One of the most frustrating aspects of mastering a foreign language is the difficulty of maintaining and improving your speaking skills. Teachers will tell you that the only way to improve is to simply speak more, but their suggestions on how to do so are not practical in the long run.
These suggestions often include:
- Find a speaking partner or tutor
- Speak the foreign language in your head
- Live abroad
While all of those things can help, they are not a concrete method that you can use every day, and finding a teacher or partner to speak with or living abroad is simply not a realistic method for most students and professionals who are looking to save money and time.
The method that I believe to be the most effective at filling this void, short of living abroad of course, is writing. Writing, like speaking, is an active method of language learning whereas reading and listening develop your abilities to consume and understand the language.
When we write a foreign language, we use many of the same mechanisms to construct sentences, such as quickly thinking of the words we need and using them in their correct forms and tenses.
Like all forms of language learning, discipline and organization are paramount. Below is a practice formula that utilizes Foreigncy’s daily language sets. Do your best to practice this method daily or once a week, and I promise with consistent application you will see a dramatic improvement in your speaking ability.
Choose your preferred language set, master the flashcards, and read the article.
Click the Download Vocab List button, which produces a PDF vocabulary list of all the essential vocabulary from the article.
Set a timer for 20 minutes, grab a pen, and open to a blank page on any $3 notebook you can buy at your local grocery store. On the side of the page, draw out a box large enough where you can write all of the essential vocabulary from the PDF vocabulary list, this will be your word bank.
Start your timer and write a detailed summary of the article. As you write your summary, you must use every word from your word bank and check it off afterwards. Depending on the complexity of the article, you may be done before your timer is up. I suggest you use this time to free write. Expand upon the article and your summary to express your own opinion. This is your chance to reinforce your knowledge of the words you just learned and pull from previous language sets.
Before you know it, the timer will go off and you just took a dramatic step to improve your foreign language speaking skills without leaving your home, spending $50 on a tutor, or speaking the foreign language in your head, which lets face it, can only last a few minutes.
Ready to choose a language set and get started?