HomeQ&ADo you have some advice for my friend who knows Spanish, but is afraid to talk Spanish?

Do you have some advice for my friend who knows Spanish, but is afraid to talk Spanish?

4
votes

My friend uses sites like this one to learn Spanish. And his achievements are astonishing as he's gained a huge vocabulary and precise knowledge of all those crazy verb conjugations.

But when we're "across the line" in Sonora, he is reluctant to venture speaking Spanish, because he's afraid of making mistakes.

I encourage him to take the plunge. But so far, he hasn't.

Anyone here have any specific, "real-life" techniques as to how I could help "jump-start" him into speaking?

3076 views
updated ABR 14, 2012
edited by 0057ed01
posted by 0057ed01

9 Answers

8
votes

Perhaps if you were to leave him by himself in Sonora?

When with my fluent daughter, her Colombian husband and her father's Spanish friends in Barcelona, I hardly spoke a word. But walking around early in the mornings on the streets while the others who had partied late into the night were still sleeping, I had - other than no other choice - a lot of fun trying to make myself understood.

updated ENE 23, 2010
posted by Janice
greaaaaat advice! - ross1964, ENE 23, 2010
6
votes

It's very common... I think you have to give him his time and stop pushing him to speak. Maybe the more you push, the less you get...

In any case, Janice's advice is very good. Make an excuse, go to the restroom, pretend you have to make a phone call and leave him alone for a few minutes and see what happens... It might work, who knows...

The best of lucks! wink

updated ENE 24, 2010
posted by Benz
5
votes

Oh Volpon I can readily understand your friend's hesitation. When I get the opportunity to speak to a Spanish-speaking person, which is rare, the performance-anxiety thing takes over completely. The words are "there" in my brain (well...mostly) but I just can't get them "out". I have taken serious note though of some of the techniques suggested above.

updated ENE 24, 2010
posted by nonombre
4
votes

This can be a very common fear when learning a new language. I suggest finding just one or two people who speak the language to begin with, and let your friend get to know them and practice with them. Once he has acquired confidence, try Sonora again, but in small steps. I wouldn't leave him alone in Mexico, especially around the border.

Also the practice-with-the-dog thing that dandi mentioned is not so far fetched. During my first couple of months of living in Russia, I did the same with a big out-of-control Riesenschnouser while we would take walks in the forest. It was great practice; nobody laughed.

updated ENE 24, 2010
edited by 005faa61
posted by 005faa61
We go to Nogales, Sonora, which is right on the border. We feel perfectly safe, contrary to all the sensational hype we see on the Tee-Vee. - 0057ed01, ENE 23, 2010
3
votes

Based on my own personal experience, I suggest beer. Everyone will be more relaxed, so he will feel more comfortable speaking and others will be more tolerant of his mistakes.

updated AGO 24, 2013
posted by lorenzo9
We're both members of AA. Won't work, fortunately. - 0057ed01, ENE 23, 2010
I'm sorry to have mentioned it. I grew up in Australia and have been drinking beer all my life with no problems, but have friends who can no longer drink. - lorenzo9, ENE 23, 2010
3
votes

He has to practice speaking aloud, in normal conversation voice, to you, to himself, to his dog, to the TV, to whomever! He should repeat what he hears (especiallylong, complex sentences) until he can get them to flow out of his mouth naturally.

Es una falta de confianza nada más. smile

updated ENE 24, 2010
posted by 003487d6
Reading is also good so you don't have to think about what you are saying in addition to how to say it. - lorenzo9, ENE 23, 2010
Good suggestion, except that although it would be best for him to speak with native speakers to refine his accent. (By the way, he's a retired politician - nothing shy about him at all.) - 0057ed01, ENE 23, 2010
3
votes

Maybe he feels most uncomfortable to speak to native Spanish speakers and should start doing this with other learners? I too feel uncomfortable speaking to native English speakers, because I fear that they will notice plenty of mistakes and lack of dictionary, my accent and so on. It goes away speaking the same language with non native English speakers.

updated ENE 23, 2010
posted by saulele
2
votes

Just thought of something: We go for haircuts at a barbershop whose barbers are like friends. I usually do the talking, but next time, I'll have him write down on paper and review all the items that he knows about haircuts. (Which is just about everything; I had to ask him the word for scissors, last time.)

Then, with his agreement, I'll go in first and whisper to our friendly barbers that I have laryngitis and that Roberto will be doing all the talking today. They'll love the challenge.

Sound like a good plan?

updated AGO 24, 2013
posted by 0057ed01
2
votes

I've known English as my first language for pretty much all of my life, and I can't count the mistakes I've made! Nobody is perfect, and she can't expect to never mess up. However, there are things that she can do for a boost of self-esteem. I would recommend talking to little children in Spanish... it works. Then talk to a group of older kids, and then pre-teens, then teens, and pretty soon she will be talking with adults!

updated ENE 23, 2010
posted by nrdyAWSM
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