I love hearing myself talk. It is one of my greatest pleasures.
— Oscar Wilde
You have learnt some really useful and interesting expressions. But what can you do to practise them outside class, or after you have finished watching the film or series you picked them up from?
Languages are, first and foremost, for communicating. Everyone agrees that speaking as much as possible is key for learning a new language. However, it poses two main problems:
- A lot of learners have difficulty finding a partner to speak English with.
- Learners are often embarrassed to speak English.
And so this is what happens:
- You have nobody to speak to, so you get no speaking practice.
- You get no speaking practice, so you lack fluency.
- You lack fluency, so you feel insecure and embarrassed when speaking English.
So, what should I do?
The answer is:
TALK TO YOURSELF.
And speak out loud.
When I began to learn English as a kid, I just couldn’t get enough. So I started to talk to myself in English at home. I felt great, and I enjoyed myself tremendously.
8 great things about talking to yourself
- You have someone to talk to at all times. No need to wait or make an appointment!
- You have all the time you need to say what you want to say. You mark the rhythm.
- You decide what you want to talk about. The topics are personalized and relevant to you.
- There is no need to feel embarrassed. You will soon become more comfortable talking in English.
- You will train yourself to use English naturally and spontaneously, without translating from your own language.
- You can remember things that you say and hear better than things that you merely think about.
- It suits your level 100%.
- It’s fun.
An important piece of advice: Don’t translate from your language.
- It will make you speak with a lot of pauses while you are thinking of the words. Instead, try to come up with English as soon as you open your mouth. Train yourself to speak English spontaneously.
- It’s not a good idea trying to speak English the way you speak your own language, as the two probably work in different ways. Your listener might get confused.
This will take some time, but if you practice daily, using English will become more and more natural to you.
But what should I say?
You don’t know what you should talk about with yourself? Here are a few ideas.
- Describe what you are doing right now, and what you are going to do next.
- Remind yourself about the things you to do today (a kind of spoken to-do list).
- Talk about what you did yesterday.
- Imagine you are telling someone about your last holiday, or a party.
- Say how you feel.
- Comment on the weather, your food, the people, the news (a great source of things to say!)…
- Summarize a text you have read or a film you have seen.
- Speak about your favourite series, actor, music…
As long as you are on your own, make sure you speak to yourself aloud. And take advantage of mirrors to smile at yourself! 🙂
But even if you are out and about you can continue thinking and talking to yourself in English. Rather than talking out loud, simply make your comments mentally.
Read Part 2.
You can also download an infographic of this topic.