My proficiency level when I arrived in France was low-beginner. I knew a couple or words and phrases, but had never taken a class. I spent two weeks in a French school and lived with a host family and ended up speaking French for hours every day. How did I speak for hours everyday if I didn’t speak the language?
Immersion is such an effective technique because you are forced to use the language everywhere. All your surroundings and interactions are in the language you’re trying to learn, so you are forced to use it. My French now (after the program has ended) is still at a beginner’s level, but I learned a sort-of a golden rule to conversation practice, one so obvious it seems silly to write an article on it. That rule is: leave your embarrassment at the door and just speak. Just speak and hope that people correct you. My mentality was: “I’m just going to speak until I get my point across. If people think my French is bad, I won’t be offended because my French is bad.”
When you decide to just speak, you realize that people are generally okay repeating themselves, speaking slower, or rephrasing. Speaking allows you to put all the vocabulary and grammar that you know together. It allows you to see what parts of the language you know and which you still have to work on. Travel to a country where the language is spoken, or find a teacher or Tandem partner to speak with. Conversation practice is amazing for higher-level learners, but is just as important for beginners.
- How often do you practice speaking English?
- What are additional tips for practicing conversation?