If you are serious about achieving your language learning goals, you will need to make an effort to find people to talk with.
If you live where the language is spoken, you may have friends or co-workers who are native speakers. You may be able to enroll in courses offered in the language you are learning, but on subjects other than the language itself.
This and other activities can bring you into casual and friendly contact with native speakers who share your interests.
If you don’t have ready opportunities to meet native speakers, you will have to organize small groups of learners with or without native speaker coaches to meet and discuss subjects of common interest.
Nowadays, you can easily organize meetings through various apps and websites online, where an international community of native speakers, language learners and language coaches are always happy to help you progress through the harder aspects of the language you are learning.
Successful language learners often arrange meetings, voice- and video-chat sessions, lessons or other events on subjects of interest with people all over the world. These encounters are for interaction, feedback and stimulus.
They should be enjoyable and not stressful. They can vary from serious forums on current affairs, business or academic subjects, to more relaxed social exchanges.
As an alternative to the above, if you aren’t ready to talk to other people, you can always talk to yourself. It may feel uncomfortable, but it’s really effective and it not only helps you train your speaking muscles, but it also helps you to discover any gaps that exist in your vocabulary.
Not sure what to talk to yourself about? Narrate what you’re doing or tell yourself a story about your day so far. You can do this to practise what you’re going to say when you meet up with a language exchange partner.
Don’t want to talk to yourself? Talk at a family member, friend or even a pet!
This is a bit different than actually conversing in your target language because you don’t have the pressure of needing to understand what’s being said to you and you don’t have to worry about mistakes because it’s likely the other person won’t understand you.
This method works for two reasons:
Even if someone doesn’t understand the language, they’ll likely still be able to tell where you’re hesitant
You’re “performing” in your target language (which slightly ups the pressure compared to talking to yourself), but you’ve taken out the stress of meeting someone new
What’s more, reading aloud is another useful technique in case you find yourself in a situaton where talking to a native isn’t an option.
You can do this with any resource — a book, a comic, an online article, the exercises in your textbook, it really doesn’t matter.
It’s all about training those mouth muscles and getting used to speaking your new language.
It’s one of my favorite things to do, but you have to be careful when you’re doing it. Sometimes, when reading aloud, you don’t actually take in what you’re reading.
Be sure that if you choose to do this, you aren’t just going through the motions. Pay attention to not just the words you’re reading, but what they’re telling you.