The fear of speaking in a new language is very often something that holds us back from making the progress we’re capable of.

You can know a foreign language inside out and back to front, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy when it comes to actually using it. One of the biggest hurdles that I had to overcome when speaking a foreign language for the first time was confidence. I was so shy that I was always too embarrassed to say anything. However, once I broke down that barrier for the first time, my language skills got stronger and stronger and my confidence grew enormously. There are a couple of things you can do to help to break down the confidence barrier.

Having things to say

When you learn a foreign language, you also have to learn how to have conversations. With our native language, we sort of learn this naturally as we go along and, even then, some people are great conversationalists, whilst others aren’t so great. Well, one part of being a good conversationalist is always having something to say.

Before you next go away on holiday, write down five sentences that you can use during the first couple of days in the new country.

I’ll give you five examples in French:

c’est très bon
it’s very good

c’est absolument fantastique
it’s absolutely fantastic

c’est beau ici
it’s beautiful here

ҫa c’est pour moi
that is for me

ce n’est pas pour moi
it isn’t for me

These are just five short and simple sentences that you could use in lots of different situations, but you should make up your own sentences that you know you will use. If you prepare five things, you will be more likely to use them. Now, I’m not saying that this will be easy, because it won’t! It certainly wasn’t for me.

It isn’t an easy thing

The first time I said anything in Spanish, I was nervous, I was stumbling over my words, my mouth was dry, I was a mess! In my head, I had come up with so many reasons why I shouldn’t say anything.

“What if I don’t understand what’s being said back?”

“What if they don’t understand me?”

“What if they think I’m weird for trying to speak Spanish?”

“What if they speak English anyway?”

But I finally did it and it felt amazing! Once you get over the hurdle, you realise it’s not that scary after all. So, just have a go; you’ll be so glad you did and it will get easier each time you say something. Don’t think about anything that could go wrong, just try your best and hope for the best. If something goes wrong, oh well; everybody makes mistakes; we’re human! I know I have made many mistakes, but it’s through our mistakes that we learn to improve.

So, your first challenge as a new language learner is to write down five short sentences and you have to say them within the first two days of your holiday abroad. Force yourself to do it, no matter how nervous you are. You’ll feel amazing afterwards!

If you would like to learn to speak French, Spanish, German, Italian or Portuguese, you can find my 3 Minute Languages courses at 


  • Kieran Ball

    Foreign language teacher and creator of 3 Minute Languages

    Hello, bonjour, hola, hallo, ciao and olá! I’m Kieran and I’m a language tutor based in the UK, and I also create online courses and write books to make language learning accessible to all. My books and online courses are based on the methodology I developed for teaching languages, which I've been using in all my classes for many years. The methodology will get you speaking quickly, without the struggle normally associated with language learning. I’ll not bore you with my life story or intricate details of the history of the methodology; I know you probably just want to start learning now, so I’ll let you get on with it. I have created three series of language courses available in French, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese. They're called: '3 Minute Languages', 'Building Structures' and 'Quick Guides'. 3 Minute Languages The 3 Minute Languages courses are perfect for the complete beginner. They will get you speaking a language from scratch, assuming you know absolutely nothing. You will be amazed at how quickly you’re able to put sentences together. And you will memorise new words and phrases easily without even trying. Click the links below to access the 3 Minute Languages courses: 3 Minute French - Course 1 | Course 2 | Course 3 | Course 4 3 Minute Spanish - Course 1 | Course 2 | Course 3 | Course 4 3 Minute Italian - Course 1 | Course 2 | Course 3 | Course 4 3 Minute German - Course 1 | Course 2 | Course 3 | Course 4 3 Minute Portuguese - Course 1 | Course 2 | Course 3   Building Structures The Building Structures courses are a revolutionary way to look at foreign language acquisition; you will learn how any language can be broken down into around fifteen structures. Each course focuses on a different structure, and you will learn how to form it, make it negative and turn it into a question. Each structure gives you a huge amount to say, and once you’ve learnt all fifteen structures, you will know everything about the language. All you have to do is fill in the gaps with words to form a sentence. These courses are for students who are slightly familiar with the language, and what to boost their progress. Click the links below to access the Building Structures courses: Building Structures in French - Structure 1 | Structure 2 | Structure 3 Building Structures in Spanish - Structure 1 | Structure 2 | Structure 3 Building Structures in Italian - Structure 1 | Structure 2 Building Structures in German - Structure 1 | Structure 2 | Structure 3   Quick Guides The Quick Guides are grammar guides. I recommend these for students who have already been learning the language, and would like to accelerate your learning. The Quick Guides are perfect for anybody who wants an in-depth look at a specific grammar point within the language. Click the links below to access the Quick Guides courses: French - Verbs 1 Spanish - Verbs 1 German - Verbs 1   I've also created one extra course focusing on English grammar for speakers of other languages: Fly Through English - Verb Tenses I hope you enjoy, and "Happy Learning" :-)   Kieran   In other news, my 3 Minute Languages courses have made the list for 2018 "Best Online Courses" by the company "Online Courses Review" Thank you for all your support :-)