Language Myth #6: "Native speakers might laugh at me..."

Your best will always be good enough.

By far the best thing about learning a language is the gift of communication: suddenly you have the ability to get to know new people and discover a whole new culture.  I can say wholeheartedly that the best thing to come out of my studies has been getting to know my wonderful friends from Spain and France. 

Recently, one of my students travelled to Guadeloupe.  He began learning French just a month or two ago with me for 1 hour per week.  His visit to Guadeloupe was an amazing one.  He also shared with me the fact that although his French was far from accurate and although he could not remember some of what he had learnt, the local people were so thrilled with his attempts to speak French that he was welcomed with open arms; unlike those who speak only English - pointing and speaking louder.  Read Andy's comments below.

I really can’t thank you enough for all of your encouragement with learning French. Before my lessons, I would have never had the courage to speak with people on my holiday. Thanks to you, I had the holiday of a lifetime in Guadeloupe and I can’t wait to go back! Speaking basic French opened up new doors and really allowed us to see the real Guadeloupe. Thank you so much!
— Andy, Ware (Beginner French student)

People love you to make an effort.  Even your worst pidgin French will still receive a warmer welcome than your perfect English.  So just give it a go; most locals will be friendly and will gently correct you to help you improve your language skills. 

If you really lack the confidence to speak with people, follow these handy tips:

  1. Take a phrase book.  This will give you the confidence to know what you are saying is correct - even if you use it to quickly check your sentence before putting the book away.  Many phrasebooks also contain a small dictionary and menu guide, which can be invaluable. 
  2. Take advantage of all the information around you.  It is amazing how much information you can pick up, simply from reading signs, labels in supermarkets, public notices, etc.  Note down/ take a picture of any words you don't know and check them when you have access to a dictionary.  This will really build your confidence and improve your vocabulary.  Chances are that these words will really stick too, as you will associate it with your trip and be able to picture the exact situation when you learnt it.
  3. Book yourself on to one of our short intense courses before your trip: Pronounce Express or Pronounce Refresh.  On these intense courses, you will learn the key vocabulary for crucial holiday/ business/ social situations, according to your needs.