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How to find the courage to speak

I remember the daily fear in my heart, living in France, struggling to learn and speak this beautiful language. The French are very proud of their language, and I as an American, who had studied Russian in High School, arrived on French soil without the ability to speak a word. 4 hours of classes a day, and thrown into a job where I was obligated to truly learn the language, I had a choice to make. I discovered that in learning to Speak a foreign language, one must be willing to look and sound like an idiot. Humbling indeed. I knew I would just have to throw myself out there, and try, and try again. I came to realize that native speakers were my best teachers and greatest allies if I allowed them to correct me anytime. I had 100's of personal tutors! I made so many mistakes in every conversation, but with time and a heart to learn and to laugh at myself, those mistakes became fewer and fewer. Learning a second language takes courage. I have found so many of my students fear speaking French and it cripples them. So here is what I believe is the most helpful to those who don't have the opportunity to move to France, and immerse themselves into the french culture and language. Have your tutor work with you on learning to read out-loud and read correctly. Find a tutor with a great accent. I am often mistaken for a french native by the French! Learn the proper pronunciation of french vowels and consonants. French vowels are pure. Once you get that you will greatly improve your accent. Too often our english pronunciation is thrown into our reading and speaking because we have not taken the time to really learn how to read french and speak french with french pronunciation. Once you can do this, and practice reading out loud on your own, your confidence will grow. Listen to french broadcasts on the internet, find opportunities to speak. I live in Canton MA, and my neighbors are Haitian, and French Canadian! There are people in your community! Boston is a big melting pot. Find a French club, a tutor who is fluent in speaking and speak!!!! Speak only French in your lessons, and have your tutor speak french only too! Don't worry about how you sound, just go for it!Practice practice practice. You will get better and better with practice and then you will have the joy of speaking and communicating in this beautifully rich language! Vive la belle language francaise!