Foreign language phobia: 4 questions to ask yourself


If you have a fear of speaking a foreign language, it can be important to identify possible positive aspects that may come with having this fear. This will help you understand its cause: 


We often hear about the negative aspects of anxiety, but have you ever asked yourself if there could be any advantages or benefits that come from living with this fear? Foreign language phobia is a fear of speaking a foreign language in public and typical symptoms are sweating, heart palpitations, clouded thinking and shortness of breath. Here are 4 questions to ask yourself in order to understand the message your fear is giving you:


1. What could your anxiety be warning you about?

A foreign language phobia could be a warning sign to bring awareness to your current situation. Maybe you should make some necessary changes in your life, especially if the foreign language anxiety is related to your work. Are some areas of your life off track and need adjusting? Is your job causing a great deal of stress? Coping with your anxiety can be a real opportunity for self-growth. Next time your anxiety strikes, consider which message it could have for you and what possible adjustments you may need to make.


2. How can you use your fear as motivation?

Your fear can actually help you feel more motivated, for example it can assist you in putting extra effort into preparing a presentation. Try to think of ways that you can use your fear instead of fighting against it. Fear can serve as motivation to move towards your goals and to inspire your growth and self-improvement, rather than always being considered a hindrance.


3. Does your fear improve how you interact with others?

People who have dealt with anxiety are more emphatic and understanding to the issues that others face. Having gone through personal struggles yourself, you will most probably be more concerned about how you interact with others. If you look at your foreign language phobia from this perspective, you could see it as a way to become a more sensitive and understanding person and to encourage personal growth.


4. What's the worst that could happen?

One way to control your foreign language anxiety is to ask yourself about the worst thing that could happen. If it's the fear of feeling embarrassed, then ask yourself: Can you change your relationship with this fear? It's crucial to face your fear, in order to utilise your courage to move through it. Accept your fear and move forward - that's what courage is. You will get to feel proud of yourself for taking action.


Continue reading: Phobia of speaking German: You don't have to live with it!


I'm Natalie Marby, a psychotherapist based in Hamburg, Germany. I'm specialised in the treatment of foreign language phobia, especially English and German.

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