary on those subject matters so that you are better prepared to speak.

What happens if you do make a mistake? 
The worst case scenario could be you get publicly ridiculed (not likely), the person simply corrects you (probable), or the French native works with you to better understand what you’re saying (likely). Depending on the situation, the native may try to clarify what you meant to say… or try to reword your previous statement… pay attention to how they do so (this allows you to get it right the next time!) and just keep moving on with the conversation. Sometimes I realize I made a mistake after the conversation.. but they did not make any reference to it because it was pretty “insignificant” (i.e using the wrong gender once is not a dire mistake). Mistakes are how we continue to learn and to grow with French, you didn’t come out of the womb speaking English… don’t expect to do so with French!

With all the tips above, I hope you become a little more confident and willing to speak French in any situation! Any more helpful tips can be posted below in the comment section, no subscription required.

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Francophile-extraodinaire, John Elkhoury works and lives in France, dates French people, and eats too much French bread. John mastered the French language and has over a decade’s worth of experience.

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