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How to get conversation practice

The best way to practice speaking is to find a native speaker and start a language exchange, an activity in which you each spend time practicing in each other’s language. 

You can do this by organizing with people in your real life if you have any. If you are like the majority of us and do not have willing native speakers nearby, the best option is to do an online exchange using Skype or any other internet calling service. 

You can find people very easily by using a community dedicated to language exchanges. The largest and most popular communities are iTalki and HelloTalk.

There are other methods of getting practice. If you live in a big enough city, there are often meetups for language enthusiasts or more generic meetups that are often attended by expatriates and travelers. 

You might get lucky and find a native speaker there who is willing to let you practice if you ask them. 

The country associated with your language may have a community of speakers in your city. You can also pay for a tutor to get conversation practice, either online or in real life if available.

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Beating nerves

Starting to speak can be daunting, particularly at first. If you are feeling nervous or anxious about starting to speak, understand that most people will be very kind and accommodating. 

A good partner will understand your level and speak at an appropriate level for you. In return, any help they give using your language will be good practice for them. 

Make sure you are clear about your level and your initial difficulty will not be a problem. If you have the money, hiring a tutor can be a good way to ease yourself into it without the pressure to perform for someone else. 

The initial hurdle of starting to speak is the largest, especially in your first foreign language, but there is no way around it. After that, speaking becomes increasingly easier, even when first speaking any future languages you may learn.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Don’t shy away from trying things because you are afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes are a natural part of the process of learning and will not necessarily hinder your progress. 

Conversely, trying to use the language absolutely correctly every time can slow your progress by reducing the amount of practice you get.

Most mistakes simply fix themselves over time without correction. As long as you are getting lots of input and basing your language production off that, you will probably be fine. 

Listen closely next time you are near a young child. They make mistakes all the time, yet all will learn to a native level given enough time.

Get feedback on your language ability

A good way to catch errors is to find ways to get feedback on any mistakes you are making. While your language should get better with time on its own, it can be helpful to catch some mistakes you are repeatedly producing so that they don’t become a permanent feature of your speech or writing. 

Try asking for feedback from your tutor or language partner. You can also try your hand at writing and sending small texts to natives to be corrected.

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