What do you do to start speaking the language?

I’m quite curious to know what everyone else does in order to start speaking the language?

After enough input activity, which can vary with the language, I look for opportunities to speak. This can be with people I overhear speaking the language on the street, or via Skype on LingQ. In other words, I just talk talking.

What I do is I build up a lot of input from a course I obtain, Assimil or Living Language Ultimate Series.After I feel comfortable in the language where I really want to start speaking, I start doing the “Shadowing” method from Professor Alexander Arguelles. At the same time, of course I’m using LingQ at the time, I start doing the same thing with the audio on LingQ. Another thing I do is I sometimes read out loud.

I really don’t start this until I have acquired many words and can understand most of what is being said. This is what I am doing with in Modern Standard Arabic.

I’m with Steve, I say just jump right in and start talking to people. Depending on where you live in the States, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding enough Spanish speakers to practice on, and I’ve always found people from Central and South America to be very patient and friendly when spoken to in Spanish by a foreigner.

As far as Arabic’s concerned, that may be a bit more difficult, but I’m sure you could find people who’d be willing to do a language exchange. Moses McCormick would probably be a good person to ask on that one. You can message him here:


If you can’t find anyone to speak the language with, you may want to reconsider why you are learning the language in the first place. Other than that, I think you should try to begin speaking as soon as possible with native speakers. It puts your brain on “alert mode” and stimulates your memory, so that when you say something in conversation you can truly say you have mastered that set of vocabulary.

The most important thing, however, is probably to learn how to say, “My ______ is poor, I am trying to learn.” in the target language. :slight_smile:

The issue of when to start speaking is an interesting one. I prefer to study on my own until I feel ready to speak. The length of time of this silent period can vary from months to a few years depending on the language and what one wants to do.

I learned Russian to be able to understand movies, read books and listen to the radio. I do not have much of an opportunity to speak here so that speaking was not a priority. Furthermore I was not that keen to speak when I had very few words, whereas I am very happy to try out what I know now, and to see my gaps, so it depends on your situation and your goals.

Also, I’ve found that it is best to speak to people who have only one native language: i.e. your target language. For example, when I try to speak to people who are native speakers of both English and Spanish, they tend to revert to English even when I speak Spanish to them. It’s just human nature to revert to the language of the host country. That’s why it’s important to find people who are more proficient in your target language than they are in your native language. Just my two cents.

From a practical point of view, when you are starting out you cannot say much. Therefore it is more meaningful to start out with conversations with tutors, for example here at LingQ where we get a report back of the words and phrases that we misused. There is a limit to the extent we can prevail upon the good will of strangers when we cannot really communicate.

I might add that I went for two years without speaking Russian and now I really enjoy my online sessions. I have three lined up in the next two days. If I get enough people to my own English discussions I can cover the cost.

So why not come forward and tutor with us.

Steve, why don’t you have much an opportunity to speak Russian? Don’t you have a good choice of Russian tutors? And I believe that Russian speakers can be easily found in Canada. Am I right?

Victor, I am lining up more and more discussions with Rasana, Lyudmilla and Dimitriy. here at LingQ. Maybe I will seek out some of the local Russian community but you cannot just approach people and say can I join your group so that I can practice Russian. We have to find things in common. It is an investment in a new group of friends. It all takes time. It is easier to schedule discussions here at LIngQ, which I am doing more and more.

It is mighty difficult to particpate from here. After which casual post Big Brother disconnects me from the Internet for a day or two. Maybe I look like an idiot, some people call it “hit and run tactics”. But I am not a guerilla warrior, I just walk here at the full length of my leash. This I post from other man’s computer. Such are the gloomy realities in Russia.

That is one of the great things about the LingQ system, the opportunity to practise speaking in a “non-live” situation without being obligated to do an exchange.

At the same time, the contact with tutors often becomes a motivating factor and stimulates you to progress in order to be able to speak about more interesting things and to get to know one another better - but throughout the process you always have a sympathetic listener who will allow you to speak and make mistakes and learn. Common interests often emerge during this process. This isn’t as easy to find talking to a strangers at a bus stop, or joining the Canadian Society of Russian Stamp collectors if you are not sufficiently confident and competent in the language and cannot automatically begin to talk about shared interests or advanced ideas.

Another great thing is that you can choose to pay or you can join up as a tutor and cover the costs of your own lessons.

Get enough input until you feel ready to speak- that is the right way in my opinion.
Then speak per Skype with a tutor. There is another small thing, which seems to improve the speaking faster – record your conversation with tutor, then listen to it many times. It is a kind of review, and you would discover your own mistakes and thus learn a lot. Of course ask the tutor whether she or he doesn’t mind recording.