Breaking the Silence: Overcoming App-Induced Anxiety

Let me just get this out there first… I am not against language learning via an app.  I really am not.  It’s just that at some point or another, you’re going to need some human input.

In today’s digital age, language learning has become more accessible than ever, thanks to the abundance of language learning apps. These tools offer structured lessons, interactive exercises, and personalised feedback, making it easier for learners to study at their own pace.

However, despite the convenience and effectiveness of these apps, many learners find themselves struggling to speak the language confidently in real-life situations.  I’ve lost count of how many people have joined our classes after INSANE streaks on Duolingo (I mean YEARS!)… but they literally cannot string a sentence together.

So, what exactly is it that makes that next step all the more daunting for the language-learning app-enthusiast?

The Illusion of Competence:

Language learning apps provide a structured environment where learners can practice vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. However, this controlled environment can create a false sense of proficiency. You may feel confident in your ability to recognise words and phrases on the app but struggle to produce them spontaneously in conversations.

Fear of Making Mistakes:

One of the biggest barriers to speaking a new language is the fear of making mistakes. You might worry about mispronouncing words, using incorrect grammar, or being misunderstood. This fear is amplified in app-based learning environments, where there is little room for error.

Lack of Spoken Practice:

Language learning apps primarily focus on reading, writing, and listening skills, with limited opportunities for spoken practice. While these skills are essential for language acquisition, speaking is a crucial component of communication… I mean, is that not what you’re actually learning the language for in the first place?   Without sufficient practice speaking the language, you may struggle to build your communicative confidence.

Overcoming App-Induced Anxiety:

There’s only one way you can overcome app-induced language learning anxiety; you must actively seek out opportunities for spoken practice. Language exchange partners, conversation clubs, and immersion experiences are excellent ways to practice speaking in a supportive environment. It’s essential to embrace imperfection and view mistakes as valuable learning opportunities rather than failures.

Why not start with low-pressure interactions, such as speaking with friends or family members who are supportive and understanding. As you become more comfortable, you can gradually increase the complexity of communication tasks and seek out more challenging speaking opportunities.

Oh… and did we mention that here at Speech Bubble that’s *exactly* what we do in our classes?  We provide you with a safe, fun environment that get’s you conversing from day one.  We ensure you are suitably armed with support and encouragement to take those tentative steps towards fluency.  No pressure, no judgement, just banter.

Fancy joining us?  Visit Learn with us – Speech Bubble Languages to find a class near you!

Why Language-Learning should NOT be a New Year Resolution

So, here’s my take on new year resolutions, and why learning a new language should not be one of them.

At this point of the year, across our network we have a massive influx of people enquiring about learning a new language with us.  This is great for business of course – and do please continue to enquire!   But I thought you might like to hear this little insight from over five years of running our schools.  Our data shows that students who started learning a language with us at other points of the year notably in summertime, or at the start of an academic year, are still learning with us years later.  Those who started learning early in the year as a new year resolution, perhaps that January, February time, are the students who have a greater percentage chance of dropping out before the end of the first year.

Why is that the case?  Personally, I believe that it’s not worth putting extra pressure on yourself at this time of the year.  A point where we should be in hibernation. We are just coming out of a month of two of overindulgence.  We are tired, skint, miserable… not to mention the darkness which is just horrid.  This is not a good time to put another layer of pressure on yourself.

As we move into the spring-time we are more likely to view new ideas and new plans more positively.  Also, in summer we may have been on holiday and perhaps realised how crap we actually are at speaking Spanish or French, and therefore we see a real motivation and a practical application of this resolution to learn a new language.

I think it’s worth bearing in mind that language-learning, if done correctly, should be a complete change in a way of life. Learning a language is not something that can be done in a new year or even in the space of one year for that matter.  Learning a language is something that takes a lifetime, or at least five, six or seven years to gain the sort of fluency that these new year resolution-makers might have in their mind as their goal.  Let’s be honest, how many times have you said you’re going to go on a fitness kick in January, only to be carrying those extra pounds when you reach the beach in summer? And by the way, still not being able to say more that “merci” or “gracias”.

