There is one emotional benefits of language learning not necessarily self-evident: it improves tolerance. This effect manifests itself in two ways. First of all, learning allows opening our eyes to other ways of doing things, what it is called "cultural competence". The other gain related to this learning is related to overcoming shyness during unfamiliar situations.
Cultural competence is essential in an increasingly globalized world. But how can language learning reinforce it?
The answer is to look for the different types of intelligence. Psychologist Robert Sternberg's research on intelligence describes two types of intelligence and how they relate to adult language learning. What he calls "practical intelligence" is comparable to social intelligence because it helps individuals to understand non-explicit information about their environment, such as meaningful gestures or other socially significant elements.
To learn a language is necessarily to be immersed in different cultures. Students draw cultural elements associated with language during class, as well as through immersion experiences such as travelling to Barcelona if they decide to learn Spanish.
Researchers Hanh Thi Nguyen and Guy Kellogg demonstrated that when their students learn a language, they develop new ways of understanding a culture different from their own through the analysis of cultural stereotypes. Students can develop critical thinking about the stereotypes associated with different cultures.
Fear of speaking, problem #1 of language learning?
A problem that comes up all the time and paralyzes many students, it's the lack of self-confidence. Nothing abnormal about it: the mere fact of speaking in a foreign language can be destabilizing, even a little scary.
Even if students do not have any particular difficulty expressing themself in their mother tongue, doing it in another one undermines all achievements. Struggle when searching for words, doubts about pronunciation and not being sure that sentences really make sense are just a few thoughts that come to mind when giving our first steps in foreign language.
The gap between theory and reality
When being in front of manuals, everything is fine: students feel in a safe, controlled environment. Conversely, if one of them were placing an order in a crowded bar in a foreign country, in front of an inconvenient waiter and with other impatient customers who are impatient behind, it is difficult to keep one's countenance.
And let's not even talk about the strongly rooted belief in "voidness in tongues". It is hard to speak boldly if thoughts about not being capable keep showing up. These are three concrete tips, first to gain confidence in oneself, then to gain fluency orally.
Overcoming fear of speaking a foreign language
1. Relive the stakes: perfection is not (yet) a goal
Majority of learners raise the bar of their expectations. To want to be rigorous and to speak well is one thing, to do it in a perfect way is another.
If mastering a language is speaking it, without the slightest fault of grammar or clumsiness of pronunciation, it is not surprising that some students are terrified to open their mouth.
Agree to make mistakes and receive corrections from the natives. There are plenty of opportunities to improve step by step.
2. Integrate this reflection into your learning
Speaking in a foreign is scary? No problem, even the most socially comfortable people sometimes feel this anxiety.
On the other hand, the worst mistake would be to evade the problem and let it run indefinitely. By avoiding confronting fear of speaking, it will only poison learning and delay progress.
So admitting there is a difficulty (which is neither serious nor shameful), then work on its resolution.
3. Get ready upstream and talk as soon as possible
Another common mistake for beginners is to make a long silent phase before start speaking. Problem: if you not practicing speaking a language regularly, there will not be a magic moment from which it will express naturally.
Agree to be flawed and practice all aspects of target language orally: phonics, repetition, conversation with native speakers... Practice regularly, both alone and with language partners.
Hi, I am Anushka Chauhan a social activist and a writer. Born in a village and being a woman it was not easy to get basic education. Thanks to my father who fought the society to give me proper education. I believe writing has the power to change anything and here I am to make a change.