If there is one issue which is likely to hold you back more than any other when learning a foreign language it is a fear of your own voice. I still cringe sometimes when someone speaks to me in Spanish I hear the reply coming back from my mouth in a tiny, hesitant voice.
It is something I am still working on improving but if you want to embrace a new language and make it your own then here are some tips I have found to be useful in this respect.
Listen to Yourself
Even when I listen to myself in English I hate my own voice. Reassuringly, just about everyone else seems to feel the same way. I mean that they hate their own voices, not mine. This is because we are used to hearing ourselves in a different way from the way others hear us. Our words reach us through our bodies as well as our ears, so we usually sound higher pitched then we expect when we listen to a recording of our voice. If we add in the fact that we all tend to speak more hesitantly with a new language it is no surprise that hearing a recording of yourself in a foreign tongue is bound to be weird at first. My suggestion, therefore, is to listen to yourself more. Record yourself speaking the language you are learning and play it back until you get used to your own voice and get more comfortable with it.
I am not entirely sure of the scientific benefits of this one but it works for me. I sing in Spanish a lot and this somehow makes me more comfortable with the sound of my own voice. I don’t mean mumbling under my breath on the bus while tapping my foot in a random way. No, I mean full blooded, rock god screaming in the shower and rather gentler crooning while I am cooking. Singing seems to be a fantastic way of getting comfortable with new words and making the new language come out more naturally, especially if you sing the same songs over and over again.
Become More Confident
The fact that you stumble over words and hesitate more in a foreign language is going to make your own voice sound weak and fragile when you hear it. The solution which works for me is just to try and talk more fluently, even if it means occasionally hitting the wrong word. I would rather speak in a normal sounding way but not get all the words exactly right than stumble along painfully at a word a minute. This means losing your fear of making a mistake and perhaps the best way of doing this is to realise that you are more likely to learn from your mistakes anyway.
Your voice needs to become your friend when you are learning a foreign language. Learn to use it with confidence and you will progress in your studying far more quickly.