Hello. Im from France. The speaking barrier is the nightmare of all language learners. I read, understand, do I handle the writing of simple texts, but how do I start to speak English?
Learning English at school is usually only the seed of language skills. I never had any problems with English and I didn’t have much to say that I would learn English almost everywhere. This impudence quickly ended at the first foreign trip.
When it came to me to speak in English, a blockade joined me. I knew perfectly well what I should say, in my imaginary conversations this always came out perfectly, and I couldn’t get anything but a total blckade. Stress? Too much focus on grammatical correctness? Probably one and the other. Any kind of question directed towards me, usually ended with a frenzy looking for companions, with a shouting face: “Help!”. This completely ruined my own self-confidence built over school years.
Soon I realized that I usually avoid all articles, films and books in English. Even when I tried to read or watch movies.
Youtube and movies
I started with fairy tales – they usually have a very clear and easy to understand narrative. Initially I chose those with English subtitles, after few months without subtitles and then I switched to videos of foreign vloggers with good diction. I wanted to learn the correct pronunciation of words. At the moment I convince myself to watch English versions of popular TV series and TED presentations without subtitles.
Speak only in English
Since then, I have been able to: develop some habits, get to know many of the “supporters” in this fight, and understood that learning English at home requires all systematic and self-denial.
The priority for me was to improve the ability to speak English. So we decided to organise from time to time, during which we talk exclusively in English. Usually at weekends, because my friends are at home and there are plenty of opportunities to talk.
It was difficult to break through and from thoughts “Which words shouw I use?”, not to mention any fluency of speech. Our beginnings were mainly based on the speaking of individual words. Our rules were created after few meetings:
- We dont think too much about grammar
- We speak only English (apart from crisis situations)
- We dont judge other people
- We help each other
You will be surprised how quickly you can improve your ability to speak and see the secondary role of all these grammatical issues. I like this method because it is a good cure for bad humor – linguistic battles in the company of a loved ones can be quite funny.
Games and online courses
At the moment you can find a lot of such things on the web. Here are some of my favorite ones:
Lyrics Training – Lyrics while listening to songs. Great option to train your hearing understanding.
Duolingo – The next stages are completed by performing tasks which consist: choosing the right answer, translating sentences from English into French and vice versa, and also repeating sentences in English.
Orororo.tv – Films with English subtitles.
Elllo – A large collection of audio. They sound a bit like the school textbooks, but still useful.
Memrise – A collection of courses in different languages.
engVid – We have several teachers to choose from. Very useful tips for learning a language.
Ba Ba Ba Ba Dum – a superbly designed game that allows you to easily learn vocabulary (including pronunciation).
Diki Podcasts – A collection of podcasts at different levels.
All this sounds very perfect, but don’t let yourself be misled into thinking that I am doing it all the day. I am still lack in regularity and my English is still not at a level that I would be proud of but when I think what it looked like in the past, I think I have made a great progress.