How can I overcome fear of speaking in French? (Listening activity)

Jun 26, 2023

Are you afraid to speak French in front of people? 

Speaking in French in front of other people often causes huge anxiety for some people. And despite all the learning, the textbooks, and the preparations, we still feel like we are the only ones feeling this!

I believe that is because we don’t like to admit to others that we lack confidence, especially when we find out that many people in high-powered jobs and responsible jobs also sometimes feel crushed when it’s time to speak French to others. 

So, I have put together all the skills I use to overcome imposter syndrome, to explore the outside of the comfort zone. This is French so you learn French as well.

Therefore, I have a mini listening activity for you - can you work out what you're listening to this?

Here's what you will be focusing on in this mini-lesson:

  • Straightforward skills to overcome fear of speaking in French
  • How you can implement the action steps mentioned
  • How you can use this exercise as a writing exercise too



How do you really feel when you talk in French?

Depending on your personality, may experience something unique while talking in French. For instance, you could feel shame or maybe fear. On the contrary, you could be at ease, enthusiastic...

How do you really feel? This is the first essential step:  pinpoint your emotion when you speak French in front of someone.

Switch your emotion into a benefit.

You may be ashamed or shy when you speak French and it's totally normal. By the way, it's a good sign. Why?

Because it means you are a perfectionist. You prefer to take time to build the perfect sentence in your head. Your goal is to avoid mistakes. As soon as you embrace mistakes, you will relax and speak more. Just try to see if it works...


Inhale when you talk in French.

As stressed as you can be, don't forget to breathe. Controlling your breath will always help you, especially in complex situations. It regulates your blood, your body and brain.


Focus on your goal.

If your goal is clear, you won't ask yourself why you are talking in French. Since you are aware of the results you are seeking, you will be motivated and words will naturally come out of your brain then mouth!

Are you learning French for your next position? For your next trip to France? Or is it to order your food in French?


Never overthink while expressing yourself in French.

When you speak in your language, do you intend to speak perfectly or do you merely wish to communicate? Well, do the same in French! Sure, it may not be natural for you but just pretend it is. That way, you will obtain what you need: some answers, some information, a service, a product...

Don't try to show off with complex words or structures. Focus on the message you desire to communicate.


Don't be too harsh on yourself.

Do you sometimes have the feeling that the person in front of you is judging you? You may be wrong! Maybe you simply didn't speak loud enough and you think you made a mistake...

Have you ever wondered if it wasn't you who judged yourself in the first place? Try to relax and talk as if making mistakes didn't matter...Besides, if the person answers you despite of your mistakes, it's a win. No need to be perfect.


Embrace your fear and play with it.

As I mentioned in the first section, identifying your emotions is the first step. Then, when you are aware of them, you can act on them.

The emotion number 1 that everybody feels when talking in front of (a lot of) people is...fear. And in a foreign language, things get even worse.

So, what can you do? Well, be aware of this natural feeling and check how it manifests itself. Are you sweating? Are you mumbling? Are you touching your hair or another part of your body every 2 minutes? Are you losing your words?

As soon as you recognise the signs, you can reassure yourself. Indeed, you know it's natural and you can convert it into something positive. 


Step out of your comfort zone.

Speaking in front of an audience requires effort. In addition, expressing yourself in a foreign language means more energy from you. Be brave! Challenge yourself because, after this moment, you will be so proud of yourself.

Oui, going out of your comfort zone is scary but the reward is immense. I assure you that it's worth it.



Guidelines to make the most of this listening exercise in French.

Watch the video, just listening first then again, trying to note everything you can. Repeat it as many times as you like. You can even slow it down and use it for pronunciation practice. DON’T watch the video at first or you will see the text. 


Don’t despair if you don’t recognise all the words! This is the best exercise you can do because the more you practise dictations, the easier it gets to understand French.

My goal this year is to help you with your listening comprehension and offer you various listening activities during the year.

If you struggle with your listening skills and are looking to have more fluid conversations with like minded people at your level of French, then check out how having a teacher support in small groups could make a massive difference to your spontaneous listening skills.

Here’s how joining Conversation Café can help you understand spontaneous spoken French more easily.

Click here to check out our conversation café sample.



Transcript and the Translation 

Bonjour tout le monde

Tu hésites avant de parler en français - pas à cause d’un manque de vocabulaire ou de grammaire, mais . . . parce que tu as peur d’avoir honte devant les autres et de te sentir inférieur. 

En gros, tu es perfectionniste et tu as peur que les autres te jugent. 

Pas de panique! Je vais te donner quelques conseils qui pourront vraiment t’aider. Je t’ai fait une petite liste pour que ça soit plus facile à retenir.

J’ai ce qu’il te faut ! Je suis là ! C’est parti ! 


