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Losing confidence in my second language journey

Community Member


As the title suggests, I'm seeking some advice on keeping my head up while trying to learn a second language.

I'm mixed, and grew up speaking mainly English at home. My lacking skills at my second language has been a big insecurity for me, but I've started working a job at a local business where I need to speak my second language basically all the time with the owners (natives). They know my situation, and difficulties, and they are super nice, but often when I'm speaking to them I make mistakes that I overthink for the next week or so. It's just so embarrassing, and stops me from initiating conversations or keeping them going.

Today was one of those days - somehow I told the owners that my mother has 4 brothers.... she has two. My own brother has aged a few years according to my pronunciation. The other day I managed to say I haven't left the country in ten years, when it's only been half that? They think I travel to uni on a bike, when I really drive (TOO FAR!!), because I pronounced it improperly and didn't realise why they were surprised until MUCH later? I have no confidence to correct any of these small "lies" with my broken language, and no hope in forgetting them. These are just examples of one kind of mistake too - on the daily I am receiving confused faces, clarifications on two words I just said, and outright swaps to English from the people fed up with my attempts to explain something in the second language. Serving customers in English is like a break from destroying my confidence by going in the back.

I don't see any one else's attempt to speak another language as embarrassing, and I've watched my immigrant mother do it for years, but I feel like crawling into a pit and never coming out every time I flub it up myself.

All of my mixed friends are fully bilingual. I really need to hear from some mixed monolingual comrades. :((

4 Replies 4

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi rinkoko,

Thank you for posting and welcome to the forum.

I am sorry it took a little while for a response. Firstly, you should be so proud of yourself for learning and even speaking your second language. What you are doing takes a lot of courage and the only way we can really learn a language is by practicing to speak with others who are fluent. I myself struggle with speaking Arabic with my grandparents, and sometimes customers, as I am no where near fluent. But, I know that in the end they appreciate the effort you are putting in to accommodate to their language and communicate with them in their personal language. Although we feel silly when we say something wrong, or give completely incorrect information by accident, but just try to look at it like a learning opportunity. The fact that you have realised your mistake in saying that your mother has four brothers instead of two, shows that you are progressing and advancing in the language (you now know how to say two brothers!). We can only learn through mistakes and in the end it will better your language! Try to look at the positive! What you are doing is amazing, and learning a new language is not easy. And just think that when you are fluent you can have a perfect conversation and clear up all of the wrong information you have given.

Would love to hear from you x

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi rinkoko,

Wellcome to our forums!

I think you are fantastic for learning a second language!

I understand how hard it is to learn.

People will understand and want to help you learn…. It’s ok that you have mixed a few things up…….

Keep practicing one day you will be fluent…. Just don’t give up…. You will get there 😊

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni


Thank you for being so open here. Many people are going through what you are going through.

I personally am a halfie and my dad's side of the family only speak Farsi. It is difficult because I can't speak it to well, and I get embarrassed when I say the wrong things. My family laughs at me, so I barely speak to them anymore. I always ask my dad to translate.

It must be so difficult for you. You are so strong for dealing with it and amazing for trying. As everyone says, keep practising and one day you will be fluent. Try and learn new words every day for 30 mins. At the end of the year, you will be fluent. Sometimes, we have to be dedicated to gain something. Life is hard.

Stay safe and I am always here to chat.

Mark Z.
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Rinkoko,

Do you know that, according to the 2016 census, English is the only language spoken for 72.7% of the population.

You're mixed, doesn't mean you must be capable to speak two languages, it's more like choice of your parents. If they really wanted you to be bilingual, they'd have trained you since you were very young. Otherwise it's very natural that you only speak English.

Now as you're grown and think it's helpful to learn a second language, it's really good, but you have to be more forgiving with yourself and give yourself more time. Don't blame yourself, it's not your fault at all, on the contrary, by your own efforts, you have done better than many other people.

I think the most important thing right now is to build confidence in yourself. To continue practicing your second language, you need to find people you can talk to without any stress, whether it is family, friends, or some organization (such as church, volunteering groups, hobby groups, etc).

Good luck and all the best!