The number one rule to master a new language requires the willingness to step away from our comfort place. We all know how it feels like when you understand what’s being said but the words don’t come when you try to answer in another language. Your mind searches for the pieces of the puzzle and you stumble trying to put together random words that have no link to each other. How many times have I felt like a toddler when I would try to talk French while helping tourists in Amsterdam showing them the way to their destination.
How often haven’t I tried to say something back in Italian while visiting Rome which resulted in getting confused facial expressions from locals. My ultra beginner level Italian didn’t make any sense or sounded just hilarious. No matter how easy it is to switch to English or your native language, don’t give up.
The best way for me to learn nine languages was to push myself to make mistakes while practicing to talk in a new language. Let’s look at it from a different angle. Don’t we appreciate it when a tourist tries to talk in our language and puts the effort to speak in a complete new language than their own while making funny mistakes or wrong pronunciations? Isn’t it charming when a foreigner tries to express himself or herself in your language and talks like a four-year-old? Most of us tend to show appreciation for the effort and try to help this person out by responding their questions or listening patiently to their broken sentences.
Next time you catch yourself getting frustrated about your wrong pronunciations or lack of vocabulary, look at yourself through the lens of a local and realize that practice makes perfect. Good things take time. Step by step, day by day…every bit of progress counts!