By William P., Chile study abroad participant studying Spanish and skiing in Santiago
Today was my second day and I was still very frustrated that I was having trouble understanding even the basic words that I know I should remember from high school or that I know on paper. However, at least I was starting to understand most of what the teacher was saying today as she spoke to us in phrases that an intermediate beginner would know. I know that learning a language does not occur overnight but because I know I am not very good yet I realized I was getting very nervous in front of people and ultimately too scared to talk. My nervousness would make me forget simple verbs and phrases that I easily remembered later but was stuck without words at the time. It also is very difficult to conjugate verbs on the spot and while I may know it on paper, speaking them efficiently will take many hours of practice. Therefore, I did not have a lot of confidence in my abilities at all today.
However, when classes were over I went on my computer and decided to chat with one of my friends in the United States that speaks Spanish. He was more than willing to help and in our conversation online I found myself finally being able to put what I have learned to good use. There was no need for me to be nervous behind a computer. I also had the comfort of both my verb book and dictionary and with the lag of the Internet and the numerous other reasons for pauses such as chatting with other individuals, I could easily communicate with my friend online and fill in gaps that I needed. I started to learn a lot better this way. I also for the first time gained some confidence that I can do this. Due to the successful conversation I was able to control my anxiety a little better and therefore was more willing to talk in Spanish to others. I obviously have a very long way to go but today I just might have gotten over the hump of not being afraid to make mistakes.
Therefore I strongly suggest for anyone else in the same situation where you are very nervous and afraid to speak do to worrying about mistakes and being embarrassed, then find a chat room in the language you are studying and start off by writing online. Better yet, if you know a friend that knows the language, chat with him as friends will generally be more than willing to help you out. Writing really does lessen the anxiety and it is also a great way to learn.
I will continue to chat with my friends that know Spanish using my very book and dictionary to build further confidence throughout the time I am here. It was a great idea for me and I think it is a good idea for everyone providing of course you make the effort to speak to other people afterwards. I don’t want the computer to be too much of a crutch for me but I think as long as I make the effort to also speak the language here in the City, the computer is a good way to continue to lessen Spanish anxiety!
Read William P.’s blogs
See AmeriSpan’s Santiago Spanish schools
Check out AmeriSpan’s Language and Fun programs