Do you have any experience with talking to yourself (inner voice)? I mean rather in an intensive way, for example an hour or two per day. If so, did it turn out to be effective?
I am just experimenting with this now. Nothing will beat real conversations with native speakers, however not everybody has opportunities to speak several hours daily. I have also another question which may be stupid, but could it lead to some mental problems if misused? :slight_smile:

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The second question is the subject of a number of psychological horror films, do not use a ventriloquists dummy!!! :wink:

I talk to myself all the time but not silently… Isn’t it better to speak aloud?

As a study method I think it’s limited because I either don’t force myself to say things I’m not sure how to say correctly, or else try to say such things but can’t easily get confirmation on whether my sentence was correct or not.

Here’s something I was playing with: Read one page on LingQ, then copy that text into Google Translate and convert it to your native language. Try to translate back to the original language, freely looking back to the left as you need. Maybe do it a few times until you don’t need much help anymore. Then move on…

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I find it very useful - it’s how I spend my drives home, and my “toothbrush time.” The benefits are that you are forcing you to find an equivalent word in your second language all the words for your daily life experiences. Any words you don’t know, it’ll make you curious and you’ll learn them later.

You won’t be 100% grammatically correct when you talk to yourself, but you’ll be pushing yourself further. It’s like journaling - not your best grammar efforts, but worth the work, because as you speak you’ll say the fast version, then you’ll go back and correct it, “Wait, shouldn’t I use this tense?” or “Don’t I really mean this?”. Those corrections will become easier over time.
So you’ll practice grammar too, but the amazing benefit comes from the fact that you’re building your ability to think, yes, think, in your second language. Every vocab word of your daily life is now accessible to your brain in that language - from dry ice to shopping cart to remote control. Your most daily common thoughts - you’ve turned them into that second language.

Also fun, while we’re on this topic, is taking posters at work, native street signs, informational texts, and trying to “translate” them into your second language. Can you at least give an equivalent word for each vocabulary idea on the sign? I’ve been stuck places, and translated whole signs mentally, the vocab being the focus of this activity, but the grammar sneaks in there.

Also, when I was stuck without my Spanish music one day, I listened to the radio and started “translating” the English songs. Just matching, not a professional translation: can I give the Spanish equivalent for each of the words spoken? I made a list of the words I found interesting and couldn’t translate, that I’d would want more study on. For instance, Vance Joy’s song “Riptide” might be “shelf”, “lump in my throat”, and “unstuck.” I found this to be another good mental thinking-in-my-head activity.

But yeah, with talking to myself, usually I’m shouting about other drivers and complaining about my day in Spanish for the twenty-minute drive home. And at home, if my spouse asks me a question while I’m deep in thought, I may start answering it in Spanish, and then quickly switch it back to English. Happens at work sometimes too, but there at least, most people weren’t paying enough attention to notice I said some Spanish words to them before answering their question in English. It’s not a good thing (those are the moments when talking-to-yourself goes awry), but overall it is very effective for improving study time. You didn’t only begin to talk your first language when you got the grammar perfect, there’s no reason not to start babbling away in your second language while you’re still working out the kinks. [It’ll even give you reasons to work out the kinks faster, so you can finish your conversations with yourself…]

  • To address Miznia’s point, I mostly talk aloud, except when that’s inappropriate. My drive home is also great tongue-training, pronunciation practice, as I talk to myself saying words I can’t-yet pronounce, trying to stick the landing on them. Or I’ll listen to podcasts and parrot what they say, for pronunciation. But if I’m in a place I can’t talk aloud, I’ll think my thoughts (translating signs on the wall mentally worked so great when I had to be standing in a boring room 20 minutes a day).

IMO that’s like record yourself on a camera, you’re basically talking alone and, in this case, we know some people still sane - like Steve; others get crazy, but over all the crazy one’s were already crazy.

If I have time to talk to myself I woundn’t do, I would rather write because is a way, in my opinion, more useful to practice the language, when I speak I want to talk to someone, especially a native. If I have to output other than speaking to a native I’d rather spend my time writing because I can look at the words I do not remember and see my gaps in writing and grammar more easily, especially if I have someone to correct.

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It might not be strictly talking to yourself. But I would say most people (except maybe people who have practiced meditation for several years) are having a running monologue inside their heads. I’m basically paraphrasing Sam Harris, if anyone is interested I’ll leave a link below. Just try to see how long you can sit still and not have a thought arise. How many seconds did you make it?

If you can become so immersed in your target language that these thoughts arise in that language that can be powerful in my opinion. I agree with tracee555, although I never did it deliberately. This happened when I learned my second language. I had basically no actual speaking practice before I reached what I guess would be called conversational fluency.

- YouTube - around min 25 and 45, might be more - haven’t seen the interview for a while.

I was thinking more about talking silently which would allow me to apply it virtually everywhere, at work or in a bus. Talking aloud or writing requires a sort of intimacy.

I also think it is better to talk aloud. But if you wanted to do this very intensively, for several hours a day, it would be difficult with all those people around. Thanks for the tip, I’ll try it.

Thinking to yourself in your foreign language is a perfectly great way to study the material. What else will you do on the bus, or when you’ve got free-time at work, and all that surrounds you are posters?

Start doing your daydreaming in another language. Describe your day to yourself, then learn you what you know and don’t know yet as you hit dead-ends in your 2nd language thinking.

Thank you so much for sharing your habits. The fact that you mistakenly respond to people in Spanish is the best proof for me that it really works!

Yeah I definitely think aloud in my better languages such as French and Spanish + talk to my dogs in them. When I begin a new language I often do it just to practice speaking asking this like “Where are my shoes, what should I eat, etc.” in the language.

Even when you’re out and about, you could just say what you see aloud while walking/driving/commuting such as “Veo un sem
áforo, Veo un carro, Veo un gato caminando” or something along those lines.

I think it helps with being able to later on “think” rather than “speak” aloud in the language.

I think doing it aloud even in public helps get over the fear of people thinking you are mispronouncing things because you’ll have so many people looking at you weird just for speaking a different language.

Because I often do the “shadowing” technique while learning, I often catch myself repeating those dialogues I’ve shadowed in my head or aloud.


“Even when you’re out and about,”

Thank you, @zhk2011, for your using of “out and about” - a new expression for me!

It’s a nice expression and it’s also the most classic way to tell if a speaker is Canadian, because they use it often but pronounce it more like ‘oat and aboat’.


I live in the South of the US and we say it quite often here. I wouldn’t generalize it as more of “Canadian” or not. But nice to hear that you’ve noticed Canadians use it often, never recognized that.

I think they were referring to the vowel sounds. Minnesotans, Canadians, and half of HGTV (because of the Canadian home improvement film industry, best place to hear maple leaf accents) say: “Ewt and a boot”.

Whereas we in most of the United States say: “Owwt and a bowt”

The phrase “out and about”, itself, is pretty common in any English-speaking country.

They were saying that it’s a way to spot an accent, like “I parked my car at Harvard Yard” for Boston.

The word ‘About’ is the most Canadian word I can think of… usually I wouldn’t notice someone’s Canadian until that word drops in. “A boot.”

Agree except, as a Minnesotan, this is also how we identify Canadians.

Perhaps. But living in the South, we typically spot Canadians by the use of “eh” at the end of phrases, or the way they pronounce “against” or “been”. Thanks for the response!