Speak Speak SPEAK, all the way to fluency! (The Language Learning Paradox)

I have invested a lot of time in effort in the Spanish Language. Over 1,000,000 words of reading. 500 hours of listening, somewhere around 30,000 words of writing. And countless other activities involving Spanish practice. At this point I feel that I have a advance level in Spanish. I can understand consistently over 90% of the information that I hear. I can Read practically anything and write as well. I have achieved a proficient level in Spanish but yet I still lack in one big area, “SPEAKING”…
{{{{I guess I thought in the past, if I did enough input activities then I would some how magically obtain a fluent ability to speak. I have been sadly mistaken. Don’t get me wrong, I have about 70 hours worth of speaking in Spanish. I can express myself in practically every situation. Some subjects are very easy for me to talk on but when I speak in general I am not so comfortable. I have probably a high intermediate - low advance level of speaking ability. But I can’t talk so quickly and I still find myself trying to make conjugations in my head. Maybe I am being too hard on myself because most natives say I speak very well. But I expect more!! After so much time and effort spent within this language reading and listening I felt as If I reached the mountain top and from this point forward I would be this great speaker of Spanish. But it’s frustrating because now that I reached the top of one mountain in the area of listening and reading, I can see there is another large treacherous mountain to climb with speaking practice!
{{{{{{{{When your learning a foreign language and you need speaking practice, but you don’t live in a country that speaks the language your learning, it makes everything a little more difficult. I live in America and my daily routine, I could go for the rest of my life without NEEDing to speak Spanish. Although there are many native Spanish speakers in America, My life doesn’t force me to need to speak Spanish. So when I do, its very deliberate activities I have to do to speak which take time. With listening you can put your headphones in while you do other task. With reading you can read without needing assistance from anyone else. But with speaking, for the most part, you need partners to speak with and that is a little more stressful to obtain. Gaining speaking fluency would be a lot more easier living in a spanish speaking country, that way my daily routine would force me to speak. Living in America I have to find ways to make speaking everyday a consistent part of my life which is difficult…
Finally, i have realized, in order to gain speaking fluency i have to exert the same amount of effort that i used when bettering my Reading and Listening skills. This mean i have to speak every single day. I have to increase my hours of speaking. I’m not sure how many hours that will be, but i know i began to feel like i had a comfortable advance level in Spanish when my words of reading hit 1,000,000 words and 400 hours of listening. So im guessing my speaking hours need to get around 400 hours or so until i feel like i have a high level speaking fluency. Because im not living in a spanish speaking country this will be yet another tough task and long journey but its part of the process. ----- So remember, that eventually Speaking, most be given the same amount of time spent as listening and reading in order to gain Speaking Fluency…
{{Questions and Comments are Welcomed

Do you live in a place in the U.S. where you could enroll in a class taught completely in Spanish? I am taking an art class (drawing and painting) in Czech, trying to comprehend instructions in Czech and talk with my fellow students. It’s very enjoyable. I would not take chemistry or history in Czech but this I can manage. At your level of comprehension, you might also make friends with others in the class and pursue opportunities for other conversations. Or they could give you tips on where to go to dance and socialize, etc.

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Kitty’s is a great suggestion! Here is one for when you really can’t find anyone. Read yourself a story out loud: give it the full works, intonation, voices, ask yourself questions about the story - all on top of your voice(s) and (or not) in front of a mirror :slight_smile:

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Forgive my asking, but what part of the US are you living in? I live in the south west where many people speak spanish and it isn’t out of the ordinary to strike up a conversation is spanish. I agree with kitty, try and find a class to enroll in (there are many free classes out there, especially for spanish). Don’t worry too much about calculating hours of speaking practice, as this will add even more pressure. Don’t feel forced into speaking, either. Just try it out with people around town and I’m sure you will find many people

Anthony lauders new youtube video talks abort this.

I guess, it’s the right link

“about this” I think you made a slight mistake, when you were typing.

