Perfectionists get frustrated that they can't learn to speak a language perfectly in record time. They tend to get annoyed with themselves for forgetting vocabulary or for not understanding every word of a text or a film. And speaking is very stressful, as they know that what they are saying is not perfect.
Learning a language takes time. You won't speak perfect English 3 months after you start studying. And you will make plenty of mistakes, have some embarrassing misunderstandings and make a fool of yourself when you talk about the taxi screwdriver (instead of the taxi driver. Yes, this is a real mistake.)
There is a theory of language learning which says that if you are anxious or stressed, you actually learn less than if you are relaxed. Your perfectionism is making it more difficult for you to learn.
So if you are a perfectionist, what can you do?
- Focus on the positives. You just had a conversation with someone in English? Did that person understand you? Did you understand them? Great! DO NOT think about the mistakes you made in the conversation. You just watched a video and you understood most of it? Fantastic! DO NOT stress because you can't understand every word. One day you will.
- Find a nice teacher. Someone kind, who makes you feel relaxed and happy about speaking a foreign language. This will give you confidence to speak outside of your classes.
- Laugh. So what if you said something ridiculous? It's a good story.
- Remember that most people are happy to hear you making an effort to speak their language. The majority of people do not laugh or get annoyed. And the people that do are not worth thinking about.
- If you have to do a presentation or you have a meeting in English, practise in advance. Learn some phrases (not too many!) and practise as much as you like. Once it's finished, DO NOT think about it again. It's over, you did fine.
- DO NOT try to learn big word lists. It's a waste of time. Be realistic with your goals - one word a day is perfect.
- Be kind to yourself. You are doing just fine. Everyone has good days and bad days. Some days I speak great French. Other days I'm rubbish. That's ok. Let it go.
- Don't give up!