Have you ever experienced the feeling of anxiety and panic when you speak Italian or other foreign languages? Don’t worry. We have all faced this problem. Every language student knows that speaking skill is essential, and sooner or later, you have to start talking.
In today’s article called “7 tips to avoid panic when you speak Italian”, I’m going to list 7 important tips, to have a stimulating conversation in Italian, starting from to listen to people, to talking to them. I hope this article will help you to overcome your mental block and to make you feel more confident.
Having a conversation in a foreign language can be often difficult, in particular with native speakers, because several factors come into play: we feel pressured, afraid of being judged by others, and to make a bad impression. In this article, I decided to share with you seven tips to better face a conversation in Italian without panicking.
1. During the conversation listen and talk
It may seem trivial, but a conversation involves 50% of listening and 50% of speaking. When you are engaged in a conversation, be present and do not listen to your inner voice saying: “I do not understand, I do not understand!”.
I say this from experience, especially at the beginning of your journey as a language learner, this little voice will do all its best to emerge. But you try to keep calm and stay focused on what they are saying: in this way, the conversation will start.
2. “Catch” as much as you can.
Especially if you are a beginner, likely you are not able to understand every single word. Don’t worry about it. In every sentence “catch” as much as you can, focusing on the most “important words”.
Saying important words I mean, those words meaningful for you, because you know their meaning, and try to give them a sense.
3. Consider the context
The context comes to your rescue during a conversation. It is likely that if you find you are walking someone can ask you for an indication; if you are at the bar watching a match someone can comment on it. Remember, don’t underestimate the context because it could provide you interesting clues for understanding what they are telling you, but also, for starting a conversation.
4. Use the emergency sentences
It often happens that people with whom we are having a conversation speak quickly. This is true in particular if our interlocutor is a native speaker.
In this case, don’t worry and stay calm. This person is not trying to get you in trouble but is with you the usual way he/she interacts with the others.
Do not feel bad if this person does not put him/her in your shoes, does not understand that you have just started learning Italian, and you do not understand everything yet.
Do not panic, but breathe and resort to the classic emergency sentences:
- Sto imparando l’Italiano (I’m learning Italian), or
- Ho appena cominciato a parlare Italiano (I just started speaking Italian),
- Puoi ripetere? (Can you repeat?),
- Non ho capito (I didn’t understand),
- Puoi parlare lentamente? (Can you speak slowly?).
And you will see that everyone will do whatever it takes to help you.
5. Get ready
To actively participate in a conversation, get ready. Are you about to meet people you don’t know? Write a list of ice-breaking topics and questions: ask about their work, where they live, their hobbies. With the Italians, I recommend you, don’t forget to talk about the weather, the main topic with which we start talking with strangers.
If, on the other hand, you already know people you will meet, it will be even easier to think of some conversation topics and be ready to use them.
Do you have a friend with children? Prepare sentences with questions about children, games, school. Do you know someone who is looking for a job? Be ready to ask this person if he/she got any jobs or if he/she has an interview shortly. Remember, a conversation is like a fight in the ring: you have to train yourself to be ready to hit at the right time!
6. Think easy
The goal of all conversations is to communicate. When we want to express an opinion, the word simplicity must become the watchword. Especially if you have been studying Italian for a short time, it is necessary to think and express yourself with simple sentences.
When you communicate, get straight to the point: there is no need to use fancy words or syntactic structures that could cause you problems. With some time and practice, you will be able to converse using more and more complex structures, but for now, don’t rush. Take one step at a time, and you will see that day after day, you will feel more and more at ease, using the Italian language.
7. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Mistakes are essential for learning and improving. They are an important part of the learning process. Don’t think too much. When you have the opportunity, speak and do it with different people, to familiarize yourself with different pronunciations. Even if you can’t recall a few words or you wrong some words it doesn’t matter, it’s not such a big deal. Indeed you should consider the mistake an opportunity for growth that will prove not only useful but also fun.
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Listen to this episode in Italian! You can find the script here!