Love learning languages but have social anxiety?

Hello all, thank you for checking out this post. I am a huge lover of learning languages! My native language is English and can speak Japanese. I am currently learning Spanish and German. I would like to learn Hungarian too. I grew up speaking Hungarian but slowly stopped from my teenage years, so I’ve forgotten so much. Introductions out of the way, I’d like to open a topic which contrasts me posting in a community forum.

I suffer from severe social anxiety and have always learned languages alone. It is always recommended that one practices with native speakers, but how do you get around that aspect without language learning becoming hindered? Who else has difficulties with the social aspect of learning languages and how have you managed attaining fluency and a good level of conversational skills without delving into the social side of things?

In my case, I talk to myself a lot in foreign languages. I talk to objects a lot too, and respond on their part. I read books in foreign languages a lot, play games in foreign languages as much as I can – RPG Games with a lot of dialogue choices are very helpful or simulations. I watch videos and write diaries in the language I am learning and talk to my partner and family members about things I know regarding my target language. With all these combined I end up thinking a lot in foreign languages merged with my native language and have always found this serves me very well because I become immersed in the same way one would in a social setting or in a country of one’s target language without the stress social aspects bring. Otherwise, I am unable to retain any information and my studies become negatively impacted. Even posting on community forums is problematic, since it is still very social. The social aspects one is expected to partake in within language learning is very problematic for me in my university studies. Since despite universities claiming to help those with mental illness, in my experience they fail to tackle those involving learning languages and attaining fluency without saturating oneself in social aspects. I therefore make my own world saturated in foreign languages in every way possible. I personally have never found my language learning or fluency hindered by lack of social interaction since I struggle to speak even in my native language if in social settings. Sometimes not being able to speak at all, as if English is not my mother tongue.

I’d love to hear others with similar experiences and how you manage.

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Hi! I’m quite introverted myself and am learning both Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. Fortunately, I believe most of language learning can be done without speaking to others at least for a while. Although most of my learning is alone, I have managed to step out of my comfort zone and talk a little bit to others. Getting a tutor to speak with over video calls for a half hour each week was very nerve-racking the first few times but now it feels quite normal. So for me it is gradual and just trying a little bit, but I do believe that fortunately for us, it is what you suspect and touch on yourself in your post, that the larger battle is learning the language on our own through tons of reading and listening (and maybe repeating out loud too if nobody is nearby.)

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I think there is no right or wrong way to study a new language, just what is most suitable for you.
There are so many ways and methods to learn that each of us needs to do what makes them comfortable and happy. It is important to speak and practice your conversational skills, but I see you all have different ways to do this.
My suggestion is to begin with baby steps, try talking to someone you are extremely comfortable with, and slowly you will become more comfortable and confident speaking with others. Making mistakes is a part of the learning process and there is no shame in doing so.
Good luck to everyone!

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