Real Talk: Confident Conversations

It’s no secret: if you want to speak Spanish, you have to practice, well, speaking it. Conversation in a foreign language is hardly effortless at first — it takes time and patience to attain a semblance of automaticity, or the ability to speak and be understood with relative ease and spontaneity without the need to focus on the individual components of each phrase. Confident, unrehearsed conversation proves an elusive goal for many language learners, yet communication with other speakers is often the driving motivational factor for learning in the first place. You don’t want to finally be traveling or trying to speak to friends and family in Spanish and find yourself freezing up!

What makes speaking in a second language so much more challenging than reading or writing? One reason might be that foreign language anxiety — the fear of making mistakes or looking foolish — is especially high in oral practice. There’s no pressure quite like needing to spontaneously understand and articulate your thoughts in a new language, and you might feel like it puts you on the spot. One of the most important things you can do is relax! Higher levels of foreign language anxiety have been directly linked to poor oral performance: the more anxious you are about speaking another language, the less likely you are to be understood. Low confidence in your speaking abilities has a similar impact. Paradoxically, if you have anxiety or confidence problems, the best thing you can do to improve is speak more, not less. Try starting out by practicing in a low-stakes setting, to yourself or with a friend who you feel comfortable around. No matter whom you’re speaking with, though, be fearless! It’s better to make a mistake and be corrected than to never try.

For online or individual learners, finding the opportunity to practice speaking can be part of the challenge. Many adult learners may not have the benefit of regular classroom interaction, so it takes a little bit of creativity to find opportunities to practice conversational skills. Fluencia was designed with this specific conundrum in mind, and our goal is to help you build conversational confidence. We help you learn the Spanish you’ll need in practical, everyday situations, and our recordings of native Spanish speakers emulate a pace that you might expect in real life, so you can avoid the deer-in-the-headlights effect when someone asks you a question. We’ve also incorporated state-of-the-art voice recognition into our lessons, so that you can get comfortable speaking on a regular basis. At the request of our users, we’ve even added the ability to play back your voice recordings so that you can hear what it sounds like when you speak.

Raise the stakes, too! Take what you’ve practiced with Fluencia into more challenging and spontaneous situations. Try practicing with a friend! You can also try looking up conversational groups in your area: local universities, libraries, community centers, and houses of worship are all potential places where you might find groups to practice with. Most likely, when you first start out, you’ll feel awkward or uncertain — that’s normal! Push through it and learn to laugh at your mistakes. Conversation in a foreign language can be difficult to master, but patience, persistence, and confidence will help you get there.

Ready to start speaking Spanish? Check out Fluencia to become a conversational whiz!