How can I build confidence in using a new language, especially in conversation?

I’m a new and second language learner eager to enhance my conversational skills in a new language. I often find myself lacking confidence during conversations, fearing mistakes and embarrassment. Could you share some effective strategies or tips to help me build my confidence in using this new language, especially during conversations? I’m open to any advice, whether it’s practical exercises, mindset shifts, or resources to boost my speaking skills and overcome self-doubt. Thank you in advance for your valuable insights!


Get a language partner or pay for a teacher on platforms such as Italki or Preply. In order to gain more confidence is more practice


I’m sold on ChatGPT-4 as a conversational partner and tutor for French. It’s always around, always patient and always encouraging. You can request conversation at any level and Chat is there. Chat can also translate French well and explain what’s going on in troublesome passages. It’s great for grammar questions too.

However, it is intended as text-based system, so I write and I read. There are ways to add speech, but they look a bit wonky to me for now.

I’m using Chat to get through my first efforts at output and all the many hundreds of elementary mistakes I must make and frankly would prefer not to make in front of a human, as well not paying dollars/hour for the opportunity to make those mistakes.

ChatGPT-4 costs $20/month. ChatGPT-3.5 is free and for language learning is probably almost as good.


Do you know the words and it’s more about lacking confidence? Or are you also unsure of how to say certain things?

A few things I work on recently are speaking to myself. I may try to say out loud what I did yesterday, or today. Or maybe pick something that you’ve done (like maybe a vacation or what you did with friends, etc) - try to speak about it as if you are telling another person. Start to make your own vocabulary and phrases for yourself that you use most commonly in your native language and look up how you would say these things. Or if you are trying to tell a story of something you’ve done, you may need to look up this new vocabulary. First though, try to say these things in whatever form you can. Perhaps you have to describe something if you don’t know the specific word, but give it a shot. Then look up how you might say that.

Keep what you say simple. You can say a lot with just simple language constructs. As you get super comfortable with simple, then maybe introduce some more sophisticated constructs.

Also…there may be 5 ways to say a certain phrase or a word. Choose one and stick with it until it is second nature. As you get better you can try introducing other ways of saying something to give more variety. However, I view this as very far down the road.

Then practice. Practice to yourself. You can record yourself on video (this could give a little more anxiousness over just practicing by yourself). Then you could review if you wanted what you may need to work on, but otherwise just the act of recording can “raise the stakes” a bit in the tension.

Then obviously, practicing and communicating with someone can be helpful. I like the ChatGPT recommendation from jt23 as well. That’s a good place to practice some things if you can’t find a language partner or don’t want to pay for a tutor.

Ultimately you will want real conversations, but practicing on your own will help you build confidence.