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The Mystery of Speaking Stress: Your Brain's Role in Language Learning

Speaking stress - we've all felt it, right? That heart-pounding, palm-sweating moment when we're about to speak in a foreign language. For some, it's like facing a dragon; for others, it's more like a friendly puppy. But have you ever wondered why speaking a new language can send shivers down your spine?

Let me introduce you to Emma, one of my clients. She understood English very well, thanks to hours of Netflix binges and reading books about her passion: horse-riding. But when it came to real-life conversations, she'd freeze. Nervous, stressed, and hyper-aware of every linguistic imperfection, she'd often back off and avoid speaking even though she actually understood most of the conversations.

Emma believed another language course would fix everything. So, off she went, enrolling in course after course. Yet, the speaking barrier remained firmly in place. During lessons, where mistakes were naturally expected and tolerated, she was fine. But out in the real world, she hid behind others, letting them do the talking. She never initiated conversations or sought out opportunities to practice. Instead, she immersed herself in listening to podcasts, watching series, and reading books. She thought it’d be enough.

But here's the catch: language learning is all about taking action, about practice. Language is a skill, similar to swimming or driving, and becoming proficient in any skill requires active engagement. You can't master a skill by simply consuming content passively, just as you can't learn to drive without getting behind the wheel. The (ugly?) truth is you only get better at speaking by speaking.

The good news is, Emma's story is not unique. Speaking stress is a common hurdle in the language-learning journey. The even better news is that there's a solution. And the best news is that each and every one of us already possesses the tools to fix it! Understanding your brain's role in language learning and speaking can be your secret weapon to overcome your anxieties.

Your brain is a magnificent machine, but it can play tricks on you. The fear of making mistakes, the self-doubt - these are all signals from your brain. It's trying to protect you, but sometimes, it overdoes it.

Curious to unravel the secrets of the brain and learn how to overcome speaking stress? Want to know more about how mindfulness can empower your language journey? I'll be sharing all this and more in my talk at the Learn English Together 2023 summit, a wonderful 4-day online event for English learners, organized by English teachers, to help you 'Discover your path to English fluency'. My topic is, as you'd expect, Overcoming Speaking Stress. Tickets are free, and you can watch presentations for 48 hours with the free ticket.

Plus, stay tuned for my downloadable Mindful Language Learning Toolkit, a comprehensive PDF ebook filled with practical strategies to help you relieve the pesky speaking stress and gradually build up your speaking confidence in small manageable steps.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to dive deeper into the world of learning and the brain and reshape your approach to your own learning. Join me at the summit, grab your copy of my ebook, and discover the tools to conquer speaking stress. And if you need a bit of help, feel free to reach out

This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase.

Mgr. Jana Grežová, ACPC

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