French Speaking Practice - How to Best Use Your Time With Language Partners?

Hi everyone! So I have been learning French for about 3 months now and have found that my speaking is relatively weak because I never really practiced it. Thus, I think it is about time that I start practicing the speaking. I know Steve always says that you’ll know when you want to start speaking and producing output! For me, I think now’s the time!

I just wanted to know how you guys typically use the time you speak to your language partners the best and most efficiently. I mean, I would imagine that simply talking about where you are from and what you like to do do, etc improves how you introduce yourself in the language, but, for example, we don’t always use conditional tense when we speak about other subjects. Do you guys typically have a plan set for what you want to talk about with the other person?

How do you hit all the essential tenses and sentence structures when you practice speaking? With a teacher, it’s pretty easy since they are basically there to help you improve whatever you need, but I feel like talking to another learner that is learning your native language might be a little different. Either way, I really want to get to conversationally comfortable level (B2?) in all languages that I learn, but granted French is the first language that I’m actually trying to be fluent in, I am pretty new to how this is done.

Would love some tips from the community! For example, how to actually improve in conversation by speaking to natives, how to hit essential speech and grammar constructions and tenses when practicing speaking without having the conversation be non-spontaneous, how often one should practice with a native speaker, what’s the best method to reflect and improve from previous conversations in subsequent conversations, what to actually talk about (I am not the best conversationalist in English even…), etc.

Thanks everyone! You are all so helpful! I love learning languages as I feel it makes me more aware of my surroundings and connects me with other people and cultures! I have a whole list of languages I want to learn, so basically, French is my “guinea pig” language to learn how to learn languages (I was taught Spanish in school the grammar way and thus am completely new to the natural assimilation that most polyglots swear by).

First learn to understand. The first step in conversations is listening not speaking.
I don’t know you, don’t know your skill maybe you are ready.

In my opinion people who want to speak before they understand are arrogant idiots.

Here I speak your language I don’t understand what I am saying but up to you to understand my words.

Sorry, no thank you.

Sure it is possible to speak a few words before you understand but that is no conversation.

If ready well get friends with whom you share interests. If you are of the lonely kind who has no friend - get some friends in your native language first.

In my opinion most people need to be teached to speak their native language because most people speak very badly.

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So true. Not commenting about the person in question but as u said, generally speaking, people who want to start speaking immediately are in my opinion also kind of arrogant. Also the school system which makes you speak in artificial situations from day one is so frustrating and doesn’t really help.

Studies have shown that only about 2% can learn a language the way they teach us in school, maybe even less than that No one even speaks the way they teach us in schools.

Steve has many times said to just go without any script or anything into your first conversation and only speak for 15 mins in the beginning. Hope you have fun!

Well, in my book those who call others “arrogant idiots” tend to be arrogant idiots themselves.

I really get freaked out when I hear such blanket comments about people and about methods of learning.
The funny thing is that I personally to postpone speaking and I’ve done precisely that with Russian which is the language I’m studying now and for which I’ve been using Lingq. So, I’m on the same “side” as you. However I recognize that there are other ways to learn and that YMMV. Some early conversation may be useful and motivating for some people and might be a necessity for others. As long as understanding’s not neglected, I can’t see how it could hurt. Of course the approach to conversation in the early stages must be different from that of more experienced learners. That is ps precisely the value of the OP’s contribution.
I’ve learned a few languages to some level of efficiency over the years and I’ve tried several methods and I’ve got my own ideas about what may work but of course I may be wrong about many points.
One thing I know for sure, though, name calling is neither the most helpful contribution nor a sign of expertise in this or other domains.

Just as an example, some people might think that writing in a foreign language before you have basic verb conjugation down pat would make you an “arrogant idiot”:
“Here I write in your language but I can’t be bothered to find out the correct word forms so it’s for you to mentally edit my sentences. Anyway I’ll let you know exactly how to learn a language.
Sorry, no thank you.”

Not me, though.

You are also completely right but don’t you think that some learning methods are better/more efficient than others. But then, on the other hand, maybe it’s not always about that, but more about what one likes to do.

I don’t think there’s one single best method for all learners and situations. There are some horrible ones, as you have mentioned but then you have to mix up and tailor a variety of ok methods to come up with a solution which is right for you.

Ok, so given that I am not a very big fan of the “speak from day 1” approach, quite honestly buddy, who are you to call them arrogant idiots? You aren’t so well above them that you can freely call them “arrogant idiots.” In my opinion, that kind of makes someone arrogant too by thinking they’re good enough and know enough to completely judge others without giving any thought as to the difference between our learning styles. People who speak from day 1 and are able to reach a degree of fluency in a language are not necessarily arrogant idiots, they’re just using a different method that works for them. Just because people don’t follow a method you like doesn’t make them arrogant idiots. In language learning, the goal is to be able to use it and communicate by getting your point across; fluency or at least comfortable communication; if they can do so by speaking from day 1 with a patient native who is willing to put up with it and gradually pick it up that way…more power to them. There are many polyglots out there who speak right away and reach a level of decent communication that they can use the language. With all due respect, get off your high horse. I wrote this post for a friendly discussion on language speaking practice strategies, not to have someone bash other methods because they themselves don’t agree. I respect your opinion, but you didn’t have to be so blunt.

Completely agree, as I already wrote.
About your original question: in a different thread I mentioned the “How to Improve Your Foreign Language Immediately” book, which contains some tips about how to improve the way you communicate in a foreign language. This is a link to a review:

Any other ideas? :slight_smile: