Practice conversation skills by yourself


Does anyone have any thoughts of the value of practicing your conversations skills by talking to yourself and if this has been backed up by any research or other language practitioners.

I often read and listen to material on LingQ in sentence view. I have just started repeating the sentences out loud but then changing it a few times. For example changing the tense, the object of the sentence etc. A Youtuber called Robin McPherson mentions this technique.

I wondered if anyone does this and if you think it is a good learning exercise or not a good use of time.



I do it all the time. Well…that an exaggeration. I should do it all the time. However, I definitely do. I’m not doing what you’re specifying.

I will talk to myself. Like I’ll say what I’m doing, what I did yesterday, or whatever, as if I was telling someone about it. Or if I say something in my native language, I may wonder…how would I try to say that in my target language? and then I would try to say it in some way (as best I can with the words I know). Then I may look it up, if I don’t feel satisfied with what I produced.

Another thing I’ve been doing recently is going through the mini stories, or other content in my native language. Going sentence by sentence and trying say it in my target language. It doesn’t have to be exact, but wanting to try and convey it as best I can. Again, if I’m not satisfied I’ll look it up after the fact.

I don’t know if there is research at all, but you are getting practice outputting, so it has to be beneficial. You are helping to get comfortable thinking in this “direction” and working on your universe of words that you can output. You’re developing these patterns that you will use over and over again.


Science there is:

Going covert: Inner and private speech in language learning

Good practice it is no doubt.

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At one point we discussed this guy:
Especially his videos on learning French. The method is a bit ‘hardcore’ but there are good ideas in there, for example how he gets immediate feedback from recording himself.

Another thing is that you don’t even have to speak out loud to practice output, honestly just thinking in your target language is incredibly powerful. Switching your inner monologue to your target language gives you a lot of practice forming sentences and retrieving vocabulary, without the fear of judgements or paying tutors etc. It also tends to reveal deficiencies.

The methods of transforming existing sentences’ tenses / gender etc and of translating into the target language are effective but can be a bit boring in my opinion. This used to be integral part of the old-school way (roughly up to the the 70s) of language learning, called “grammar-translation method.”


I’m not sure about this. You need to train your mouth muscles as well, depending on the language. You might find yourself that mentally you are doing good but physically, the output is quite crap. Muscle training is essential for fluency and speed.


I think it is a good practice to train your muscle memory and pronunciation, amongst other things. But conversation with other native people is unpredictable, so I don’t really know how to develop that spontaneity only by yourself at home.
I’m sure other people that were very willing to train that peculiarity have found methods to repeat a ton of variations of the same questions/answers to train that too.
I didn’t learn that conversation fluidity by training by myself so I can’t really say. I don’t think it’s so easy. You will be faster to train pronunciation, articulation, stretching words, learning vocabulary by yourself and then doing the last step talking to people.


I don’t disagree on the muscles. But I didn’t mean to say that this is an either or situation between thinking and speaking.
I would rather say that you need to be able to think (i.e. form sentences and ideas in your head) in the target language before you can even start speaking.
Also you can basically always think, but not always speak, for example when it would disturb others.


I don’t even go there, it would open a big metaphysical/neurological/philosophical/psychological discussion on actions-thoughts-impulses-automatisms-subconscious… :smile:

I agree that doing one thing doesn’t disregard the other. However, I thought the target on the initial topic was conversation skills and with that, it came to my mind the “final” output. Which means being able to handle a back and forward conversation with one or more native speakers, at their level, with fluency. I wasn’t considering all the work to do before that stage.

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Hi Eric,

I’m glad someone else has found outputting by themselves valuable. I hadn’t thought of translating thoughts in my native language to Italian. I will definitely try this. In fact, I just started doing it with your answer!

I must admit output practice comes after the “third sweep” of my text. First is viewing in page view to LingQ unknown words, second is listening in sentence view to train my ear, third is outputting.

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Hi Anxxos,

Thanks for the link. Really interesting.

Thanks for the tips.

Yes - I have changed my learning methods a few times to make sure it is always fun and interesting. I started out with an old-school text book. That’s now collecting dust in a drawer somewhere!

Hi Davide,

Yes - I can appreciate that conversation with a native speaker allows you to get exposed to the unpredictable and irregular patterns of speech.

I like to think of inner / private speech as an add-on rather than a replacement. I tend to find that when talking to someone I have to think so quickly that I resort to more basic language and structures but by manipulating text I tend to practice on more advanced language. I am also changing my study material from Youtube videos of Italian teachers using simplified language to street interviews with native speakers to drill into more natural and “messy” speech.

Yes - I also prefer to talk out loud to train the mouth muscles and make sure the sound is coming from the right place in the mouth to produce a nice standard Italian.


Practicing conversation skills by talking to oneself has been shown to be quite beneficial in several studies. For instance, a study titled “Autonomous EFL Learners’ Ways of Practicing Speaking Skills During Pandemic of COVID 19” found that some learners chose to talk to themselves as a way to practice English speaking skills. Another research paper, “L2 speaking self-ability perceptions through multiple video speech drafts”, highlighted the role of self-evaluation in improving speaking abilities.

In addition to these, the book “The art of talking to yourself: Self-awareness meets the inner conversation” discusses the importance of self-conversation in enhancing self-awareness and joy. Therefore, it seems that your practice of repeating sentences out loud and modifying them can be a valuable learning exercise. It allows you to familiarize yourself with different sentence structures and broadens your understanding of language use.


Thanks for the info on studies and the book…fascinating. One more book to add to my “must read” list.

I also like what you said about ‘broadens your understanding of language use’. I find that is one of the main benefits for me as well. First I imagine the thing I want to say, and then in the attempt to translate I realize a literal translation is not correct. Then figure out what I really mean to say and how to say that. I much prefer to do that alone, whether in my head or spoken, than with another person. Great prep for real life conversations.