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Getting over "Language Awkwardness"

Updated: Aug 5, 2022

Let's face it: sometimes speaking or writing in a foreign language feels awkward. For one thing, we're worried about making mistakes or not making sense to other people. These worries can be so overwhelming that we get shy whenever we get the chance to practice what we've learned with speakers of the language. So, how do we overcome the awkward feelings we have when we study languages?

Keep reading to talk more about it!

What is "Language Awkwardness"?

For this conversation, "language awkwardness" is the feeling a learner has whenever they're using the language that they're studying. This could mean that the learner feels nervous during language exchange sessions, or hesitant to start a study session because they feel a certain way about what they're going to do.

I chose the word "awkward" here because the feeling isn't always nervousness. To be honest, learning a language doesn't only come with good and bad moments; there are these "blah" moments, or awkward moments, that are hard to describe with words, and better to describe with situations.

Here, the blanks in each situation represent what I'm referring to as this "awkward" feeling learners can have. See if you can understand the feeling in each of these situations below:

Situation #1:

You're sitting in a restaurant with your friends in a country that uses the language you're studying and it's time to order. You could order the food for everyone, but you feel ____ doing it because (enter a reason here).

Situation #2:

You're in a language exchange group and it's your turn to speak. You want to use a new expression you learned the other day, but you feel _____, so you're a little more hesitant. Maybe you choose to keep your answer short this time.

Situation #3:

You're given a writing task in the language you're studying, but you're not able to start it because you feel a bit ______. You get it done in the end, but it takes a bit of time for you to start it because of this feeling.

How to overcome "Language Awkwardness"

The answer to this is a part of our brand's theme: self-reflection.

What does this mean for you?

In most cases, this feeling that we have when it's time to use what we're learning is related to our confidence in the language. When you put yourself in the three situations above, you'll see that you most likely have the tools to get the task done. The hesitation, or awkwardness, comes in when you think about what it takes to complete the tasks, even when you know you have what it takes to do them.

Consider this:

Are you concerned about the response you'll get from others, or are you worried about not meeting your own expectations and being underprepared?

Take it from a person who experiences this feeling for both reasons: the feeling takes a long time to get used to before it goes away. What matters is how fast you're able to recognize this feeling and face it by using the language the way you need/want anyway.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

  1. Treat yourself to something small when you push yourself to use the language and/or do a study session. For this method, the goal is to connect using the language to positive things so that you're more willing to use the language freely.

  2. Look through your old notes. Sometimes looking at how far you've come can give the confidence boost you need to continue your language journey.

  3. Do a language challenge! There are so many language challenges for writing, speaking, reading, and listening out there. We even have a language bootcamp where you can get a completion package just for sticking to your study plan for a month! The consistency of language challenges allows you to slowly get over the feeling that comes with using the language you're studying.

  4. Practice with people you're comfortable with. Maybe this option isn't available to you if you're the only one in your friend and family circle studying the language. If this is the case, try to find a language partner or tutor that you're comfortable practicing with so that you can gain more confidence in a safe environment.

To sum up:

Language awkwardness is something that doesn't have to distract or discourage you from making progress with your language goals. Remember your strengths and do what it takes to build habits that can help you combat this feeling so you can keep putting your best foot forward and be confident in what you're studying!

Game over!

That's all for this one!! Did this help? Check out our other blog posts for more language tips and conversations about the language learning process!

Also, comment down below about your thoughts on this topic and how you deal with this feeling. We'd love to hear from you!


Need more? Check out our resources for PDFs, resource instructions, and a sneak peak of the content in our Spade Language Playing Cards!

Ok, now it's really done! Thanks for reading this far, and as always, happy learning!

Study like a diamond Practice like a club ♣ Vibe like a heart ♡ Speak like a spade


Tiara Youngblood

The Card Master ♢♣♡♠

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