An Introvert needing advice on speaking Japanese (slightly long problem)

So I began learning Japanese through an online course for N5. However having been into Japanese culture, anime, and so on for the entirety of my teenage years, I wanted to practice speaking more than just clearing exams.

What really puts me off though is my introvert-ish nature. So to say I’d be ok with chatting but not actual human confrontation .

I did have Japanese friends living near me at one time, but hadn’t made much efforts to speak the language. And since they knew how to converse in English I didn’t bother trying.

But now that I moved to another country, I deeply regretted not engaging in conversations with them in Japanese.
Even with the few attempts I did made to speak to them I ended up feeling embarrassed or felt like I sounded stupid. ( Not to mention I had a sort of inferiority complex when they spoke in Japanese to a non-native and sounded so much more casual)

Although I have found apps that can let you converse with people online, I can never get past my anxiety of starting a conversation in a new language. Besides, my country limiting accessibility to online video chatting services just adds more to my frustration (and isolation)

If anything meeting up with a person around my area who can converse in Japanese with me seems like the only option. And knowing my nature I doubt I can do it.

So any suggestions on how I should go about practicing my speaking and maybe overcoming my fear?


Maybe you feel better in a classroom setting, like a Japanese beginners’ course? There is not really a great way for beginners to converse when the only thing you can say is “This is a pen.”, so something more structured can get you over the initial barrier.

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I wish it were the case but since I’m currently studying online I can’t actually reach out to any other students from my batch. We did cover a few greetings and have had some conversational practice but without having someone to talk to has got me feeling quite frustrated.

I don’t know if it helps, but you should know that being scared to speak a new language is extremely common. If there are Japanese people in your area, you could maybe advertise that you’re looking for a tutor and pay them per hour if you’re able. (otherwise, you could try doing a language exchange where they teach Japanese for an hour and you teach English for another hour).

That way there’s a very specific relationship that’s expected, because with simple friends, people just tend to fall into whichever language is easier. Also, not everyone is cut out to be a language teacher, so if you ask for a tutor, hopefully people will self-select to be interested in teaching.

Anyway, talking with a person who understands from the beginning that you’re not good at the language yet but you’re trying to learn will help you overcome your anxiety. And your mouth muscles aren’t used to forming Japanese sounds, so it’s literally more difficult to get your mouth to work the way your mind wants it to. But that’s all natural and part of the process. In my experience, 90% of Japanese students find it difficult to speak naturally, so go ahead and be part of that group.


And on that note, a number of people here have recommended shadowing (listening to audio and repeating it aloud) to get used to the physical aspects of speaking Japanese.

On the topic of introversion, I took the test in this thread and scored 92% introverted, so I feel for you. Just push yourself a little bit extra on a regular basis and you will get more comfortable in time.


I think you can get to feel more comfortable with speaking phrases and pronunciation by listening to native speakers and just repeating everything that they say, even if you don’t understand what they’re saying, as it makes forming the sounds feel more natural. If you didn’t want to start talking to other people yet then practising saying anything at all will at least make you more confident and reduce the amount of pauses between phrases.

You said that you weren’t comfortable starting a conversation in a new language, but you don’t necessarily have to - you could try and start talking to some other learners online in your preferred language, get to know them and share learning techniques, and once you felt comfortable enough you could start some Japanese speaking practise together. Other people find it just as hard to speak confidently in a new language, so they would totally understand if you didn’t want to jump straight into talking in Japanese.

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In my previous class most students were pretty shy about speaking. One student however was able to talk very quickly with no hesitation even though he hadn’t been learning the language very long. His method had been to do shadowing exercises extensively.

But! The teacher later complained privately that for all this student’s speed and confidence, he wasn’t good at actually learning anything she taught. So my point is that being extroverted has its pitfalls as well.


Since I’m tight on money the tutor approach might not be an option for me since I’m already spending money on online classes (and I don’t earn any income of my own yet).

Though I do like the idea of shadowing as suggested by @Rowena.
So far listening to Japanese Let’s play videos on YT has helped me feel much more familiar to the language despite not understanding 99% of what’s being said. But of course that sort of casual slang filled language won’t help me much.

And surprisingly the student that introduced me to the online class I’m taking (and is currently at N3 level) is also worried about her speaking skills. So hopefully if I learn some new tips I’d be able to help her out too.


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