Facile à dire mais souvent on retient son souffle. On manque alors d’oxygène, on crispe les épaules et les muscles et on adopte une position défensive. On alimente la peur ! 

Quoi faire ? Fais une pause - inspire profondément. Relaxe les muscles et laisse l’inspiration envahir ta tête. Contrôle tes pensées, sinon, la peur te contrôlera.


OK, tu as inspiré. Maintenant focalise-toi sur ce que tu veux, pourquoi tu es là: Quel est ton objectif?

L’achat d’une baguette, le remboursement d’un prêt, une invitation d’un voisin chez toi pour l’apéro ? Et cela te permet de reprendre la parole.


Ne complique pas ce que tu veux dire - la simplicité laisse le temps de réfléchir. 

Fais des phrases simples et courtes.

Et ne sois pas trop préparé, en écrivant un dialogue, par exemple. 

La spontanéité est importante dans une conversation mais une liste de mots clés t’aidera à parler naturellement.

Après tout, plus de 50 pour cent de l’interaction provient de la communication et de la connexion, le but n’étant pas d’être parfait.

La recherche de la perfection est un frein à la progression.


Il se peut que la personne qui est en face de toi n’ait pas conscience de ton anxiété.

Tes pensées négatives vont t’empêcher de progresser. 

Dis-toi que la personne en face de toi veut juste discuter et peut-être rendre service. “Donne-lui l’opportunité de le faire au lieu de ne penser qu’à toi !”


Tu ne peux pas éliminer la peur. Donc, il faut simplement la reconnaître et l’accepter. Convertis-la en énergie positive pour trouver l’inspiration, et les prochains mots que tu diras te permettront de te rapprocher de ton objectif. 

  • Tes paumes sont moites - inspire et pense au but visé 
  • Ton coeur bat trop vite - inspire profondément et visualise ton objectif
  • Tu penses que tu seras critiqué et que l’on va se moquer de toi ? Visualise ton objectif et fiche-toi de ce que les gens peuvent penser.    


Tes pensées vont te conseiller de ne pas te mettre en danger. Ton corps va réagir et te faire éviter toute situation inconfortable. 

Mais, il ne faut qu’une petite inspiration et garder en tête l’objectif visé ainsi que la satisfaction que tu auras quand tu l’auras atteint.  

N’oublie pas qu’au-delà de la peur sont l’apprentissage, le développement et la satisfaction personnelle. 

Et voilà !

J’espère que tout cela marchera bien pour toi !


And here’s the English . . .

Hello everybody

You hesitate before speaking in French - not because of a lack of vocabulary or grammar, but . . . because you are afraid of being ashamed in front of others and of feeling inferior.

Basically, you are a perfectionist and you are afraid that others will judge you.

Do not panic! I'm going to give you some tips that can really help you. I made a short list for you to make it easier to remember.

I have what you need ! I am here to help ! Let's go !


Easy to say but often we hold our breath. We then lack oxygen, we tense our shoulders and muscles and we adopt a defensive position. We feed fear!

What do we do ? Pause - take a deep breath. Relax the muscles and let the inspiration invade your head. Control your thoughts, otherwise fear will control you.


OK, you inspired. Now focus on what you want, why you are here: What is your goal?

The purchase of a baguette, the repayment of a loan, an invitation from a neighbor to your house for an aperitif? And that allows you to speak again.


Don't complicate what you want to say - simplicity allows time to think.

Write simple and short sentences.

And don't be too prepared, by writing dialogue, for example.

Spontaneity is important in conversation, but a list of keywords will help you speak naturally.

After all, more than 50 percent of interaction comes from communication and connection, the goal is not to be perfect.

The search for perfection is a brake on progress.


The person in front of you may not be aware of your anxiety.

Your negative thoughts will prevent you from progressing.

Tell yourself that the person in front of you just wants to chat and maybe help. “Give him the opportunity to do it instead of only thinking about you!”


You cannot eliminate fear. So, you just have to recognize it and accept it. Convert it into positive energy for inspiration, and the next words you say will bring you closer to your goal.

Your palms are sweaty - inhale and think about the goal

Your heart is beating too fast - take a deep breath and visualize your goal

Do you think you will be criticized and made fun of? Visualize your goal and don't care what people think.


Your thoughts will advise you not to put yourself in danger. Your body will react and make you avoid any uncomfortable situation.

But, all you need is a little inspiration and keep in mind the goal you are aiming for and the satisfaction you will have when you have reached it.

Remember that beyond fear is learning, growth and personal satisfaction.

And There you go !

I hope this all works out well for you!



I hope you found this activity helpful and that you had fun in the process. Let me know about your experience. I'd love to hear it! 

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