Learn English – How to practice speaking

We all want to measure our progress in language learning. Improvement comes slowly.  In this video, I describe what is working for me as a Spanish language learner.  The insights apply to any language.

What level English language learner are you? Do you know how to figure that out? Do you know how to judge your level? Let’s talk. 

(Intro: English without Fear where you can learn to speak English naturally, through listening to stories)

This year, 2021, my goal for learning Spanish is to focus more on my speaking. Last year, 2020, my goal was to get lots of rich input through listening, reading, watching videos. And I accomplished my goal. But by the end of 2020, with 1,845 hours of input, I wanted to focus on speaking. So, what was my plan?

I don’t know that many Spanish speakers here in Alabama. So, I thought in order to practice speaking, I could record a voice memo on my phone in Spanish, and then play it back. I thought I could tell stories. I could talk about what I did today or last week. And that was my plan. I wanted to practice speaking more. 

But very quickly that changed. Let me explain. I have six friends who speak Spanish. Five are native Hispanics, and one is a former Spanish teacher, an American. So, what I have done is set up a schedule with my first friend, Roberto, I record a message using WhatsApp and tell a story. Usually my stories are eight to 10 minutes long, something from my past or about a book I’m reading,  a movie I’m watching. I do that in Spanish. He listens and then he writes up and sends me corrections. He then records a message in English, a story. And I do the same for him.

I have the same kind of relationship with two other Hispanics. I do a story in Spanish. They correct. They do a story in English. I correct. The fourth Hispanic person is in Columbia. And she and I just talk about our lives. She doesn’t want corrections and I don’t ask her for corrections. She sends me a message once a week in English.  I send her a message once a week in Spanish, again, about eight to 10 minutes long, speaking audio. The next Hispanic friend is somebody with whom I do a one-hour ‘intercambio’.

We use FaceTime video and we’re working on a book together. We’re doing a book study about decision-making. One week, she prepares the chapter in English and the next week, it’s my turn to prepare the next chapter in Spanish. And we spend an hour together every week, half in English, half in Spanish talking about the book. Then finally, the sixth person is this American gal who was a Spanish teacher. She just records in Spanish about her week, her girls, her life. I do the same thing in Spanish and we don’t correct. So, that’s what my language learning activities look like. I keep reading. I read my Bible every day in Spanish and I watch videos. But speaking, this is what I’m doing. And what I have found is really exciting. I now feel like I am at the high intermediate level.

I don’t think levels of language ability are like a math formula. It…it’s an intuitive feeling. Language learning is an art. It’s complicated. It’s rich. It overlaps. But I feel, I think that now, I am at an intermediate, a high intermediate level. And why is that? Because I can speak more confidently about some things. 

I still have problems when the vocabulary is new and different. I feel choppy. It doesn’t flow, but more and more, I can have a conversation. I can tell a story and feel comfortable. This really makes me happy. So, I’m hoping by the end of 2021, I will be even better. 

Learning another language is a long process, but it’s an adventure and it gets better and it gets more fun. Well, what about you? Where are you in your English language learning adventure, your journey. Do you have a sense of what level you are at? And what are you doing to make progress with your goals? Tell me about it.

And if you would like the transcript, the written words for today’s episode, just go to my website, www.englishwithoutfear.com. And about a day after this video uploads, I will have posted the written words. Well, that’s it for the story of my progress so far.  I’m Maria from English without Fear. Talk to you next time.

(Outro: Thanks for watching. For questions or comments, here’s my email.)



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