While confidence is most evident during conversation, it also plays a key role in almost every other aspect of language learning, even if we aren’t directly conscious of it.
To start, a confident language learner is more willing to approach challenging content and situations, thereby stimulating progress in the language (see level+1). This also helps maintain motivation, as learning progress becomes more easily noticeable. In addition, confident learners will more often than not take advantage of opportunities to practice the language as they sporadically arise in everyday moments, strengthening neural associations more frequently and receiving feedback from those they are communicating with. Over the long-term, these small windows of practice add up. Finally, communicating with a confident language learner is, in almost all cases, more enjoyable and fluid than speaking with someone who is consistently second-guessing themselves, pausing to avoid mistakes and endlessly using filler words (“umm,” “ehhh,” etc.). Confidence can directly result in longer, deeper and more frequent conversations with whoever you wish to communicate/practice with.
The difference between a confident and a non-confident language learner is clear. Fortunately, confidence is in no way determined by your level in a language (correlation does not equal causation, as we all know). A beginner can, of course, have much more confidence than an advanced student. So try to be aware of your confidence level, and if possible, improve it by using one of the strategy guides found on iLearnLanguages.com or another strategy that works for you.
It is also important to mention the “magic moment” many language learners have felt when the amount of alcohol consumed finally allows them to feel confident speaking their new language for a temporary period of time. This is probably not a sustainable solution, and arguably, the benefits of increased confidence are overshadowed by the negative effects on the parts of the brain needed for language processing. So evaluate your sober confidence level and if it isn’t high, try searching for a language coach, resources or techniques that can be used to raise it!
Level +1, Motivation, Neural Associations, Long-term, Strategy