Learning a new language requires not only patience and goodwill. You also need to have a little courage and not be intimidated by the risk of making mistakes, especially when speaking in public.
Children and adolescents often suffer from shyness and it is estimated that almost half of boys and girls have this problem. However, this doesn't mean that shy or introverted people can't learn a second language. Nor does it mean that they also have to give up opportunities to improve or perfect their level, such as on an English holiday. In the latter case, it would be a shame to give up all the benefits that a study stay abroad can offer. And even when starting out, being shy and reserved can hinder communication, not taking advantage of the opportunity to speak and become fluent in English. However, there are many people who, even though they are introverts, have been successful in learning a second language. In fact, small changes are enough to increase self-confidence, drive away anxiety and open up to others.
Before giving advice on how to overcome shyness in speaking English, it is useful to understand why some people are faced with this block. Let's start by saying that having a conversation with a native speaker, or even just with a teacher, is not easy for anyone. But some don't mind making mistakes, while others do. Or some don't associate the mistake with a bad impression, while others are afraid of looking awkward or ridiculous, especially if they are thorough and focused on the result.
The problem lies precisely in the fear of making mistakes, of being judged and of not having the necessary knowledge to have a conversation. Some students may not be sure that they have a basic understanding of grammar or that they do not have a large vocabulary. Unfortunately mistakes are often necessary to make progress, and if you don't try, you'll go nowhere. Making mistakes is an opportunity to learn, so starting from this awareness is the first step in not being blocked by shyness.
In addition to this there are some tips, such as the ones we list below, to help anyone who is embarrassed about speaking English in public, or socializing with new people.
If a student already knows they are shy, it might be helpful to go ahead and experiment on their own in a quiet environment. Also, if the fear is due to insecurity about one's abilities, why not work on these and practice before the trip? There are some activities you can do to improve your language level on your own, such as starting to watch movies or TV shows in English. Thus you begin to get used to the accent, and the better you become at understanding speech, the more you feel confident that you will be able to understand native speakers once abroad. Reading books in foreign languages, or bilingual, instead helps to expand vocabulary and understand the use of grammar.
Finally, for those who already want to prove their skills in the field, you can find a partner for a language exchange, even online. It's an effective way to start testing your English and learn how to break the ice with strangers.
If, on the other hand, the fear is due to embarrassment or the idea of looking ridiculous, it could be useful to do exercises to see and hear each other. You can start by trying to speak in front of a mirror, to get feedback on your face, your expression and how you speak.
You can do the same by recording yourself, repeating phrases and listening again to test your accent and fluency. You might be surprised that you are exactly like everyone else and have created so much worry for nothing.
During your stay in English you have to accept that the situation will be different from what you are used to at home. It must therefore be anticipated that some circumstances may seem a little unusual and there will be many challenges to face, such as traveling alone and adjusting to a new family.
There will certainly be mistakes in speaking, but do not make a drama of it, they are a natural part of the learning process. So, green light to the courage to take risks and to speak without fear of having a different accent and not being understood. Nobody expects a student to speak like a native speaker. Indeed, the host family will certainly appreciate the fact that despite the difficulties there is the desire to communicate.
Finally, it is necessary to be patient, as it takes time to adapt, as well as understanding the accent and being able to respond without pausing or reformulating sentences. After all, people are much kinder than you think, you don't need to have a pessimistic view.
To overcome shyness in the new family it can also be useful to ask simple routine questions, or to offer one's help in setting the table or cooking. A few short sentences initiate a dialogue, and from there on speaking will become more natural. You will find ideas for conversation, some questions will arise spontaneously and communicating will become easier day after day.
During the summer English courses you can use the same expedient, exchanging just a few words to break the ice, without being afraid to expose yourself. It is also useful to participate in activities in which you interact with other students, such as spending free time after class or collaborating on group projects.
An English holiday should not only be seen as a challenge, but also as an opportunity to reduce shyness in the future. In fact, it is full of opportunities that encourage communication out of necessity, such as travel, travel to go to courses, lessons and family life. It is a workout for those who have a good level of English, but struggle to practice their skills due to their introverted personality. From this point of view, a stay in English offers direct benefits on the students' character, not only by increasing adaptability, but also by stimulating openness to others and the ability to relate.