Strategy and Tactics to Begin Speaking

I’m looking for some guidance to begin speaking. I’ve been studying French for 2 1/2 months and have acquired 2600 words on lingQ. I have recently been focused on listening comprehension and am now feeling like I want to speak although i am nervous about how that will go since i have not spoken French at all yet.

Here’s my strategy:

I plan on using italki conversation partners. I understand that discomfort is going to be the norm for awhile. But I want feel confident enough to not be fumbling around without having an idea of what we will talk about.

I like the idea of self practicing talking phrases first in the following areas:

  1. Introducing myself - name, age, where i live, work, and family
  2. Explain why i am learning french and the startegies i have followed to learn it (i.e. word acquisition thru reading and listening at lingQ)
  3. Travel to France ideas
  4. Other Interests - cooking, reading, film/tv, exercise, flyfishing, real estate, meditation, music, guitar, bowhunting, sustainable farming

Am I overthinking all this? Should i just dive in and struggle or should i practice writing out and speaking some of phrases and questions i will be trying to utter out?

Hi, Chris!

I understand that discomfort is going to be the norm for awhile.
Yes, it is. And if you “expect” this right from the start, you’ll probably succeed rather sooner than later. That is: “Make yourself comfortable with the uncomfortable!”.

Here are some spontaneous ideas that you could implement:

  • In the beginning, it’s best to avoid a free-floating discussion that lasts for an extended period of time (let’s say, more than 5-10 minutes). This usually never works at the beginner stage, even for experienced language learners.
  • You should stick to the basics first (your personal life, etc.) and use simple/short sentence structures.
  • It’s probably a good idea to be prepared by using expressions from the LingQ mini-stories, phrasebooks, etc. You could also memorize a coherent presentation about yourself.
  • You could use some basic things (a book, a bottle, a photo, a magazine cover, etc.) that you like to talk about in the conversation.
  • You could use some beginner dialogs of the “Français facile” podcast. It is best to work through these podcast episodes and simulate some everyday activities, such as.: acheter une baguette, un pain au chocolat, etc. dans une boulangerie. See: Dialogue en francais pour FLE niveau débutant (A1/A2)
  • He who asks leads: Let the tutor do the “heavy lifting” of the conversation by asking him or her simple questions about his or her life. This is more like Jeff Brown’s approach: Reddit - Dive into anything
  • You should continue with “massive” (!) immersion at least 1-2 h a day, esp. listening activities. BTW, I hope you’ve listened to a lot of French dialogs outside of LingQ. If not (that is: if you’ve only been reading on LingQ), you’ve definitely chosen the wrong approach because listening is a “must” for conversation / speaking.

Further Information:

Good luck

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This is exactly what i was hoping for. Thank you!

I followed your previous advice in regards to listening . I found that the innerfrench podcast was perfect for my level. I use workbookaudio to listen FIRST in small segments in order to get the meaning or at least the gist of the segment. I then use LingQ to create lingQs and read what i may have missed in each segment. I repeat this until i hit my goal of at least 100 LingQs a day. I also listen passively to News in Slow French while I am walking or driving, most of which i drift in an out of paying attention.

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With Italki conversations, I plan on asking that we only speak french and as Jeff Brown recommends to ask them not to correct me. In thinking about this, I’m not sure i like it. If I am not corrected, say for a verb form in the wrong tense or person, wont i just keep getting it wrong?

It seems that “correction” isn’t as important as we (myself included) once thought. For children learning their first language, it’s usually not a problem because they spend thousands of hours immersing themselves in the L1 and interacting with native speakers. So if you get enough immersion and interaction as an L2 learner, you’re also likely to auto-correct many errors yourself.
However, a practical compromise between no correction and permanent correction in your Italki conversation might be: Ask your tutor to send you a list of 3-5 of the most frequent errors (with specific examples) you made during the conversation. That should do the trick.

Good luck