Tips For Getting Over The Anxiety

I’d like to start speaking practice and was looking into a tutor, be it through italki or IRL.Problem is, I have social anxiety, and I’m finding it difficult to get over that hill. I know it’s okay to be super newb at speaking and make mistakes, it’s just getting to the actual initial contact, scheduling, and starting that’s having me stress. x’D

Any advice or tips (apart from “just do it” preferred, I know straight diving in would help me get over it x’D it’s just so scary lol) would be amazing ;o;

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Try telling jokes in Japanese. If it sounds awkward, you have a double joke your quirky selves all can laugh about. If it works, just sit back and enjoy the 上手 :sunglasses:

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Write 人 on your hand with a finger three times, then put it in your mouth and swallow it. The 人, that is, not your hand.

It’s a thing they do over there. Don’t ask me why. :slightly_smiling_face: (If I were to guess, I’d say it’s a way of breaking your focus on what’s stressing you out, same as how a lot of hiccough remedies are simply ways of making you concentrate on something else.)

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Probably not a bad idea to break the ice, or any awkward silence XD Haha.

Interesting custom, but hey, if it’ll distract me, I’m open to trying it xD

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Your mouth is made of muscles just like the rest of you. You’re asking it to do things it’s not used to, so you need to practice plenty before anything has a chance to come out smoothly, regardless of your grammar and sentence-forming knowledge.

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Oooh that’s actually quite comforting to hear, the way you worded that. Thank you! :slight_smile:

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Quick tips:

  • Find someone with good English skills: this will reduce the chance of existing an misunderstanding from the other behalf AKA it will help avoiding awkward situations. Check the intro videos they have on italki for this.

  • Find someone which you think you could end up becoming friends with: I know you don’t know how people are actually yet. I mean, you never talked to them before. But go by the feeling of “Ohh, this person seems cool”. I went with someone around my age because I knew that having someone older than me like 20 years would make me more uncomfortable. I also went with a female because I feel more comfortable talking with women than with men.

  • Send them a private message beforehand with your plans. Maybe you want to improve your grammar? Maybe you want to work on your speaking? Tell them that. Can you do it in Japanese? Even better. It will help them see your level of Japanese. You don’t have any questions to add? Just ask if it’s okay to arrange a lesson. This is important because 1. It works as a warmup for the conversation and you get to know the other person a little by their answer. For example, when I did this, my teacher actually went to my profile and praised me on what what’s written in that. From this alone, I could see that she actually likes to know about her students. It gave me comfort.

  • Yes, write something on your profile. Maybe talk about what your hobbies are, why you’re learning Japanese, etc. No need to make a show. Be honest and keep it simple if you think it’s best that way.

  • Arrange 1 lesson only. You don’t need to commit to a bunch of lessons beforehand. Just try 1. See how you feel after it.

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Don’t be afraid to speak slowly. Japanese has a natural flow to it that differs greatly to English. If you slow down your speech to give yourself time to segment your thoughts and convert them to Japanese, you’ll end up with less mistakes and more coherent pronunciation. Even if you end up with the accidental “gaijin accent” by over-accenting particles, you’ll be understood better than if you muddy up the accent of words.

If you speak with a native, don’t be freaked out if they make small interjects in the middle of your sentences. The Japanese naturally use many more verbal cues than English speakers to indicate they are paying attention. These interjections can be of a wide variety. They aren’t trying to be rude; in fact, they are trying their best to inform you that they are paying attention!

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Ahh these are really great tips, thank you! ;o; Preparing beforehand and checking their English skills are smart ideas. The “one lesson only” is a good reminder, I think I just overwhelm myself too much, haha.

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Speaking slowly is a nice reminder. I feel like I’d be the kind of person who’d stumble and try to quickly pick things up and lose my train of thought x’D

I did not know this :o Thank you for telling me!

Oh man, I need to write these ideas down, ya’ll are being super helpful, I really appreciate it! <3

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Oh, and to practice the kind of thing I was mentioning, google around for shadowing stuff.

You might feel stupid saying stuff like 銀行は何時から何時までですか over and over again, but not being able to say that kind of simple thing smoothly is frustrating, so you have to do it a bunch.

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I wouldn’t say I have social anxiety but these things definitely make me much more nervous than they should. So here is my experience so far.

I think the scheduling part in iTalki is quite convenient for someone who doesn’t enjoy these things. You can of course include a long message when you contact a tutor but if that makes it harder for you then just write “こんにちは. I just started learning ago and am looking forward to a lesson with you” or even less than that. Then don’t think about it too long, just hit submit and see if they accept it. If you got that far then you have an appointment set and at least for me that means I have to show up (just imagine the horror of writing them that I would not show up! no thanks… ) so the battle is basically won at that point.

Before my first couple of lessons I was always very nervous, it felt like I had to show up for an exam in school. There’s not logical explanation: this is just a hobby, I’m paying that person to talk to me, no one will hurt me or give me a bad grade or anything like that (not that I ever got bad grades, I spent years of my life worrying about nothing! It’s ridiculous when you think about it). It’s just how I react to situations like that. I’m tired of worrying about why that is, I’m just a bit on the emotional side and that’s how I roll, whatever. The first lesson was of course the worst but it got better every week. Maybe after around 10 lessons I was hardly nervous anymore and now after 10 months I don’t think about it at all. It’s always the same and by now I know that I will just be nervous in the beginning but after a while it will calm down, I just have to show up and wait it out.

And if it doesn’t work out and you don’t feel comfortable then you will never see that person again. But even if that happens you will have practiced speaking Japanese and getting out of your comfort zone. I try to do one thing that scares me every day – good thing is that there are a lot of things that I find scary so that’s not too hard to do :wink:

I also found it helpful that most teachers post YouTube videos of them doing a self introduction. You can get a better idea of what it might be like talking to them. It makes them a bit less of a stranger and maybe 10% less scary than a complete stranger.

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You are describing exactly what I’m feeling XD It does feel silly to stress over these things, but hey, feelings be feelings. It’s great to hear a success story from someone in my shoes! I really appreciate your input <3

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Replicate movie scenes and one liners or YouTube clips. Helps alot.

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I also have social anxiety and found everyone’s replies quite helpful (though I don’t intend to move on to speaking just yet), but it really helps to know that it took you quite a few times before you felt less awkward or nervous.

Because I can totally imagine myself following all of this advice and on the third try going "why is this still so hard? Do I just suck? " etc etc with typical anxiety thoughts.

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お前はも死んでいる。




… Hello… hello is anyone there.

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Are you in general happy with the italki tutors? I’m considering this option as well

I haven’t tried anyone yet, but after reading all these comments I got the confidence to make an account and start looking x’D I watched several videos and tried to find people that would potentially mesh with what I need. I found a few maybes, but I want to keep browsing before I send out any messages. Baby steps x’’'D

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I found two good tutors that I enjoy talking to and I could not be happier about this approach. It’s a central part of my studies.

With one of them I do general speaking practice and with the other, who is a professional teacher, I do more formal grammar focused lessons. I do homework for both classes and that is good for forcing me to make some regular progress even though life is always trying to get in the way.

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Thanks, that’s very encouraging! I will look into it and try to find a tutor who suits my needs.

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