Recently I moved temporarily to Spain and, with no previous knowledge of the language, have been attempting to learn Spanish.

Whilst I’ve had some success picking up individual words, and can already read some simple Spanish, speaking is my real ‘problem’ area.
My biggest fear is getting words wrong – I dislike being incorrect. This fear is very unhelpful in language acquisition, as you learn from your mistakes!

And as a recent study shows, conversing is essential to language development. A UCLA study found that activities that got children talking were more conducive to language acquisition than other methods.

Each day, children hear an average of some 13,000 words spoken to them by adults and participate in about 400 conversational turns with adults. More conversations mean more opportunities for mistakes and therefore more opportunities for valuable corrections. Furthermore, they also provide an opportunity for children to practice new vocabulary. (Source:

Whilst the study focused on language acquisition in children, I think the findings can be applied to all language learning. Make the most of any opportunity you have to converse in your chosen language – and don’t be scared to make mistakes!