Speaking in any language is considered the most important skill because it allows an effective communication.
Language is necessary to understand others and communicate your thoughts and feelings. It is nonetheless different when learning a new tongue. Most of the time, even after years of study, language learners find it difficult to speak when facing day to day situations. Thus, the requirement to help them improve their ability in speaking and performing adequately in real-life conditions, grabbing the attention of the person in front for more than a few minutes.
To develop your speaking skills, four elements should be taken into consideration:
It is important to build an adequate vocabulary pool. When you develop your vocabulary, you can understand the meanings of words as well as getting familiar with their pronunciation. It allows you to understand what the other person is saying as well as giving you the mean to answer back and express your viewpoint.
Write down what you hear.
Here are some simple ways you can grow your vocabulary.
Learn through reading.
Read everything you can get hold on: newspapers, newsletters, books, blogs, scientific and technical reports, emails, online and off-line information you may encounter. Read a lot. Most of the time, it will be easy to guess the meaning of these words in context. Pay attention to the words and phrases you don’t know, or which use is interesting, or funny, or relevant to you. Write them down in your vocabulary notebook.
To have a better chance of understanding what you are reading, follow these suggestions:
First read the text quickly to find out what information it contains so that you can have a general idea of what it is about.
You can then re-read the text and try to find out specific information you want to retrieve.
Don’t stop and look at a dictionary for the meaning of every word you don’t know. Carry on reading.
Learn “link words” also called cohesion markers and these are: also, therefore, except, unless, however, furthermore etc. They connect different parts of the writing and they give structure to the ideas expressed in the piece.
Choose texts which are not too difficult, where only 6-10 new words per page are unknown to you.
Write down what you hear.
Watch movies, talk shows, news rounds, and keep an investigative ear to novel expressions you hear, or different ways a word or group of words are used. This is a very practical way to learn. These should be registered as well in your vocabulary notebook. Watch Movies in your target language with no sub-titles in your mother tongue or only with the subtitles in the foreign language. This will help you pick up quickly the new words that are unknown to you. Listen to podcasts. Find topics that match your hobbies and do this activity regularly. There are lots of interesting YouTube videos for various languages that you can watch as well.
Grammar is also important in spoken language because it helps you clearly convey your thoughts without ambiguity.
So, how should you incorporate grammar in your language study?
When starting a new language give yourself time to get familiar to the language pattern. Observe, read, and listen until you understand. This might mean to repeat the lesson until it’s clear to you. Remember that repetition is key in language learning, it allows you to commit this information to your long-term memory. Don’t feel frustrated, if you see that you are moving forward slowly.
When listening and reading, pay attention to the word order. You will start noticing how every sentence is structured, the common place for nouns, adjectives, verbs, and articles. By doing so, you are already studying, in a natural way, the basic grammar for that language.
Buy a dictionary and a conjugation book. E-books might be a good option, because you would have them at your fingertips any time you need them.
Download a mobile translation app so that you can investigate the meaning of words and expressions. As a result, you will be able to use the correct phrases when needed. Google Translate is a good option.
Pronouncing words correctly is paramount for communication
Knowing how to correctly pronounce a word is paramount for enhancing your speaking skills.
It is necessary to familiarise yourself with the small units of sound of the foreign language (phonemes), which are often different from your mother tongue, making it confusing at times to establish the relationship with its written counterpart (grapheme).
Fluency is the ability to hear words and understand them on the spot. This will develop with practice.
I will mention some useful techniques that you can use to practice speaking in your target language.
It is the best way to practice speaking. You can always find somebody speaking the language you are studying. There are websites specialising in language exchange where you can practice your target language with native speakers interested in perfecting your language. You can take turn practising each way. One of these sites is Italki
If you go to the country where the language you're learning is spoken, take advantage and practice.
The most common excuse is this one:” When I speak with the locals, they insist on speaking my mother tongue.” If this is the case, you can explain to them that you need to practice their language, and if they persist, let them speak your language in a conversation, and just answer them back in their tongue. They will very soon understand and back you up in your language practice.
The other common reason for not practising your foreign language is shyness. Remember that nothing great happens when you stay in your comfort zone. Step out of it. Start speaking with that stranger sitting next to you in the park. You will quickly see that the world didn’t end, and most of all, you did enjoy the conversation. When you grab the opportunities to practice, the world becomes your tutor.
If you are working with a language partner, a tutor, or a coach, you can use role play to speak the language. It’s a perfect way of mimicking real-life situations and this will force you to practice. You might become a customer at a restaurant ordering food, or someone making a hotel reservation, or asking for directions, the possibilities are endless.
Talk to Yourself
Talking to yourself
Tell yourself what your plans are, what you intend to do, where you’re going to, who you are meeting, or what you're buying. It allows you to exercise your diaphragm and facial muscles so that you can produce the correct sounds in the target language. It helps you identify where your weaknesses are, your lack of adequate vocabulary, or the use of the wrong grammar structures. It gets your brain used to thinking and instinctively producing sentences in your second language.
Reading aloud is a good way to exercise your diaphragm and your mouth muscles as well as getting used to produce sentences in your target language. On the other hand, you are improving your reading skills at the same time. When you read aloud you improve your brain’s ability to connect the language’s sound(grapheme) to the language’s letters (phonemes). Therefore, your reading improves.
Listening to music
Another useful technique is to listen to music. Music is one of the best tools to learn intonation and pronunciation through singing and mimicking the singer. You get to deal with the language in a more natural way while learning new idioms and expressions effortlessly. Movies work in the same way also.
To conclude, speaking skills are one of the most important skills when learning a language because it allows you to express your thoughts and feelings to others as well as permitting negotiation with a third party. Many learners attribute their success or failure by their capacity to communicate freely in the foreign language. Even though challenging, I want you to bear in mind that it is a skill that can be learned with constant practice. You are already well on your way, do not give up.