I have studied Spanish for along while, but not to your successful level. As you state, I see that you have attained a high level of fluency (i.e.) Listening, Reading & Writing Comprehension, and you have reached the point where you feel comfortable expressing any thought or idea that you have in Spanish. So as stated often in this forum and elsewhere its just practice. I don’t think chatting on Skype is the answer as from reading on language learning sites English Speakers get slowed down teaching English & conversations become one-sided in English, while chatting on Skype. I would suggest a site like Easy Skype, its relatively inexpensive per hour, and teachers are from Peru with a relatively neutral accent. I think its better than group conversations, but if you prefer groups something like Black Belt Spanish may be helpful.

I think you are right about the effort to put in. This year, I have had lessons in Russian every single day on Skype. No surprise: it has made my Russian better!


Very encouraging video. Thank you for letting us know about it.

I’ve always wondered how I could practice my speaking if I couldn’t find someone to talk to.

My thought process was to practice reading my words out loud in hopes to get familiar with the sounds and the speaking. It definitely exercises different muscles!

I don’t know if that’s a healthy substitute because you don’t have someone to judge your feedback.

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Mate, try an app called “Hellotalk”.

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Tack för upplysningen!

Thanks for your advise and input. And yes I do things like that. I have many Spanish friends which whom I speak Spanish. Do other things like, Go salsa dancing, to Spanish speaking churches, Spanish parties and gatherings and any other opportunities within my country. While these things help, these events are only few times a week for a couple hours. It does help but it would take years of only doing these things to reach a fluent speaking level, you’ve got to force yourself to speak even more than that when your living in a country where the national language isn’t the one your studying.

Reading Out loud is something I have found to be very effective to accustom your face muscles (or such) to pronounce words. The thing reading out loud doesn’t help with a lot though, is bettering your ability to create your own authentic sentences only using words already in your active vocabulary… I do speak to myself sometimes out loud which does help all around, but too much of that will end you up in the crazy house . lol :slight_smile:

Thanks for your input and comments. I probably should have cleared this up a little better. The problem isn’t finding Spanish speakers in America. Where i’m from there are more than enough Spanish natives to speak with. And I do and am involved with plenty of activities to practice speaking Spanish in real life face to face with native speakers. But with a daily busy routine of work and so forth I cant get enough speaking time out of these few times a week activities. Thus it would take forever for me to better my speaking fluency at this rate. Thus I believe one has to force them self to speak everyday to speed up the process when you are not living in a country who’s national language is the one your studying.

I actually am a big proponent of tracking your progress such as hours. Because I want to learn other language, keeping track of the time your put in, helps to give you somewhat of a timetable of how long and how much work you need to do to get your language to a certain point. For example, When I hit 400 hours of Spanish listening, million words of reading I felt I had cross over into an advance level. Tracking progress and setting goals holds you responsible. If you want to speak a language at a high level eventually you have to put in a little dirty work, forcing yourself to read, listen and speak even when you don’t want to. This will speed up the process. I will say, when your living in the country a lot of this practice comes a lot less deliberately.

thanks for that video, very good!

Hey thanks for your input. I can’t say more Skype is not the answer at this point. Because while you do have to explain English to them sometimes, if your good enough, you can explain all the answers to the questions they have in Spanish. But I actually haven’t found that to be a problem yet. A lot of times I will only speak Spanish to them and they speak English to many over many different topics. Im trying to stay away from the paid tutoring exchanges because I don’t want to spend the money. But at the same time my level is already pretty high, so maybe a tutor could structure our conversations in areas that I struggle with. I may try that one day. thanks

good to hear this from a person who’s has been trying this method of bettering speaking in a language through putting in more hours on Skype. it is my theory, hope to get the same results as you.

Skype is a good way to make up for the lack of your daily encounters or opportunities to speak in your target language your learning.

if you listen enough you can at the least, be able to pronounce the words in a way that native speakers would understand. but you need many authentic conversations in order to practice what speaking requires, which is forming sentences and using your active vocabulary with the aid of your own mind.

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