Speaking Your Target Language
Hello, there, everyone!
Recently, I was presented with the opportunity to talk to someone whose first language was the language I was learning. They said the bare minimum basics to me, of course, but I was able to understand them and reply. After that, I was in a bit of a panic because I could have made a mistake, but in the end, it ended up all right because they sent me back a nice, "You did a very good job!" The conversation would have continued if it hadn't been on my fiancé's phone. Despite that, I think it has made me discover that I'm not quite ready to completely dive in with speaking. At least, until I get the anxiety controlled!
As for you guys, have you had an experience speaking with people in your target language? If not, how do you plan to do so in the future? I'm interested in those stories!
Last summer I began working at an English school whose largest ethnic group was Brazilians. I quickly finished my long neglected Portuguese tree (I was 10 skills from finished) and then did the reverse tree by testing out of each skill individually.
I spoke more Portuguese in the first three weeks than I did in the previous three years. The students were very encouraging and very much appreciated that I was willing to meet them halfway. It was a big boost to my confidence.
My experiences speaking Spanish have been mixed. I've had people open up to me warmly and others pretend to not understand me while chuckling under their breath.
No matter how well or badly a conversation goes, I keep in mind that I'm wiser having experienced it.
This is probably the funniest time I've used a language:
When we were in Turkey we went to a water park and just one of the staff members started talking to my sister in German by saying "Wie heisst du?" (What's your name?). So my sister just looked really confused and then i just said "Sie heisst..." (She's called...) and then the staff member was amazed and we started to have a conversation in German about how I can speak German.
I've been able to talk to a Dominican girl in Spanish (although she spoke really fast!) and once at my job I took an order speaking to a person over the phone in Spanglish (we spoke mostly in Spanish and I was clearly at a disadvantage because I didn't know a few words but she knew the menu in English so it wasn't hard to take down the order). Once you get your anxiety in control you'll find many people are very nice and willing to help you and you can help them if you need to.
Years ago as an American soldier in Germany I would look at a book called Illustriertes Wörterbuch and study the words on a certain topic for example there would be a two page spread on municipal swimming pool. It would have words like towel, diving board, and very many more. Then I would be off to my destination for that time, the Hallenbad. It resulted in almost scripting some of my sentences. At the same time I would try to be as likable as possible to make it fun for the person talking with me. The native speaker would sense my level of fluency and make it easy for me. It was great fun.The same book was available in many languages. regards, Ken
I had some situations where i had to speak Spanish when i did not expect it unfortunately i can't talk about the details here because it involves certain things that i'm not allowed to talk about on a family friendly website like this unfortunately my Spanish was still really bad at that time but it still helped me out a lot.
I'm somewhere between B2/C1 with Russian and yes it's a nightmare getting over those initial jitters trying to speak with someone.
On the plus side (and from what I've heard from those studying other languages this is indeed a HUGE plus) Russians are OVERWHELMINGLY thankful that you can speak even a LITTLE Russian, because so few of them speak English. Thus, they are all overjoyed to struggle through a conversation with you and even if you ask them to switch to English they are so deathly afraid of looking stupid they will insist on Russian, so conversation partners are very easy to find
I went to a website called VK (Russian Facebook essentially) and found a group for video game lovers, said, "Hey I'm an American and I'm studying Russian. If you love videogames and are interested in a language exchange then let's talk!". I got a TON of messages and made a bunch of new friends.
the first conversations were a nightmare. I barely understood anything and I was absolutely terrified but the key is just forcing yourself to constantly communicate. I've only been studying for a year and a half, but thanks to CONSTANT communication (I skype with people every night) I can talk on any topic, watch films, read books, etc.
When you feel anxious just remember that anyone who has ever studied a language has been there. We all know that terror and unless the person is a humongous jerk they won't make fun of you
I consider that speaking is very important to learn the language and to improve the language skill. But it's also the hardest thing to do !
I've learnt Polish for 3 months now and I try to speak with a native. My god, that's hard ! Listening and speaking was very very very hard.
But I won't give up. Even if I'm not able to have a conversation with a native, I can read some sentences and the native can correct me.
Another way is to tell the sentences alone.