8 things confident foreign language speakers do differently 4

believe in yourself confident foreign language speakers

1. They focus on communication

We all aim for a perfect balance between fluency and accuracy when speaking a foreign language. We want to be fluent and speak fast, and not make any language mistakes at the same time.

Sometimes, though, it’s good to just focus on communication. Try making getting your message across your main objective when speaking, instead of trying to get things right 100% of the time.

Confident foreign language speakers frequently change their focus this way, which helps them relax a little bit and not be angry when they make small mistakes which don’t affect communication.

2. They listen and are listened to

Confident foreign language speakers don’t just speak – they also listen actively to what the other person is saying. They offer attention and they get attention back themselves. There’s nothing more demotivating than talking to somebody who’s visibly not interested in what you’re saying. If you want their attention, give them some too!

3. They have a stock of conversation starters and phrases

They are prepared – they use phrases and conversation starters they have practised before. They practise asking questions by themselves before they actually ask them. Asking a question is a great way to get the ball rolling. The adrenaline that follows gives you an extra boost of confidence and things can only get easier from that point onwards.

4. They talk to themselves and copy other people

Talking to yourself is a thing – whether you’re a language learner or not. But if you’re a language learner, it can significantly improve your spoken language. Confident foreign language speakers do just that – practise with themselves when there is nobody around to talk to them.

They also copy other people – they watch TV shows, the news, interviews and films, and they pause and repeat after the native speakers in the videos. They copy their conversation partners too (don’t have a conversation partner? Check out italki).

5. They put themselves in their listeners’ shoes

A lot of language learners are afraid to speak because they’re worried they might be judged. But confident language speakers are able to put themselves in the shoes of their interlocutor. They think: if I was listening to somebody speaking my native language, what would I think? Would I find it funny? Would it make me critical of that person? Most probably not – you’d be impressed and happy that somebody else is making the effort to learn your language.

So, when confident foreign language speakers speak, they don’t worry about being judged or poked fun at.

6. They think of language as a gift

gift confident foreign language

Image: Ashraf Saleh

What prevents many language learners from speaking the language they’re learning is the fear of failure or even getting started. Confident foreign language speakers focus on the positive. They change their perspective a little bit and think of their ability to speak a foreign language – however limited it may be – as a gift.

Every word and every sentence you can say in the language is a gift and nothing less. If you start believing it’s a positive experience, it will become positive – trust me!

7. They speak whenever they have a chance

They put into practice whatever they’ve just learned – new vocabulary, new grammar structures, new ways of expressing things. They don’t overdose on theory without getting any practice. They speak whenever they can – to themselves, to their teachers, to people online. They’re not worried about making mistakes – they just go for it!

8. They believe they can do it

If you want to be great at languages, you need to first believe that you can be great. It’s difficult to work towards something that you think is just a wish. Instead, create a vision for yourself and believe it. That’s what confident language speakers do to help them stay confident as they work towards achieving their vision.

P.S. Do you need any more motivation to improve your speaking skills? Check out The Motivation Journal!  It’s a simple tool I’ve created for you guys to help you keep motivated, stay on track with your goals and celebrate your language learning success! 

The Motivation Journal


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  • Great article – lots of truths there, Agnieszka! I particularly love and agree with numbers 6 and 7. I’m forever getting excited when someone understands my muddled Welsh or Italian or Spanish. And they’re like “you’re so good!” and I’m like “I’m so not!”

  • geostat12

    Hihi, I kinda laughed at myself when I saw #4. Coz I always catch myself talking to myself. :)) but yeah, it actually helps me progress with my language learning. 🙂

  • You are very right about the fact that it’s communication what really matters. When I started thinking about raising my daughter bilingually (I work as a translator too), I thought – hey, Gabriela, you are not a native speaker of English, you won’t teach her anything useful. But then in one book on bilingual education, I read that it is not important how perfect the language we speak is – it’s all about communication and our children will still learn it just as they learn their first language. In fact, we keep making mistakes even when we speak our mother tongue, don’t we?

    • You’re absolutely right Gabriela – it’s all about communication! It’s great that you’re raising your daughter to be bilingual 🙂

      And you’re a translator so you’re already great at English (and probably much better than some native speakers!).