learning a new language advice

Morning all
well, i’ll be off to spain for an extended stay at the start of next year.
i have friends out there and have myself studied spainish for 2 plus years so i have a certain amount of confidence BUT…

I am aware that people judge you by how you talk, basically i will appear to be a bumbling idiot based on my spanish language skills!
the pauses, the errors in conjugation, the mumbling…

Are there any tips anyone can give?
Or do i just have to knuckle down and get studying (i kind of know this is the answer )

Just speak it, as much as possible before you go, but accept that you will still make mistakes when you are over there.

Once you are there, don’t be embarrassed to speak- speaking is how your skills are going to improve. If you don’t speak Spanish because you think you’re going to sound stupid, you’re not going to get any better while you’re there - and this is a prime opportunity to really develop the ability to speak Spanish.

If any of your friends are native speakers, get them to speak only spanish with you before you go. It will give you practice and make you more comfortable with speaking.

If you can find someone to IM with in Spanish, that’ll help immensely.

Instant messaging (ICQ, AIM, MSN Messenger, etc) is quicker and more immediate than email, but unlike IRC, doesn’t force the people you are communicating with to watch you compose your message. You get a chance to pause and look up words.

I IMed for several months before speaking in Esperanto, and I’m currently looking for someone to IM with in French.

One of the major reasons why young children pick up languages so quickly but adults don’t is that children’s embarrassment circuits haven’t been fully wired yet. They’re not afraid to open their mouths and say something that might be wrong or unitentionally hilarious. Which makes them free to experiment without the awkward social constraints that adults place upon themselves.

So you’ll go a lot further in your language study if you can short out your embarrassment circuits as much as possible and develop a very healthy sense of humour. Explain to people as best as you can that you’re learning the language and that you appreciate it when they correct your mistakes. Tell that that if you say something wrong/stupid/funny, that they should explain to you what you said wrong and how to correct the problem, and not to worry about hurting your feelings.

Experts recommend that you start by being born in Japan, as a Japanese baby, surrounded your whole life by Japanese friends and relatives.

Otherwise, you’re pretty much out of luck.