When it comes to learning a foreign language, there are no universal rules. Some people are capable of speaking a new language just months after they have started to learn it, while others take years, despite understanding the language well. The crucial difference between those two processes is that understanding is passive, whereas actually speaking the language is active, and therefore requires a lot more effort.
If you are struggling to take your speaking to a new level, check out these 10 ways to improve.
1. Do It for the Right Reasons
If you are just learning a foreign language because you need it for a test or work, you will treat it as a chore. You need to realize that knowing a foreign language can enrich all areas of your life. The key is to let it in, and see all the benefits it can offer you.
2. Create Opportunities to Speak in Foreign Language
If there aren't any clubs or communities where you can speak with native speakers, there are plenty of chances to do it online, through social media or chat apps. You can also start writing and honing your knowledge of a foreign language that way. Also, every time you travel outside your own country is yet another perfect opportunity.
3. Approach it as an Adventure
For many learners, a foreign language is just another subject they have to learn by heart. Working as a language tutor for Essaysontime, I noticed that this is exactly the reason why my students were stagnating in their attempts to speak fluently. Once they realized that the goal is not to cram and get a good grade, they started making real progress while learning to speak in a more relaxed and natural way.
4. Rely on Multiple Sources
Instead of just using books to learn a new language, rely on other methods as well, such as movies, music, podcasts, and TV shows. By making the learning experience more immersive, you will be able to learn more words and phrases and become familiar with all the different contexts they can be used in.
5. Think in the Language You're Learning
Although it may seem impossible at first, you need to start thinking in a foreign language instead of translating everything into your native language and going back and forth like that. Become familiar with the common sentence structures of the language and practice making variations regularly until you recall them quickly and effortlessly. This will eliminate the need to build a sentence translating it word by word.
6. Have a Small "Database" of Words in Your Head
Speaking is a relatively fast process, which means you need to have a certain number of words inside your head which you can recall at any time. A way around this would be to focus on those words and phrases you use in your native language on a daily basis and then learn their equivalents in a foreign language. That way, you will always have your own “database” of words and phrases you can rely on at any given moment.
7. Listen More
Your ability to listen is essential here because it will help you recognize the words and understand the phrases more easily. Apart from listening to others speaking, practice your pronunciation. By combining those two, you will be on your way to understanding and articulating your thoughts almost automatically.
8. Be a Smart Reader
Once you are presented with a new text, your goal should not be to try and take each word, translate it, and then memorize it, but to learn how it fits into the overall context. That way, rather than mechanically memorizing, you will begin to understand how and why that particular word or phrase was used in that sentence.
9. Don't Get Too Hung Up on Mistakes
Every time you are trying to learn something new, you are bound to make mistakes. Lots of them. And that is perfectly fine. But, if you keep making the same ones repeatedly, focus on them and put together a list of those mistakes, figure out the reason why you are making them, as well as practice avoiding them in your speech.
If you are having trouble learning and speaking a foreign language, that doesn't mean you are not cut out for it. It just means that you need to change something in your approach, and these useful tips should help you do just that. Keep at it, practice, and before you know it, you will become fluent.
Sophia Anderson is an enthusiastic language tutor and a blogger from Australia. She believes that learning something new every day is a must. Her inspiration comes from reading books and online blog posts that cover a wide range of her interests. Talk to her on Twitter.