confidence

9 confidence boosting tips to improve your speaking in Greek [Guest Post]

When I asked Kamila to share her speaking tips in the blog, I knew she'd list some insightful observations you can put to a good use right away.

After all, she speaks 7 languages and inspires other learners with her videos, where she boldly shares her progress and shakes off the errors with laughs, persistence and amazing self-motivation.

Over to you, Kamila and thanks for being here!


Do you want to improve your speaking in Greek but you also feel insecure about yourself?

Do you feel scared of making mistakes?

Or is talking with strangers (especially in your target language) something that’s far out of your comfort zone?

If you can answer one of these questions with a “yes”, you’re at the right place.

I’ve been an introvert person and in the past, I found it hard to speak with others in a foreign language.

“What would they think of me? What if I say something wrong? What if they don’t understand me because of my accent?”, I used to ask myself many of these painful questions.

Speaking with native speakers is very important. Especially if you want to improve your speaking in Greek. But what if your thoughts are making you feel too insecure to approach them?

After years of practice and analyzing what makes people tick, I discovered some techniques to boost my self-confidence and some aspects that helped me build a better connection with the people I wanted to approach.

I’m thrilled to share them in this post as 9 tips you can use to approach native speakers with confidence and improve your speaking in Greek.

1. Discover the reason why you feel insecure

For everything that is withholding you from doing something, you can ask yourself, “Why?”. Why do you feel like this? What is the reason you feel insecure? Is it maybe because of a negative experience you had in the past? Or is it because of your accent?

If you really want to take action, grab a piece of paper and fold it into two sections. Open the paper and write the reason on the left section. Then:

2. Analyze your thoughts

Analyze your thoughts and give everything you’ve written on the left section of the paper a rating based on how relevant it is for you at this moment.

For example, if you feel insecure about speaking Greek with native speakers because you’ve been bullied in the past, this situation is not so relevant for you at this moment. You probably don’t talk with these people anymore and even if you saw them, they’d all be grown up and wouldn’t make fun of others anymore.

Or, if you feel insecure because of your accent, try to think of successful entrepreneurs who give great presentations and sell their products in English while it’s not their native language. If they can capture the attention of thousands of people even when they have a foreign accent, you can do the same.

3. Turn your insecurities into goals

Now, ask yourself how you can overcome your insecurity for each statement that you’ve written on the left section of the paper. This helps you define goals to work towards improving your speaking in Greek.

For example:

I’m afraid that people will make fun of my poor speaking skills --> I’m going to work on my vocabulary and film myself every day so that I see how I express myself.

This will help me have an interesting conversation with a native speaker soon.

4. Just do it (with tiny steps each time)

Overcoming your insecurities is a big goal. It’s not impossible to succeed but you need to take small steps every time. Define activities for yourself not so far out of your comfort zone so that you slowly get more self-confidence.

5. Look specifically for people with the same interests

One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they want to be able to speak with everyone. However, you can’t have a great conversation with everyone because we all have our own preferences, different hobbies and interests, right?

When you talk with people you don’t have a lot of things in common, you may eventually lose your self-confidence and find it harder to approach new people. (Especially in a foreign language and if you’re a shy person!)

Therefore, it’s important to look for people who have the same interests as you. You can use language exchange apps like Italki and HelloTalk to find native speakers.

6. Prepare yourself

Nothing is worse than having an awkward conversation with a native speaker. That’s why it’s important to prepare yourself beforehand.

You don’t have to memorize everything you are going to say but think of interesting questions you can ask and topics you can talk about with the person. If your vocabulary is not so large, you can look up some useful verbs and words that you may need in the conversation.

7. Remind yourself : it’s okay to make mistakes

In school, when we’re taking exams, we lose points for each mistake we make. The more points you lose, the lower your mark will be. After years of going to school, people tend to avoid making mistakes. However, making mistakes is the way we, humans, learn new things.

Forget everything you learned at school and allow yourself to make mistakes!

Mistakes are fun, embarrassing (in a fun way), can help you create new memories, and help you remember things more effectively than when you would learn them out of grammar textbooks.

8. Most Greek people will be impressed by your speaking skills so far

Believe me or not but most native speakers will be impressed by your speaking skills so far.

Most native speakers don’t speak perfect English so when they notice that you’re putting effort into learning their native tongue and take the step to speak with them, they will be impressed.

They won’t nitpick your accent or grammar. They will help you and give you tips instead!

9. Show your interest in their culture

I can’t point out enough the importance of showing your interest in the culture of a native speaker.

This helps you connect better with them and improve your connection. They will like you more and show you their appreciation.

When you have a better connection with a native speaker, you won’t feel insecure anymore. You’ll gain more self-confidence and have the courage to speak with more native speakers.

Conclusion

If you want to improve your speaking in Greek, you need to discover the reason behind your insecurity and define goals for yourself to overcome this. When you also understand how you can improve your connection with the native speaker, this will eventually help you gain confidence too.

What do you struggle with the most when you want to speak Greek with a native speaker? Share it with us in the comments!

Kamila pushes herself out of her comfort zone to get better at speaking in her target languages Spanish, English, French, and Portuguese.

