Speaking nerves

Speaking my native language makes nervous enough, any tips for how to feel more confident in speaking practice?

I’m about to sign up for a 5 week conversational course, and I’m actually signing up for the level one class though the guidelines would say level 2 (based on my level in their regular class that’s going over Genki and everything). But I just get so nervous speaking generally, and I wasn’t able to take level 1 before that I would rather ‘waste’ my money and get some more practice with the basics. If I stay one level behind on the conversational classes so be it.

We’ll be using Marugoto Japanese Language and Culture, Starter (A1), going through the first five lessons.

I’ve always been the look down at my desk don’t call on me in class kind of student so this is the most nerve wracking part of learning a new language for me.


If it’s just a case of nerves, doing it more can help a lot. I was like that with public speaking - used to be really nervous, but then I started doing it more and now I actually really enjoy it.

If you can rationalise things, just think of how you view a non-native speaker speaking your native language. Now, this is personal, but for me, I really just appreciate the effort in even trying. I don’t mind grammatical mistakes or not being able to think of a word. If I can understand what you’re trying to say, we’re good, and I appreciate the effort.

Speaking practice is going to be like that. You’re not going to be fluent. Nobody expects you to be fluent. As long as you make an attempt, you’re good.

That said, you saying you’re nervous just speaking generally, if that doesn’t mean in front of an audience but really just talking to people, there might be more going on, like social anxiety. That’s not something people on a forum are going to be able to explain away for you, and you might want to consider therapy for that - not just for the sake of learning other languages, but also to make your life in general a lot easier, because there’s really no reason just talking to people should be a significant source of stress in your life - which does not mean this is a personal failing on your part! Just that this is something you may be able to get help with.


Oh I definitely have some social anxiety, I am well aware and have done some therapy for it on and off lol. But a large amount of social anxiety therapy is pretty equivalent to what you’re saying anyway, just go talk to people more often. Like, my society anxiety is fairly mild, I don’t have like a huge problem with every day tasks, I spent years working in events and still do a few a year which is a huge amount of face time with strangers answering questions. I’m just more nervous than the average person (I guess? it’s one of those things you always assume everyone feels until someone tells you no, ha) when it comes to conversations I don’t feel like I know the likely course of.

So having random conversations in Japanese is just maybe slightly more nerve-wracking for me than someone without any of that extra baggage, because I probably am always a little more nervous than most having random conversations with folks (hello pandemic, thank you for putting me out of conversation practice in general!)


If it’s manageable that’s good! But that does mean the same is basically going to apply to speaking Japanese, just worse, I guess.

Speaking a foreign language can be pretty scary if you’re not over that whole feeling of “they’re totally judging me for sounding stupid”, and anxiety can mean you kinda just… never really lose that feeling - but the same things that helped you in your native language are going to help you with a foreign language. If most of that amounts to doing more of it, then you’re on the right track and just doing this speaking practice is going to help you with the speaking practice :slight_smile:

And I suppose having a textbook to follow might help with knowing where the conversation is headed - I presume you’re going to cover certain material so you can be reasonably sure your conversations are going to incorporate that. Most textbooks I know of even have example conversations which could be a good indicator for how the conversations in your lessons are going to go.


Unfortunately, I have no tips, but I can sooooooooooooooo relate to this!
Speaking any language always makes me nervous :sweat_smile:


I am a BIG proponent of things like iTalki where the environment is geared around language learning so it’s a “judgement free” zone. After about 4 or 5 iTalki courses I was more comfortable outputting (not well, but was doing more than before). Speaking is really hard to start, but practice makes perfect.


One of my favorite phrases is お酒の力を借りて〜 if you’re that kind of person, just get loose with some juice and let it fly


Wine or beer


I have recently learned how to adopt the “be ambitious but rubbish” aproach when I am speaking, it wasn’t easy but I am seeing improvement. It has become more fun to try and articulate more and more complex ideas. I think finding a good talking partner can help immensely! Good luck you can do it!

Would you like to know more?


Yes, please! I’m gonna take notes and thanks in advance! :nerd_face: :spiral_notepad:

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I feel that. But do you know what really helps? Forcing yourself to raise your hand and try to contribute by your own free will than waiting for who knows when to be called on. I guarantee the latter is more nerve wracking.

I hate talking on the phone. It’s an unreasonable fear really. And it probably stems from not being able to see the other person’s face and catch their cues to have a smooth conversation. It’s probably the awkwardness that throws me.

That bothers me in English so being forced to talk on the phone in Japanese (especially unprompted calls) is awful. But I’ve found that there are situations that absolutely require phone calls so it was something I had to overcome.

What helps was studying the vocab around that conversation and being prepared for what I might hear (if possible) was super helpful. For example, if I had to call to get my gas and electric shut off because I’m moving, I can guarantee there’s a guide for that someone made online. Maybe I need to schedule a hair salon appointment?

There’s plenty guides on that too. It feels a lot more reassuring when you prepare ahead of time and have notes on what you might expect to hear. In your case, if you know what you’re going to study in class, you can prepare your notes ahead of time.

Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself constructing new sentences using new words you looked up on your own. The more you speak, the better you get at it, and the more confident you become.


i have speaking anxiety and social phobia too…you’re not alone. Ganbatte!


I don’t really know how conversational courses work so I can’t really comment on that aspect

but maybe limiting the scope of what you’re talking about and preparing as much as possible for that until you get more comfortable will help?

alternatively if you can find a language exchange or a japanese person who wants to practice your native language (english?) that can take a lot of the pressure off because you’re both in the same situation

totally relate to struggling to speak in groups, although it’s not so much social anxiety for me. I basically got over this stage by being dumped into a conversation with two japanese girls who made it their mission to get me talking. it was a very intense first time talking, but it worked (mostly because there was no escape) :joy:


I have been studying Japanese on and off for about six years and I have always been reasonably proficient at grammar, kanji, reading and writing. But for some reason I couldn’t stick the landing with speaking. I was always worried about screwing up, and thatkept me from using it as often as I should have. So, about a year and half ago I got really fed up with myself and decided to heck with being worried. So began my legendarily bad japanese conversation struggles. And I may still suck at speaking but without that start I would still be where I was a year and a half ago. i suppose what I 'm trying to say is make a start no matter how small and make it consistent, every day. At least I feel more comfortable with the language bouncing around in my head and I dont care so much about making mistakes. I’m no master or profess to knowing the ultimate get gud fast scheme for Japanese, but I do know that the every day grinding is important. So, keep it up, we are all in the same boat weathering the same storm.

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sees this line
sees username



Solidarity! Words are hard and don’t look at me lol.

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