Confidence, or the lack of it, is a huge issue when learning to speak another language. Many people will avoid situations where they would need to speak in a second language rather than see it as an opportunity to be taken. The lack of confidence is strongly linked to the fear of making a mistake, feeling embarrassed and looking ‘bad’ or foolish in the eyes of other people. In my experience, these fears are unfounded. People may laugh if we say something that is actually funny but they will most likely be laughing at the words, not at us personally. Every experience can be used to build confidence, even if it means learning from our mistakes.
I think most people are impressed by another’s ability to speak other languages, even if it’s only a few words. Of course, many politicians and top business executives around the world are expected to be able to at least speak English with confidence, in addition to their native language. Learning takes time, effort and lots of practice so we shouldn’t let negative emotional responses stop us from achieving our learning goals. Learning and practice give familiarity which leads to confidence.