How to unlock your language skills in your TR?

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Voytek
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How to unlock your language skills in your TR?

Postby Voytek » Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:47 pm

Do you have any special method to use your strong passive skills to forge your active skills or you simply start talking and writing in your TL?
I'm asking because I've very strong passive skills in Spanish but still find it quite difficult to write and speak in this language. I know there's no any magic pill to do that but maybe there's some good fix to relatively quickly unlock your passive language skills. Any ideas?

Or maybe most of you start developing active skills right off the bat when starting a language learning? I've neglected my active skills and that's why I'm asking you for help.
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Re: How to unlock your language skills in your TR?

Postby DangerDave2010 » Fri Mar 03, 2017 3:31 pm

I worked on my Spanish passive-only for about two years, listening perhaps to about one hour of radio talk show a day. I'm a native speaker of Portuguese, so my progress was fast. When I finally got a chance to use it, travelling to a Spanish speaking country, where I had many oportunities to interact with natives, my active skills have flourised quickly. Although I had some difficulties, the Spanish I spoke was idiomatic, using many words and constructions not found in Portuguese.

I'm taking a leap of faith that a similar approach will work for Persian. It's been three years of learning, and I feel I have reached passive fluency, my active skills are improving slowly, but they are still very poor. I think it will still take a few years for my active skills to mature, unless I be forced to interact with natives without a better common language.
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Re: How to unlock your language skills in your TR?

Postby reineke » Fri Mar 03, 2017 4:16 pm

Don't confuse receptive skills or parsing skills with strong target language skills (passive or active).

In June of last year you were supposed to finish the last level of Pimsleur Spanish. At the time, you were able to understand "about 70%" of Dora la Exploradora and "about 30%" of the Spanish translation of the Lord of the Rings. I see that you are now describing your Spanish as "C1". Congratulations! Maybe you could share with the board how you accomplished this.
Last edited by reineke on Fri Mar 03, 2017 8:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to unlock your language skills in your TR?

Postby whatiftheblog » Fri Mar 03, 2017 5:39 pm

My boring and predictable reply would be "I just made myself do it." Now, in all fairness, I am going hardcore on French for a specific purpose with a deadline, so there really wasn't any way for me to get out of writing a fancy personal statement (now done!) and practicing interview questions with a mirror/teacher.

BUT! Thinking of a non-boring answer, I did remember something weird I started doing early on that really helped: I started "vlogging". Not actually recording myself and posting it online, heaven forbid :lol: I'd just take an easily digestible topic - an interesting recent event or a book I was reading or something new I learned or, heck, some sort of vapid "here is how and why I'm paring down my wardrobe" nonsense - and basically just started doing 20-minute (sometimes much longer) sessions of talking through said topic. In the beginning it was sort of painful, I'd trip over how to say a lot of stuff, but it got considerably easier really quickly, especially since I was already bombarding myself with input. If it was something I had lots of feelingz~* on, I found myself going for an hour.

Then last week something happened: one of my best friends at work is a prankster, and when the very nice French guy who works down the hall (with whom I have never spoken, but whom she knows well) happened to be walking by, she was like, "oh hey, btw, did you know that [WHATIF] is going to school in FRANCE?" I had already spent all day weirdly anxious (more so than usual) about this whole adventure, and here she was, putting me on the spot in front of this guy, to whom I then had to explain my entire life story, and yet - I was... fine? I did well? I had all the words I needed? I used complex grammar intuitively? Maybe this "put yourself in a vat of language, cover yourself with a lid and emerge never" method actually works?! :shock:
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Re: How to unlock your language skills in your TR?

Postby Voytek » Fri Mar 03, 2017 5:56 pm

reineke wrote:Don't confuse receptive skills or parsing skills with strong target language skills (passive or active).

In June of last year you were supposed to finish the last level of Pimsleur Spanish. At the time, you were able to understand "about 70" of Dora la Exploradora and "about 30%" of the Spanish translation of the Lord of the Rings. I see that you are now describing your Spanish as "C1". Congratulations! Maybe you could share with the board how you accomplished this.


Ok, it's not a secret. A bit of L-R, Anki for the vocabulary and grammar aquisition and every day reading and listening to the radio.
Since June I've investesed about 400-500 hours into this and now I can read quite demanding books and listen to the radio at least at 95% comprehension level but all I need now is to improve the active skills and I want to start it with writing a lot in Spanish and then go to speaking since it worked with my English.

But I wonder if someone else have some other method for the language unlocking.
Last edited by Voytek on Fri Mar 03, 2017 10:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to unlock your language skills in your TR?

Postby reineke » Fri Mar 03, 2017 6:19 pm

Try Dialang and find a good Spanish message board. Maybe Cavesa can chime in and describe her language adventures in under 500 words.
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Re: How to unlock your language skills in your TR?

Postby Voytek » Sun Mar 05, 2017 8:15 pm

Anyone?
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Re: How to unlock your language skills in your TR?

