Every dog owner out there will admit that they talk to their dog(s), even though they know that there is absolutely no chance that they will ever get a response. We’re not crazy! Dogs make great companions, are great listeners and luckily are incapable of being judgmental.
Perhaps you have guessed what’s coming, but what I am proposing is that you start talking to your dog in the language you are learning. Just because you don’t have another person at hand to practice speaking to, there is no excuse for not practicing your speaking skills.
I am an advocate of speaking the language at every single opportunity and right from the start of your language learning journey. Practicing speaking is the absolute best way of creating those memory pathways in your brain that help you retain information for a long time and be able to recall it quickly at any time (fluency). Before long, you won’t have to stop to think of grammar rules and you will stop fumbling for at least the most common vocabulary.
For a little fun, I even took this further recently by training my dog to sit and beg in Spanish. My dad watching on from the sidelines proclaimed that he, “had never felt more inadequate” because “the dog understood more Spanish than he did”.
But what if I don’t have a dog Oli?
Of course this obviously extends to your other types of pets, I am just decidedly a dog person!
And if you don’t have an animal of any description, I’m still not letting you off the hook. You will always have yourself to talk to.
7 Methods of practicing your speaking skills in your target language without a companion
1. Start thinking in the language. You can do this at any time and in any place. Slow day at work? Sitting on the lavatory (excuse my British)? Mind racing while you’re trying to get off to sleep? They’re just opportunities to practice with your inner monologue.
2. Give yourself a pep-talk in the mirror. Facing obstacles in your life? Nervous about something? Proud of something? Tell yourself something positive in the mirror in your target language.
3. Grab a hairbrush and pretend your’e giving a speech to a room full of native speakers. You’ve just won the Argentinian version of the Oscars, you’ve got 2 minutes to fill with your acceptance speech.. in Spanish. GO!
4. Have pretend conversations, where you take both sides. Envision yourself buying something in a shop for example. Just make sure nobody is within ear-shot, as people might think you’re nuts. I like to do this in the shower.
5. Write down a list of questions on a piece of paper and then answer them. These could be questions about yourself, or something you learned in class or at work. The main thing is that you answer them in as much details as you possibly can.
6. Make a Youtube video. Vlog about anything that interests you. Perhaps you could emulate your favorite Youtuber whilst speaking another language or just show your family and friends what you’ve learned recently. To help you improve your writing you could start blogging, writing on forums or social networking, but the problem with writing is that without time-constraint and urgency, it’s not going to improve your fluency so much.
7. Open a book in your own language and start verbally translating it on-the-fly. Ok, so it’s not your own ideas, but it is still forcing you to use grammar and vocabulary on the spot, it will all help to turn you into that smooth-talking language-adept machine!
It doesn’t matter if you find it difficult at first, it’s the same for everyone. With time and effort, the grammar and vocab will start flowing out of your mouth naturally just as it does with your native language.
If you have any thoughts on this or anything to add then let me know in the comments section below!
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