How to Improve Your English: Psychological Barriers for International Students


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One of the biggest challenges that international students face is a psychological barrier to speaking a foreign language. Even if they are fluent in it, there are many factors that make conversations with natives quite difficult.

One of the most common issues causing the inability to speak a foreign language is psychological affect. It refers to various emotional factors that may influence language use. They involve the following:

  • basic personality traits (e.g. shyness, self-confidence)
  • long-term factors  (e.g. attitudes, motivation)
  • constantly fluctuating states (e.g. anxiety, boredom, apathy, and so on). 

You’ve probably noticed that emotions often play a key role in your communication. With some people, you may sense a feeling of positive interest and enthusiasm for speaking in a foreign language, while with others you may experience disinterest, stress, or anxiety. As a conversation is a social activity, it is bound to arouse emotions, some of which may be obstacles to speaking with natives. So affective factors influence our ability to use a foreign language while interacting with people. 
In fact, there is pretty much information about psychological barriers available on the Internet. Communication difficulties are so common today that many articles are written to explain this problem. For example, you can find many different essays on psychology-related topics at that may help you overcome your fears in communication with English native speakers or other international students. Essay samples presented on this website can provide you valuable information on how to make your English learning more effective and use this language in everyday life. 
So if you need to deal with psychological issues that don’t let you be fluent, consider the tips below! 

  • Accept your failures 

You should realize that you will fail a lot, and this is inevitable. For sure, learning a new language is a difficult process, so there is no need to be hard on yourself when making mistakes. It’s a fact that even those who are fluent in English will have psychological barriers due to cultural differences. 
One must expect that the native’s speaking is something completely different from what they were taught in schools. Rather than getting frustrated by this, accept that this is all an inevitable part of studying abroad.

  • Seek spontaneous conversations

Most international students are afraid to accidentally enter a conversation in English. Anyway, no matter how challenging it may be, it’s worth trying.
The more one speaks a language, the easier it gets. Use every opportunity to practice your speaking despite your obsessive fear of making mistakes. Remember, that they are a part of learning that is followed by growth. 
Bear in mind that when most people meet a foreigner, they usually appreciate his or her efforts to speak their language. So look for a chance to speak since it will help you in the long term.

  • Go beyond your language group

It’s natural for newcomers to only seek out others who speak their native language. When studying abroad, being homesick is quite common. This makes international students surround themselves with people from their home country in order to make their lives more comfortable. However, this doesn’t contribute to adjusting to foreigners’ new home.
Even though the temptation to hang out with people speaking your language is so strong, it makes sense to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Keep getting better by learning your own limits and having a goal in sight.

  • Become a part of a club 

One of the best things international students can do in a new country is to join a club that interests them. Find something you really like, it can be sports, board games, or movies, so you’ll enjoy the activities there. 
In this case, your English language will be less important because there won’t be so much pressure to speak fluently. Moreover, you can quickly make friends over your common interests. Just research what clubs are there at your university and have fun with the natives!

  • Study with someone

When you are learning a new language on your own, you can’t understand everything. Fighting a language barrier alone is quite difficult, so it’s better to find like-minded people to overcome obstacles together. Speaking in groups can do wonders for your fluency. 
All in all, to overcome your language barrier, find the courage to take part in some short small talks. Your goal must be to communicate in a foreign language, regardless of your proficiency level. Use the recommendations given above to let go of your fears and progress in speaking! 
Please be advised that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the author or his/her sources and do not necessarily reflect those of English Forward. This includes, but is not limited to, third-party content contained on or accessible through the English Forward websites and web pages or sites displayed as search results or contained within a directory of links on the English Forward network.


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