Postby blaurebell » Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:40 am

I was in a similar situation a few years ago, although actually it was that I had lost my previous speaking abilities due to not using Spanish at all for 5 years apart from a little reading. I understood 99% of what I heard, but was basically mute, which was super frustrating. I just couldn't get full sentences out! What got me up to speed again was watching all of Stargate dubs in a short amount of time (2-3h a day), doing 50XP worth of *timed practice* on the old Duolingo Spanish tree every day for a couple of months and then 3 weeks of speaking in courses 3h a day.

I find radio somewhat removed from real life conversation whereas tv series are basically only real life conversation, although often on really strange topics. Let's just say that I wouldn't have any problems reacting to aliens asking for parts for their broken spaceship :lol: Closest to real life conversations are properly native soap operas, but I find them extremely hard to bear normally. If you have any resistance to that kind of thing and if you're looking for lots of colloquial continental spanish expressions, there is a totally stupid but strangely addictive series called El internado. For Argentinian Spanish I can recommend Tratame bien, which is hilariously unbelievable, but somewhat funny and full of colloquial Argentinian expressions. You can find similar series for most Spanish accents, just pick a country and start looking for popular tv series that teenagers like. However, don't expect good TV, most of that kind of stuff is mildly entertaining stereotypical nonsense full of story holes. They do speak in an authentic manner normally though. The more you hear conversations on that level the more the expressions and fill words will just start tumbling out of your mouth while you're trying to speak. Especially knowing the usual fill words is great to bridge spaces when your brain is hunting for vocabulary. Also, the more you immerse yourself in actual spoken language - not radio documentaries or stuff like that - the more likely it is that the first thing out of your mouth will be in the right language.

As for Duolingo timed practice: I found that super helpful - you're on a deadline, so you quickly have to produce correct Spanish. Only problem is that they dumbed down the Spanish tree so much since I used it this way that there is hardly any production in there anymore. I suggest you pick any reverse tree from Spanish - learning English from Spanish for example - and start doing timed practice there. Most of what you have to produce will be Spanish this way round. After a while even longer sentences will start to form quickly. And if the Spanish base has any language that you're also trying to maintain, it's doubly efficient.

And then of course you will have to just speak a lot. If you feel self-conscious and still have to think a lot, maybe Michel Thomas can help you to overcome that. You can also try to write text messages or chat messages instead because those give you time to look things up, it's good practice. Once you've built a bit of confidence that way, just book some italki sessions and get to speaking a lot. Make sure you have practiced the most common topics beforehand by just talking to yourself - seems silly, but it really helps to identify gaps in active vocabulary - what do you do, where are you from, why are you learning spanish, what kind of stuff do you like, your hobbies, that sort of thing. Improvement will be most noticeable if you really focus on production for 1-3h a day. Adjust that according to difficulty and stop when you get a headache. That's your brain saying that anything further will be useless. If that happens in the middle of an italki session, have some questions prepared for the tutor, grammar or questions about cultural differences. At the beginning I find even 20min of open conversation super straining, later the headache hits only after I spend half the day speaking the language with a group of friends. Most importantly, have fun! Watch things that interest you - even if it's dubbed it will help because they try to make it sound as naturally as possible for native speakers -, also don't force yourself to speak about topics you wouldn't speak about in your own language. If you find yourself at a loss for topics beyond basic small talk, then depending on the right tutor you can decide to discuss movies, literature or technology and prepare your sessions accordingly. The rest will come automatically.
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Re: How to unlock your language skills in your TR?

Postby zenmonkey » Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:00 pm

It's very easy to focus on strengths and neglect the pain of speaking and writing.
I do it. A lot.

Find yourself a talking partner that has no "cost" - that is to say, no emotional cost - speaking poorly is embarrassing and therefore we tend to avoid it.

So, use any source - ASSIMIL, your reading texts, to just get used to repeating and pronouncing texts. Or even just copying texts. Exercising the production muscle.

Find a tandem on italki or elsewhere (outside your place of work or school)... that is expected to make mistakes. Do that for a while.

Use an immersive technique where you force yourself to write or produce on the daily - either your blog, your posts here, a forum, etc... start small, keep it simple, but produce. Even if it is just 3 short sentences in front of the mirror, doing it on the daily will get you used to it.

Speed, repetition and courage are all built together.
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Re: How to unlock your language skills in your TR?

Postby Finny » Wed Mar 08, 2017 1:59 am

For Spanish, it was almost completely all from input. In the later stages, I started reading aloud, and I'd help interpret from time to time, but the lion's share was all the listening and reading I did, followed by time reading aloud to give my speech muscles practice. I'm part of the cult of belief that with enough input, it takes very little effort to produce output.

For French, I was on a tighter schedule, and started speaking much sooner than I did in Spanish because I wanted to add it as a 3rd language for the kids while they were young enough for it to be learned natively. I started painfully speaking in simple sentences on French days, and it got easier with time. I'd still only rate myself as B1 active, but I've hit the point where when asked if I speak French, I can say yes instead of only saying I'm learning it.
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