Foreign language anxiety is real! Here’s 7 ways to beat it

November 10, 2023

What is foreign language anxiety?

The paralysing fear you experience when faced with speaking, listening to, writing in or learning a second language is called foreign language anxiety (FLA). It’s real, and it’s totally normal! 

Not sure if you’ve ever experienced it? 

Ask yourself this:

Has the thought of interacting in a foreign language ever made you feel nervous? 

Maybe you once tried to start a conversation in a foreign language, but the words you were hoping would fall effortlessly from your mouth got lost in transit, and nothing came out.

Or maybe someone was talking to you in another language, but you felt too panicked to take in – let alone understand – a word they said.

Or maybe you tried to hack a tricky grammar topic like German pronouns or the Spanish subjunctive, but you felt far too overwhelmed to take anything in. 

If you can relate to any of these, then yes, you have experienced foreign language anxiety. But don’t worry – you’re not alone.

Whether you froze because you were worried about what people might think of you, or for fear that you’d get something wrong and fail a speaking exam at school, most people learning languages suffer from it at one point or another.

And you can cure it as you would any other fear you’ve conquered in your life.

You can face it. 

Check out our seven top tips for facing your language anxiety in the easiest and most pain-free way possible:

7 top tips for getting over language anxiety

1. Stay focused  

Think about why you’re learning a language, and how it will help you reach your goals. This will motivate you to keep studying. Why not set yourself some goals to track your achievements?

2. Give yourself time

Learning a language is a marathon, not a sprint. Everyone learns at their own pace – so if there’s a language topic you’re struggling with, give yourself the time and space to go over it with fresh eyes.

3. Be prepared  

If you need to make a call or see someone, think about what you want to say. Practise sentences in your head and even note down some key words on a piece of paper, so you have them in front of you if you forget.

4. Accept that you will make mistakes

Communicating in any language is about getting your ideas across, not about being ‘perfect’. Everyone makes errors here and there, even in their native tongue! The more mistakes you make, the quicker you’ll learn. Remember: no-one will judge you. In fact, they will appreciate your efforts to speak to them.

5. Get helpful feedback 

We all learn from our mistakes. Find people who will give you genuine, constructive tips. 

Here at Busuu, the app home to the world’s largest language-learning community, our Conversations feature helps connect you with our community of over 120 million native speakers, who are there to do just that. They correct your foreign language skills. 

You can return the favour, too, by helping correct their with their writing and speaking skills in your native language.

6. Feel in control

If you can learn at your own pace, in a comfy location of your choice, you’ll be more at ease. Repeat exercises as often as you like, work as quickly or as slowly as you need to, and talk to native speakers (only when you’re ready!).

7. Stay positive

It’s normal to feel frustrated when things aren’t clicking as quickly or as easily as you’d hoped. When negative feelings arise, remember how much you’ve already learned – even if you’re just starting out and you’ve just learned the word for ‘hello’. You still know more than you did yesterday!

We’re Busuu, the award-winning language-learning app 

We help you build up your confidence in reading, speaking, listening to, and writing in a foreign language

apprendre-les-langues-avec-busuu (1)

Rid yourself of language anxiety and start learning with us for free today.

Learn a language