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    Hi there,
    Firstly, thanks for reading this. I'm currently on a year abroad working as an English language assistant at a French university. I've been living here for 5 months now (since September), and I feel like I am not making as much progress in my spoken French as I could.
    It's a very typical problem; I work in the English department, so we mainly speak in English, most of my friends are English too. In Summary, I feel like I have become trapped in an 'English bubble', where no one uses French.
    I know that the answer to this question is too swallow my pride and just find French people and speak in French to everyone. Believe me, I'm trying. I don't have a lot of confidence in my spoken French abilities at all. I can write and read without any problems, but if you heard me speak, you would think that I had never studied French in my life. I get very nervous. And have to find the vocabulary and grammar in order to express myself, and that takes time and is often unsuccessful. Finally, I'm scared to make french friends, because I have no idea what I could say to them in everyday conversation (even in English, I struggle with this). In short, I'm terrified to speak. It doesn't help that as soon as anyone hears my accent and speaking ability, they speak to me in English.
    It's not an uncommon problem at all. Is it just a case of swallowing my pride, screwing up and trying over and over again, even if it's extremely embarrassing? I haven't got a lot of time left (i leave in mid July), and I feel like I really need to make more progress. I hate being this English stereotype who only hangs around wth other English speakers.
    Does anyone have any advice, or have you been in the same situation?

    Sorry for rambling on, and feel free to give me a frank (but metaphorical) kick up the backside if needed.

    Thanks again.
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    Maybe you already do this but have you tried speaking to yourself in french? It might help you think of things faster and improve your confidence?
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    I know how hard it is because I was a shy ELA in France myself many years ago. However, since I did athletics I joined the local athletics club and it was the best thing I could have done. It brought me out of my shell, got me speaking and communicating with French people and gave me the chance to travel around a bit too, because we went to competitions in all different places.

    Doing an activity - whatever it might be - that interests you will automatically give you something to talk about and share with the French people who are also taking part.

    Try to find a group, class, club anywhere in your area that offers something you already enjoy doing or look for something that you have never tried before but would like to try out.

    Is there a cultural centre anywhere near you, for example, or a sports centre? Or if not, a local library might be able to provide you with information about local clubs and classes, or even volunteering opportunities. Check the notice boards at the university where you work, because there may be something there that would be suitable.

    It's not so much about swallowing pride as it is about screwing up the courage to take that all-important first step. I know it can be a scary thing to do but if you can get past that you will be really glad that you did.

    I hope this helps and wish you good luck for the rest of your year in France.
 
 
 
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