When ‘Confused Face’ Attacks!

‘Confused face’ happens when you are trying to speak in a foreign language. You say something and the person to whom you are speaking looks at you in response as if you are an alien from outer space. Being on the receiving end of a confused face attack can be upsetting because it isn’t nice to see a person’s face scrunch up when you say something to them. If you are sensitive to people attacking you with a confused face, it can make you very shy when it comes to speaking up in a foreign language.

Your real foreign friends will never do a confused face attack on you, no matter how much your language skills actually do suck. They will always do their best to make sense of what you are saying. However, it’s possible that the relatives of your friends may knock your speaking confidence by making confused face attacks at you. Typically, the kind of person who is in the habit of making confused face attacks is someone who has never travelled out of their own county. They’re the kind of person who isn’t used to hearing anyone foreign speaking their own language (note: they would attack any foreigner with a confused face, even the ones with excellent language skills!).

Along my global travels, I’ve been hit with many confused face attacks. Sometimes my attacker wouldn’t even give me a chance to finish my sentence. As soon as my foreign accent was detected, he would run off as fast as his little legs would carry him! (Usually to get someone who might possibly somehow be able to understand my space alien talk).

Being on the receiving end of confused face attacks can really knock your confidence when it comes to speaking a foreign language. If you know what it feels like to feel embarrassed or shy when you get attacked with a confused face, it can be a big help to step outside of yourself and look at the bigger picture. Not all people give you such a strong look of disapproval when you say something. It’s the ones with weak listening skills who react in that way. Possibly, it’s also the ones why are shy or embarrassed about speaking foreign languages themselves.

Beyond intermediate level language skills, if you are still getting a lot of confused face attacks then I would recommend turning your attention to accent training. Training just one or two problem sounds in your accent can make a big overall difference to how well you are understood, in particular by native speakers who aren’t open minded or international in their outlook.

While the best thing of all is to simply stop caring or even laugh when you get hit with a confused face, for us introverts, this is easier said than done.

About Jade Joddle Jade Joddle is a speech and voice teacher who gives her non-native speaker clients back the confidence they had in their native language. She teaches high-level professionals to Speak Well in English so that they thrive and succeed.