Fluency Masterclass, Part 4: Speaking

United States Government Work

Talking to strangers can be intimidating to some, but talking to a foreigner in your newly acquired foreign language? Wow, that's something daunting (even mega extroverts like me don't like the thought of that).

Well, fear not. After you have so diligently practised your  core skills in reading, writing and listening, you should already notice the confidence levels rising significantly. If you have read aloud, you have in fact made large strides in your speaking. Time to get chatting!

Prepare set dialogues

English tutor Mike Shelby, who writes helpful articles on all sorts of aspects of language learning, recommends that you pretend you're an actor for this one. What a fun idea! Find a real-life dialogue or even create your own script and get playing. There are many predictable situations you can use for this, for example greetings, shopping or restaurant bookings.

Practice mirror techniques

No, sorry, it doesn't count as French mirror practice when you spend 10 minutes putting a lot of Chanel make-up on. Mirror techniques are all the ones you use when you are checking yourself and getting used to yourself speaking the new language. The easiest way to do this is to record yourself using a smartphone, webcam or a cheap little dictaphone.

But don't neglect the real mirror either: if it's difficult to make a particular sound, read up on how to do it (a th in English, a Spanish ñ, a German umlaut..) and then try to look at your mouth as you pronounce the words. This can be a helpful trick for learning about the sounds you're producing.

Recite something you love

pic by mustafakhayat

Rliberni's language blog gives readers a great tip for becoming a confident speaker: Learn through recital! If there is a piece of poetry, song or even a newspaper headline that you really love, just learn it. How cool will it be to impress your German friends by pulling some Loriot quotes out of the bag next time you see them? Or how about spicing up the next date with a bit of Appolinaire?

Okay, then. Maybe not quite, but appreciate how poems are crafted to bring out the beauty in language through rhythm, rhyme and vocabulary.

Make mistakes

If this sounds weird to you, then think about how little practice you're going to get worrying about getting things wrong. That's right. On to the next one. 

You are ready. Do it. Honestly, just try.

The abovementioned techniques are fantastic ideas to help you get started, get prepared and almost ready for talking. But the final step is entirely up to you. Just go out and talk to someone! You could have a go at Verbling or Italki or meet up with a local language tutor. Many cities also have a language exchange or café somewhere - try a local school or university for example.

Or if you like it bold, phone up a company abroad and going nearly through with a hotel or restaurant booking. Cheeky! If you need it, the German for "I'm going through a tunnel" would be something like "Entschuldigung, ich höre Sie gar nicht mehr....mir ist grad der Empfang weg..." 

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