I would just like to know, how do you make the transition from input to output? There’s a lot of emphasis on input, but not a lot seems to be talked about by going from input to output.
The obvious answer would be to submit writing or sign up for a conversation with a tutor. Is there something more to the question: ie particular strategies for talking? If so, I would say, try to keep thoughts and sentences simple and short. And learn how to steer conversation to comfortable subjects.
So would it be easier, in Spanish for example (my strongest foreign language), that I begin writing lots, and when I can start doing that with ease, should I start practising talking? I suppose that would help a lot but I’m not sure.
James, when you want to start talking and writing you do so as Ed says.
I found that having a tutor at LingQ is very motivating, and reviewing the discussion reports really helped me notice my gaps. Ultimately to get really fluent you have to surround yourself with the language by going to the country or something, but I find that a little conversation and writing at LingQ and continued input really enables you to keep growing and getting better.
James, I would not be so structured. Sign up for a Spanish conversation and see how you do. Start with one on one and then move to groups if you want. You can write any time. Start with sentences and then go to longer pieces. You will find that both activities will help you notice the language when you listen and read.
In the conversations, do you have a chart in your language or is it a lesson? I don’t like lessons but prefer a relaxed, laid back approach. Also, can you still become fluent if you don’t go to the country? Would it be possible by speaking lots over the internet everyday?
sorry, not chart – it should be chat
The discussions are simply that, discussions. You talk about what you want, and the role of the tutor is to engage you in conversation. AT the end of the discussion you get a report with some of the words and phrases that you should work on, and some general comments, exclusively in the target language. You import this report as content.
Fluency is a vague term. I am quite comfortable stumbling in Russian, and do youtube videos in Russian. I just did the first video in the Seven Secrets to Successful Language Learning in Russian.
However, I am the low end of fluency. To become more fluent, I now need to speak more. I am signing up for more tutor discussions at LingQ, and that will improve my speaking skills. Yet, I know that even one month in Russia would really help me. However, I want to prepare myself before I go there. LingQ is great for that.
“So would it be easier … that I begin writing lots, and when I can start doing that with ease, should I start practising talking?”
I used to believe that writing a lot would help my speaking, but I find that, based on my experience, it is not necessarily the case. In fact, there are people who can speak well but cannot write well, and vice versa.
From research, writing does help to organize your thoughts though.
I find that it is more efficient to practise both speaking and writing.
I know some people (LingQers, natch) who are at almost native levels of English despite having never been to an English-speaking country. Yes it is possible.
A conversation with a tutor can be about anything you want, I have had people asking me to proof-read their dissertations, help them write e-mails to their bosses, practice for interviews, you name it. It’s your dollar.
As for writing practice, read my keystrokes: Twitter. Or start a blog. Or write a forum post. If only there were a multilingual forum somewhere where you would have a community of language learners, natives and teachers, all reading your posts. Of course, you won’t get structured feedback from these outpourings, but you get useful ridicule (sorry: advice) if what you have said makes little sense.
I’ve tried tweeting in Japanese. I was rambling about eating chocolate rats apparently
Ha! I did that in one of my writing exams. I said that my clothes are prairies. Needless to say, the person marking it didn’t understand.
@ Helen: just to put your mind at rest: I think it was google translate’s error rather than your Japanese that turned your chocoloate mice into rats!
@ James123: My initial reaction was: well, get a pencil out and/or open your mouth when you feel ready!
I do know, though, how daunting 'it can be to face your first speaking or writing ‘task’ and would suggest you follow the advice offered above by the other members.
(The LingQ Twibe, which Alex set up for us, might be a good place to start a first tweet practice - we are only 15 members and a tewwibly nice twibe. Although we do not normally cowwect each other, if asked nicely we might look at a sentence or two, depending which language you are learning. We could still do with a few more members, especially French and Italian - and all the other languages, too. You can get to know some really nice tutors at our twibal HQ http://www.twibes.com/group/lingq )
@ James123: There is a lot to be said of course for picking a tutor who understands your native tongue, because until you get to intermediate 2 you will probably need to drop into your native language frequently to say things you don’t have the vocabulary for.