How many of YOU reading this article have studied a foreign language?
Plenty of textbooks on your shelves. You’ve learnt so many grammatical rules and done hundreds of excercises your whole life. But then, when you run into a tourist asking you where’s the main square of your country, you just get stuck and stutter some confused words.
Why? – Because you have just had to put your knowledge into practice!
If you do not practice a language, you are sure to forget most of what you’ve learnt and you are left only with the ability to greet and thank.
Therefore, we must consider that it’s not easy to overcome the so-called stage fright, which makes you feel so nervous that you aren’t able to talk fluently.
So, how do people really learn another language since it is so easy to forget and since we are constantly using only our native tongue?
Travelling is probably the best way to improve your language skills.
- Go visit a country speaking the foreign language you’re interested in learning. Try to travel alone, so that it can be your chance to learn to get by on your own.
- Meet new people speaking the language that you’re studying. Enjoy a multi-cultural experience mingling with people of other nationalities, try not to spend your time only with people from your own country. You should join a club or go to bars where foreigners hang out. In this way, you’ll be forced to talk with them in a foreign language. You can also get used to understanding that language and its inflections due to the different kind of accents. When you surround yourself with people who speak another language, you are more likely to pick up on things a textbook cannot teach you.
- You can’t learn a foreign language only from a book.
It is like driving a car: you can only learn it through doing it.
The most natural way to learn a new language is through talking.
Through practicing your speaking skills, day by day you’ll feel increasingly confident and you’ll be able to speak more and more fluently.
- Be the person who starts conversations. Don’t wait for others to speak to you. Get in there! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. People can only correct your mistakes when they hear you make them.
A few tips for you:
- If you get nervous when speaking, take two deep breaths before you say something. You’ll speak better when you feel relaxed.
- Gather your thoughts. Take a second to think about what you’re going to say. You know the grammar, but maybe you don’t use it correctly when you speak.
- Don’t translate from your own language into the foreign one. Start thinking in that language. Talk to yourself to get trained.. But, not on the bus, otherwise people may think you have gone crazy!
- Keep a notebook of new words you learn. Use them in sentences and try to say them at least 3 times when you speak.
- Newspapers! Try to read daily a newspaper in a foreign language. Maybe you can read it in the morning while having your breakfast or in the afternoon sitting on a park bench. In this way you can both improve your vocabulary and have some new topic to talk about with you friends.
So, if you’re trying to improve your speaking skills, what better excuse to visit the country of that language?
Open up new horizons through travelling abroad and hanging out with people from different parts of the world.
You’d better dust off your speaking skills rather than those books on your shelves.