Follow her progress while she's doing so on InstagramTwitter, and Youtube. Oh, and she also shares tips for language learners on Polyglot's Diary


Read more from the blog:

2 Things To Remember Next Time You Make A Language Error

What do you think when you make errors in Greek?

“I talk like a little kid”.

“Oh no, I sounded so unintelligible”.

“Ugh, I’m so stupid”

Ouch.

Yet, many of us think this way about ourselves when we learn a language and make errors.

I thought this way. And I have to tell you, it only added to my embarrassment. It made me feel awkward. And, even worse, it fed my perfectionism.

Instead of focusing on my success of finally speaking the language, I was focusing all my energy on avoiding the errors.

At all costs.

In the long run, avoiding the errors is like a black hole. You get lost in it. No time, no space, just you and the errors.

Instead of focusing on how I loved speaking French (yes, my “Greek accent - conjugated wrong - using a completely different word than the one I wanted - French”) I was focusing on exactly that: the wrong conjugations, my inevitable Greek accent and the mispronunciation of words which changed the whole meaning.

As a result, I avoided expressing myself in French, out of my fear of making errors.

A cat’s point of view

I wasn’t aware that what I was doing wasn't really helping, until I read this quote in a class about errors in language learning.

The teacher handed everyone this quote by Philippe Geluck’s “Le Chat” comic character:

"On dit qu'on apprend avec ses erreurs, mais à mon avis c'est une erreur. Et si je me trompe, au moins j'aurai appris quelque chose." (We say we learn from our errors, but in my opinion, this is an error. And if I’m mistaken, at least I would have learned something.)

“Le Chat” had said it all.

But why do we get so stuck in our errors?

Naturally, as adults, we communicate elaborately in our first language(s). Our vocabulary often reflects our education and status.

Which means that going back to the basics in another language can affect our self esteem.

It requires patience and persistence to keep going and avoid the black hole. It requires some training, too.

It’s not easy.

When I make a mistake, I tend to blush and avoid eye contact. Some people get frustrated to the point they get agitated or even appear offended. Others start self-blaming.

Some people barely react. Sometimes, they stop learning the language all together.

Do you see yourself in any of the above?

Looking at these reactions from the outside, they suddenly seem like too much.

Still, we just feel this way and it’s not always easy to control. “Get over it” doesn’t work. “Stop feeling anxious” doesn’t work. “Start speaking” doesn’t work either. So what does?

The reason #1 why we make errors

The majority of our errors when we learn a language is because of language transfer from our first language to our second. Yes, from the one we’re so good at.

In other words, we transfer the structure of our first language to the language we learn.

We attempt to use our known patterns (syntax, grammar, vocabulary, expressions etc) to the language we learn and by doing so we apply what we know to a language that works differently.

If I got a dollar each time I got confused with “listen” and “hear” - which is one word, “ακούω” in Greek.

Once, I was talking to a doctor’s secretary on the phone.

The connection wasn’t the best so I quickly asked her “Can you listen to me?” What I meant - the poor me - was the much politer and accurate “Can you hear me?”

My face changed all the tones of red the same moment I uttered the word “listen”.

And I think you can guess how the phone call went.

How can someone feel better about their errors when they might confuse people and create misunderstandings?

It won’t happen overnight.

But realizing how language transfer works might make you more conscious about the reason behind your mistake.

I might blush again if I make an error in English. But I’ll quickly think “I say this because this is how I'm used to say it in Greek”. It’s OK. It’s really OK.

The reason #2 we make errors

Research on errors in language learning states many reasons coming right after language transfer.

Let’s talk about how being tired, stressed out, even sleep deprived (any parents of young kids out there?) can actually trigger language errors, shall we?

Talking about transfers. The irony. The other day I couldn’t remember the word for “transfer”.

This is the “proof of payment” when we use the public transit in Toronto. It’s just a little piece of paper I’ve been using for 5 years now and I couldn’t remember its name.

All I was getting in my head was “ticket”.

I experienced a “my mind went totally blank-and the driver will think I can’t speak a word of English-but I do know the word-so why can’t I just say it!” kind of moment.

Yet, I was very tired, with a toddler not sleeping so well the last few nights.

There are numerous studies making the connection between memory function and sleep so again, no, there’s no stupidity involved, just a good reason why my mind went blank. 

Plus, here’s the language transfer again: In Athens, we use paper tickets in public transit. It made sense.

Anytime you experience stress, fatigue, feelings of anger, overwhelm and anxiety, such errors can happen.

Have you found that when you speak with a friend at a cozy café in Greek, words come easier? And then, what happens when you try to resolve a stressful situation?

Again, such strong feelings will probably trigger errors as the brain functions change with stress.

So what can you do?

Let’s accept the fact that we will make errors.

Realizing where the errors come from and why we tend to make more of them in some cases, is a reminder of our humanity.

Really. You’re not a robot with a malfunction.

You’re a real person, a learner who makes errors the same way everyone does.

So take notice of your errors, take a deep breath and start making a plan about how to deal with them.

In the next blog post I’ll share with you a list with the most common errors Greek learners make during the Beginner-Intermediate levels. And some ideas about how to avoid them and better support your overall learning.

(A hint. “Ugh, I’m so stupid” is not one of them.)

Till next time.


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