Speaking the Language

General discussion about learning languages
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Silvarian
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Speaking the Language

Postby Silvarian » Mon May 14, 2018 8:26 pm

Hello!

My name is Silvarian and this is my first post on this forum; really excited to be here!

A problem that I have when learning a language is actually speaking the language. I know that in order to be fluent in any language you must be able to speak it often, with the end goal being that you reach the same type of conversational spontaneity that you have when talking in your native language. I read along out loud whenever I am learning via, say, Duolingo or some other online resource, but it's not the same. I'm not creating a conversation idea and expressing it, I'm merely copying another person's phrase. And simply re-speaking someone else's words does not lead to fluency. This problem seems to be even worse with languages I'm interested in that are not as common in my area (I'm in Southwest USA) such as Finnish or Norwegian.

So my question is, how do you overcome this barrier of not being able to speak a language you're learning in an everyday setting? What are some simple, inexpensive (or free!) tools or techniques that you use that let you speak the language without simply regurgitating?

Thanks so much for any ideas!

Silvarian
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eido
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Re: Speaking the Language

Postby eido » Tue May 15, 2018 2:39 am

People commonly recommend talking to yourself. I started a log that I haven't used recently where I just forced myself to speak in Spanish for as long as I felt necessary, mistakes and all. I was hoping someone would review these recordings and tell me about how I could improve, but no one's done that yet, so clearly I picked the wrong avenue for improving my active ability.

Maybe you could do a version of this, but learn from my mistake. Find a buddy who's willing to listen to your audio samples either once you've accumulated them or once a week, or whenever. But whatever you do, don't make the other mistake I'm still intent on making, which is not loading enough stuff into your brain before you do it. Read and write to practice the forms of the sentences and the words. Speaking is like the final exam. Or maybe it's the reverse, because speaking helps writing, and writing helps speaking. It's a crazy loop! :shock:
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renaissancemedici
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Re: Speaking the Language

Postby renaissancemedici » Tue May 15, 2018 5:01 am

Take every opportunity to use the language, including writing a journal or talking by yourself describing what you do etc. Role play for possible situations. Imitate film dialogues. Create your own little dialogue and word book. There is so much good advice people will give you.

Most importantly, don't be afraid of mistakes. Accept you'll make them anyway, and speak, speak, speak!
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Uncle Roger
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Re: Speaking the Language

Postby Uncle Roger » Tue May 15, 2018 7:32 am

Reading the foreign language out loud can be a good basis to start from.
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Ani
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Re: Speaking the Language

Postby Ani » Tue May 15, 2018 7:46 am

The problem might be that you have 5 beginner languages.

As a beginner, you really don't want to be making up much language on your own. You want to be using other people's phrases, hopefully appropriately recombined to express your own ideas as you build a basis for the language. There comes a tipping point after a while where you can barely help but have TL words and phrases popping to mind. From there it is a small hurdle to fluent conversation.

I'd recommend picking just one language to bring to a solid level.
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Silvarian
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Re: Speaking the Language

Postby Silvarian » Tue May 15, 2018 2:19 pm

Ani wrote:The problem might be that you have 5 beginner languages.

As a beginner, you really don't want to be making up much language on your own. You want to be using other people's phrases, hopefully appropriately recombined to express your own ideas as you build a basis for the language. There comes a tipping point after a while where you can barely help but have TL words and phrases popping to mind. From there it is a small hurdle to fluent conversation.

I'd recommend picking just one language to bring to a solid level.

That's good advice. I feel that I've been trying to do a little too much with several languages and instead I should be focusing on getting just one or two up to a proficient level. Thanks :)
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leosmith
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Re: Speaking the Language

Postby leosmith » Tue May 15, 2018 10:40 pm

Silvarian wrote:not being able to speak a language you're learning in an everyday setting

Why does it have to be in an everyday setting? Why not just arrange language exchange meetings on skype or a similar venue? There are many sites for meeting exchange partners. That's a free option. Online teachers are more efficient imo, but they aren't free.
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yosoyunagringa
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Re: Speaking the Language

Postby yosoyunagringa » Wed May 16, 2018 12:49 am

I agree! I can write Spanish (the language I'm trying to learn) just fine...ish. But I just can't quickly translate Spanish in my head. I've been in Spanish for three years but I just don't think I have a mind made for Spanish.
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indeclinable
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Re: Speaking the Language

Postby indeclinable » Wed May 16, 2018 12:50 am

An alternative to speaking is memorising dialogues or small sections of books/newspapers/whatever-interest-you and recite them out loud.

It's not the same as speaking but you get a good deal of vocabulary and what's more important, you hear and imitate the way the language is used, so you learn when a certain type of vocabulary or phrases are used, what kind of intonation the language has. If you build up a sufficient vocabulary this way (say about 500 words minimum, which is approximately the number of most common used words in an average language), you will have less trouble when going real life because your brain will already know complete phrases that will adapt to the situation instead of searching word for word to build up from scratch.

Yes it's not a replacement for real exposure, but is a decent substitute.
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