May 17th – Holding Me Back

May 17th – Holding Me Back

Today’s prompt for Blog Everyday in May is, “What is holding you back?”

Language Insecurity

I suppose that, in a way, this goes hand in hand with yesterday’s post about what I am struggling with. I touched on it briefly in the post, but I think that the biggest thing holding me back professionally and personally right now is my own insecurity with the German language. Knowing German makes me much more marketable and allows me to expand my social circle, but now that I have left my integration class, it becomes quite easy to settle into the comfort of surrounding myself with English.

I actually studied German both in high school and in college. My high school German teacher was phenomenal, and I owe much of my foundation with the language to him. My college experience was much more hit or miss, and there is a fundamental difference between learning a language in school for a grade and learning a language for communication purposes. When learning German in school, there was definitely a big insecurity, especially when I reached college, about needing to have everything perfect when speaking – and subsequently not speaking when it wasn’t. In those classes, there always seemed to be a student or two happy to fill the silence and I could easily get away with not speaking most of the time.

My high school teacher (and later my integration course teacher) were not happy with the same people talking all the time. They both made concentrated efforts to make sure everyone spoke to a certain extent. With everyone speaking and everyone making mistakes, my insecurity lessened. Now, however, I have been thrown into a sea of native speakers, and I lock up again.

I am a bit better than how I was before taking my integration course – my knowledge has improved greatly from spending 20 hours a week for several months on learning, but the insecurity is creeping back in. I think I just need to take classes until I get to something approaching fluency, but that isn’t necessarily feasible right now. And I need to convince myself to forbid the Verlobter from speaking English to me on occasion.

Fellow language learners – any advice for getting over a fear of speaking in German?

6 thoughts on “May 17th – Holding Me Back

  1. I can totally sympathize with you. I often ‘lock up’ as you say and avoid speaking sometimes if I know I won’t be able to say something perfectly. I also slip into speaking English with my husband because it’s just a habit for us – we always spoke in English together, especially when we met and I didn’t know any German.

    If you made any good friends in your integration class, I would suggest spending time with them to practice. I became friends with one classmate in particular and she doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Mandarin so we always speak German together. If one of us doesn’t know a word, the other one can usually jump in with the right word and if we make mistakes, neither of us is embarrassed because we’re both learning.

    In any case, I commend you for trying! It’s not easy!

    1. I actually do have a good friend that I made in the class – and while she does speak English, we’ve been really good about sticking with German! You’re right, it does help a lot.

  2. One way is to write in German, more frequently. This helps in thinking quicker in the language and eventually speaking.

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