So, think about it. Take a pause.  Don’t be in such a rush. By all means, put language learning on your new year’s resolution list. But be aware that this is not just a flash in the pan.  If you embark on this journey, recognise that it will take more than just a few months at the start of the new year to achieve your goals.

And of course, if you do choose to learn a language this year, you know where to come. 😊

Breaking Language Barriers: Can you achieve fluency without crossing borders?

I’ve always maintained that to truly reach such dizzy heights of fluency it’s necessary to actually spend a considerable time living in the country where the language is spoken.  In this blog we hear from Carol, one of our Speech Bubbles who has just returned from a study break in Spain last month.  We also answer the question: “Can you achieve fluency without crossing borders?”

I started learning languages at secondary school, and continued study on into university and beyond.  Personally, I felt like after several years of study I reached a plateau, a point where the progress seemed to almost grind to a halt.  What was the solution to this?  ERASMUS.  Two years spent living and studying in Europe, after which I returned to Scotland fully tri-lingual.

Carol is one of our Speech Bubble students who has been studying Spanish with us for around three years.  In October, Carol, alongside several other students, spent a week on an immersive Spanish language and culture course in the beautiful coastal town of Nerja, near Malaga.

So, tell us, what were the classes like?

Having done the online grammar test before I left for Spain.  We then had a short one to one interview with a tutor on the first morning before being allocated to groups.

There were 10 of us in my group, and classes were from 9-12 each morning.  We had the same tutor throughout.  Gaële Lopez was excellent; a bubbly personality with a positive approach.  I found the course content to be mostly on the right side of challenging.  There was a lot of vocabulary and situations that I was already familiar with, however they were presented in a slightly different way which made us really think about what we were doing.

My ‘classroom’ had French doors out into the garden where breakout groups could take place and where there was a café set up for break times.  It was beautiful.

Which activities did you take part in?

I hadn’t given this much thought before I went (I was too busy panicking!).  Of course, the whole experience is about learning the language and learning about the culture of Spain, and a lot of the activities are included in the cost.  I went to all of the activities scheduled for my group:

  • A workshop on the life and works of Picasso
  • A guided tour of Nerja
  • An excursion to the mountain village of Frigilliana
  • An evening tapas tour!

For all of the events only Spanish was spoken. The tutors were very clear about not using any other language so ordering tapas etc all had to be done in Spanish.  Our first venue for the tapas night was Bar Redondo – I happened to be sitting close to the tutor for that activity, and heard her saying to one of the waiters that he was not to speak anything but Spanish to us.  This is really great from a language and cultural point of view.

Tell us about where you stayed.

I was impressed by the accommodation.  My second-floor bedroom was a twin room with ensuite, fridge and tiny balcony.  It was very clean and it was nice to sit on the balcony and watch Spanish life go past.  On the roof of the building, they have a sun terrace with tables and chairs should you want to study, sun loungers if you want to sunbathe, and a rooftop pool.  I had chosen to arrange a transfer from Malaga airport to the school and a driver was waiting for me and took me direct to the accommodation.

Would you recommend a trip like this to others?

I would rate this highly.  One of the things I noticed is that the staff – from the directors to the cleaning staff – had all been briefed to speak only Spanish to us.  It was lovely to bump into one of the cleaners in the morning and have a conversation in Spanish, similarly with the lady who dispensed coffee in the breakfast room and at break times.  I would absolutely recommend the school and the accommodation. The night before I left to travel to the school, I was so nervous that I would have given anything for my flight to be cancelled (!), but I knew that if I did it, I would feel a real sense of achievement and that proved to be the case.  I plan to repeat my trip again very soon!



Embarking on a study trip to Spain is a transformative experience, offering a unique blend of academic enrichment and cultural immersion. Beyond language proficiency, students can gain firsthand insights into Spanish history, art, and cuisine. Interacting with locals fosters a deep understanding of the vibrant culture, creating memories that last a lifetime.

