It isn’t that difficult to see why speaking along with listening is one of the most difficult skills in a foreign language. Several linguistic skills are having to be managed at the same time – pronunciation, vocabulary, spontaneity, rythmn, intonation, pronunciation, grammar use, register etc.
There are some strategies that you can use to facilitate the task in order to improve precision and fluidity in oral expression :
- Some linguistic elements are purely transactional – communication is for specific objectives such as the purchase of items in a shop. You can prepare yourself beforehand by practicing by role play etc.
- Sometimes you can use conjecture, if you can’t find the words that you need, you could always try to guess the right words – not always satisfactory at 100% but at least it is better than just blocking.
- Try to get around blocking barriers by paraphrasing or asking open-ended questions and listen actively to the response.
- Learn buffer expressions to control the speaker « Can you repeat that please », « Can you go over that again » « Can you say that another way » « Can you spell that please » etc.
- When reading, try to read aloud, this will have a positive impact on your memory by remembering key sentences and expressions. This will also help your fluidity and your ability to speak more naturally. Try repeating in front of a mirror to start using your facial muscles, your tongue and your lips in a way natives do when speaking.
- Start taking more risks by speaking as often as possible – even if you still make mistakes, this is rarely fatal and only those who don’t dare take risks and make mistakes never progress – you will eventually be able to eliminate your mistakes with practice.
- Record yourself in order to be able to evaluate yourself – don’t get too preoccuppied with your accent – this is YOU – look more at pronunciation, rythmn, tone, stress patterns and fluidity.
- Take whole sentences and repeat them aloud using a variety of different emotions (sad, happy, nervous, excited, bored) – record yourself and see if the emotions can be identified afterwards. Change the speed of delivery and the stress on different words in a sentence to convey different messages
- Note down words as you HEAR them as well as how they are spelt to improve pronunciation.
Have fun doing the above – smile and enjoy your learning.
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