How to Reduce Foreign Language Anxiety while Living and Working in Germany
Did you know that Foreign Language Anxiety is an actual phenomenon experienced by many who live abroad? A quick Google search will prove it’s something foreigners frequently encounter. Here we share the six biggest language anxieties we’ve had living in Germany as Americans and how we overcome them.
The Fear of Speaking a Foreign Language is REAL
Foreign Language Anxiety is something foreigners can experience while living and being immersed in a culture that speaks a language which is foreign to them. We didn’t anticipate feeling as much anxiety as we have this past year of speaking and learning German! It can be quite a challenge to work through the fear and be brave enough to speak and try anyway.
In today’s video, we share six ways speaking German while living in Germany has, well, freaked us out! Plus we share how we overcome the fears and speak anyway. Please note some of these are challenges that anyone living in a foreign country could be experiencing. They don’t necessarily apply only to German.
The Challenges of the German Language in Particular
German is quite a complicated language, grammatically speaking. From having three different words for “the” (der, die, das), to Akkusativ, Dative and Genitive. The language is quite complicated and challenging to learn, even for Germans! One has to become okay with sounding like a child while speaking to get started.
What is Foreign Language Anxiety?
Foreign language anxiety is a psychological condition characterized by feelings of apprehension, nervousness, and fear experienced by individuals when communicating in a second or foreign language. People with foreign language anxiety may have trouble speaking or understanding the language, even if they have studied it for years. They may feel embarrassed or self-conscious when speaking, and may avoid situations where they need to use the language.
What Causes It?
Foreign language anxiety can be caused by a variety of factors. They include a lack of confidence in one’s language abilities, fear of making mistakes, negative past experiences with language learning, or cultural differences that make communication difficult. In some cases, people with foreign language anxiety may have underlying social anxiety or other mental health issues that contribute to their anxiety.
Fortunately, there are many strategies and techniques that can help people overcome these fears. These may include practicing the language regularly, seeking out opportunities to use the language in real-life situations, finding a supportive language-learning community, and working with a language teacher or therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders. Additionally, techniques such as mindfulness, deep breathing, and cognitive restructuring can help individuals manage the physical and emotional symptoms of foreign language anxiety and build their confidence in using the language.