However, in an increasingly interconnected world, the pursuit of language fluency has now transcended geographical boundaries. The question of whether it’s possible to become fluent in a language without setting foot in the country where it is spoken is a topic that sparks debates among language enthusiasts.

It’s undeniable that modern technological advancements and globalisation have revolutionised language learning. Online platforms, language exchange programs, and virtual immersion experiences provide learners with unprecedented access to authentic language materials and native speakers. These resources allow individuals to immerse themselves in the language without leaving their home.

While visiting a country can undoubtedly enhance language acquisition by exposing learners to local dialects and cultural nuances, it would be wrong for me to say that it is a prerequisite for fluency. The key lies in consistent practice, exposure to diverse linguistic contexts, and utilising available technology. Virtual interactions with native speakers, engaging in language exchange communities, and consuming authentic media contribute significantly to language proficiency.

Ultimately, the journey to fluency is a personal one, and success depends on the learner’s dedication and approach. The world is a digital playground for language learners, offering limitless opportunities to become fluent without the need for a passport.

But no digital alternative can quite give you that same buzz you get with speaking the language “IRL” in-real-life… and you can’t deny that a week or two in the sunshine definitely has its advantages too!

I’m glad I’ve still got my passport… and I will most certainly be joining Carol and our other students on our next trip in 2025!

To find out more about the places mentioned in this blog:

Escuela de Idiomas Nerja:

Bar Redondo



Top Back-to-School Tips for Language Learners

Whether you’re starting a new language course or continuing your studies, it’s important to set yourself up for success from the beginning. Here are some essential back-to-school tips tailored specifically for language learners.


  1. Set Clear Goals


Begin by defining what you want to achieve with your language studies. Is it to travel comfortably, communicate with native speakers, or excel academically? Having clear objectives will help you stay focused and motivated throughout the year.


  1. Create a Study Schedule


Consistency is key in language learning. Establish a realistic study schedule that includes dedicated time for listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Remember the key to revision is little and often – aim for 3 or 4 sessions of just around 20 minutes each week.  You can easily fit this into your day


  1. Immerse Yourself in the Language


Surround yourself with the language as much as possible. Change your phone, social media, and computer settings to the target language. Listen to music, watch movies, and read books or articles in that language. This immersion will help you internalise the language more quickly, and will help “tune your ear” to the sounds too.


  1. Utilise Language Learning Apps and Tools


Take advantage of technology. There are simply bucket-loads of language learning apps out there such as Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, and HelloTalk.  These apps can provide interactive and engaging ways to practice and improve your skills. If you’re currently learning with us, don’t forget you have FREE access to Languagenut too!


  1. Join Language Groups or Clubs


Participating in language groups or clubs can provide a supportive community of like-minded individuals. You can exchange tips, practice speaking, and even organise study sessions together. This social aspect of learning can be incredibly motivating.


  1. Practice Speaking Regularly


Speaking is a crucial aspect of language learning. Find language partners or conversation exchange programs to practice speaking with native speakers or fellow learners. If possible, consider enrolling in a conversation class or hiring a tutor.


  1. Keep a Language Journal


Maintain a journal where you can record new vocabulary, grammar rules, and examples of sentences or phrases you find challenging. This journal will serve as a handy reference for review and reinforcement.


  1. Set Realistic Expectations


Language learning is a gradual process, and it’s important to be patient with yourself. Understand that you won’t become fluent overnight, but each bit of progress is a step toward your ultimate goal.


  1. Seek Feedback and Correct Mistakes


Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. In fact, they’re a natural part of the learning process. Seek feedback from teachers, language partners, or native speakers, and use it to improve your skills.


  1. Stay Motivated and Have Fun


Lastly, remember to enjoy the journey. Find ways to make learning enjoyable, whether it’s by exploring cultural aspects of the language, celebrating small milestones, or rewarding yourself for achieving your goals.


By incorporating these back-to-school tips into your language learning routine, you’ll be well on your way to mastering a new language. Stay committed, be consistent, and most importantly, have fun along the way. Here’s to a successful and enriching year of language learning!