Imagine this. You are six years old. You read a book about monsters and you are scared. You close the book and try to go to bed. But the thought of a monster jumping from under your bed is hunting you. What do you do?
Well, the usual response is either call an adult to check under the bed or defy these fears and sneak under the bed yourself. Once you see that there is nothing but your souvenir shoe box or maybe a couple of socks, you go back to your sleep feeling safe and sound.
What does this have to do with speaking French?
Short answer: Everything!
Your fear of speaking French comes from within. There is no actual monster out there ready to get you the moment you say “Bonjour” or “J’apprends le Francais”. It is all coming from within. You may be predicting that the other person would make fun of your accent. Maybe the time you took to find the word you were looking for. Even the grammar, “I used past instead of present, OMG”.
Well guess what?
It does not matter!
What matters is that if you don’t practice you will never be able to use all the learning you have been doing for the past weeks, months and even years. Think about all the work you’ve been doing. Now it’s time to put it in practice and just speak.
If you are in France: try to greet your postman, discuss the weather with the florist next door, or ask about the cashier’s day when you are doing groceries. Just like Emily in Paris, the opportunities are endless as you already have the exposure. All that’s left is to take the plunge. Ready, Set, Speak!
“Well, what if I am not in France? Or any French-speaking country!”
Then you have to create the exposure yourself. Find people who speak French. There are a lot of communities out there. Search for groups with French or Francophone expats in your country and reach out. For an online chat, a coffee meetup or even voice messages. You can offer to show them around the city in return or even explain a few native concepts that they still have not figured out yet.
What about my fear of mistakes?
You have to remember that mistakes mean you are getting closer to achieving your potential. They are only proving that you are trying and that is the most important thing. Be open to corrections, open to repetition and be present in the moment. Don’t think about what ifs. Think about the endless conversations you will have once you cross that line!
So, try this, take a deep breath, Ready, Set, Speak!