This year, my family and I went to visit my extended family in California for Christmas.

On Christmas eve, my uncles side of the family (who all are Hispanic) came, and a long, fun day was had eating tamales, handing out presents, and watching the kids all get pictures with Santa.

It was a Spanish learner’s heaven. Everyone, and I mean pretty much everyone but my immediate family, who don’t speak Spanish, were jabbering on in their native tongue.

And I, I am sad to say, did not take advantage of this amazing opportunity. I spent the day with my English speaking cousins, playing American video games and eating chocolate.

What kind of language learner am I?

That day, I wasn’t a very good one, but sadly this is seen a lot with language learners. They are afraid, or don’t have the confidence, to speak with natives.

If this doesn’t apply to you, great, good for you. I’m envious. But, many language learners – especially beginners – are afraid to take a little risk of looking stupid or messing up, and miss out on opportunities such as this one.

The thing is, everyone sucks at first when learning a new language. To learn a language, you must be able to speak it. To be able to speak it, you must… guess what?! Speak!

You won’t be perfect at first. But you won’t ever be perfect if you don’t practice.

Note: If you have a fear of public speaking in general, read this great article about meeting new people that may help you jump over that hurdle.

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