In Part 1 I gave you 8 reasons why you should talk to yourself.
However, I know what you might say now:
“I can’t do this. It’s embarrassing!”
Yes, you can!
Begin by saying just a few words or phrases.
- This will help you overcome your initial embarrassment.
- It will make you stop translating in your head.
At the beginning you will find you are translating from your own language. Therefore repeat the words and phrases daily until they stick. From then on they will come naturally, and you won’t have to stop and and think about them anymore.
Here are a few examples:
- breakfast – have breakfast
- mobile – charge my mobile
- keys – my car keys
- stressed – a bit stressed
- waiting – waiting for the bus
Remember to smile at yourself whenever you can!
“OK, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought.”
Great! Now take it one step further.
Once the words and phrases have started flowing and you feel confident, it’s time to expand them into complete sentences. For example:
- I had coffee and toast for breakfast.
- I need to charge my mobile.
- Where are my car keys?
- I’m feeling a bit stressed today.
- I don’t like waiting for the bus.
Keep talking! Add another sentence to the first one, and another one, until you can speak about your topic for about 30 seconds.
“But I’m talking all alone.”
All right. Time for conversation!
Are you saying your sentences fluently, without having to think? Then get some conversation practice – again with yourself. Respond to what you just said.
To make it more realistic, and for extra fun, think of someone from your family, or your partner, a friend, a colleague, a neighbour. Take their role and answer the way they would.
Now you can also incorporate conversational elements, such as
- I see. / Oh, really? / What a pity. / That’s great! / How interesting.
Start with one sentence and one reply.
- I had coffee and toast for breakfast. – I usually have tea and cereal.
- I need to charge my mobile. – I’m sure you can do it at work.
- Where are my car keys? – They’re on the kitchen table.
- I’m feeling a bit stressed today. – Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.
- I don’t like waiting for the bus. – Neither do I.
This is also your chance to practise asking questions and replying to them. Besides, this is a good way to keep a conversation going.
Here’s how you could continue the mini conversations above:
- Do you prefer tea or coffee? – I like both, actually.
- How long have you had this mobile? – For almost a year.
- Why don’t you keep them in a drawer? – Good idea. I’ll do that.
- Why is that? – I’ve been working a lot lately.
- How about using the underground? – Yes, let’s go.
Again: Keep talking! Try to keep the conversation going for at least a minute.
You might have some objections though.
“But I need to talk with a native speaker.”
Talking to a non-native but competent speaker, or to a native speaker of English, is no doubt the best thing to do. However, until you get the opportunity to speak to one, just practise with yourself: the more English you speak the better. And when you meet a native or competent speaker of English, you will be able to speak to them more fluently. As you have “done your homework”, you can take better advantage of speaking to them. Listen carefully to how they express themselves, to their pronunciation, and ask them if you have any questions.
“But what about my mistakes?”
What this activity will help you to achieve is fluency and confidence, and the ability to communicate in English more easily. The focus is not on accuracy but on using English naturally and spontaneously, without thinking or translating.
For accuracy, pay close attention to phrases in audios or videos or when talking to someone else. Copy the pronunciation, rhythm and intonation of new expressions and try to use them in your conversations with yourself. If you can, ask someone if you you’re saying or using them right. And when you speak to someone else, you will have those phrases ready to use.
So start talking to yourself today! Please tell me in the comments how you are doing.
See an infographic of this topic.
What is your tip for fluency?