Lesson Transcript

Most people who learn a foreign language learn it so that they can one day have real life conversations with native speakers. When you start out learning and crack open your first textbook or listen to your first podcast, having a real conversation can feel like a pipe dream. When everything about a language feels new it can be overwhelming.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth. While it does take a significant amount of time and effort to become fluent, having a conversation might not be as far off as you think.
In this video we’ll look at three ways you can boost your conversational skills and start talking to native speakers!
Number 1: Find native speakers and practice with them
Its most likely that you don't live near a big group of native speakers to practice with.
If you happen to be in a major or international city your chances may be better. Check and see if your city has a general language exchange. Chances are there could be a native speaker there who is also trying to learn another language.
Practicing in person with a Native speaker is probably the most interesting option for honing your speaking skills, but if you can’t find anyone where you live the next best option is to look online. Luckily for language learners the past 10 years or so have seen an explosion on online language exchange sites. On these websites you can search for someone who is a native speaker of your target language and is also learning your native language.
The idea behind a language exchange is that you communicate with them via video or text chat, and half of the time they help you practice your target language, and for the other half you help them practice theirs. Practicing via an online language exchange is a highly effective way to practice your conversational skills.
Number 2: Work on pronunciation
Pronunciation is often an overlooked skill when it comes to learning a foreign language. Most people think of a good foreign accent as a luxury rather than a necessity. But what most people don’t talk about is how having a good accent boosts your listening and comprehension skills.
If you can hear a sound from a foreign language and know how to make it yourself then you’re more likely to understand native speakers when they talk at normal speed, and you’re also more likely to remember any new words or phrases you come across. Having a good accent means that the language no longer sounds foreign. Instead it sounds familiar, maybe even natural.
So how do you go about perfecting your accent?
The best way is to break down the language into its individual sounds. Make note of any sounds that are the same or similar to your native language and of those that are different. Of the sounds that are different, spend your time practicing the ones that you find the hardest to say correctly.
After you’re comfortable with the individual sounds you can start linking together words and phrases. This is where accent practice starts to get really fun and interesting. Get your hands on some native speaker audio from a TV show, song, or podcast.
Play the audio back and listen closely a few times. Take note of how words blend together in spoken speech. Then do you best to imitate what you hear, trying to match the speaker’s emphasis and intonation. Our language learning program's playback feature is perfect for this.
Record yourself and compare it to the original recording. Rinse and repeat until you are comfortable with the audio selection and then move on to something more difficult. This is how you can break through the accent barrier and really start to make the language your own.
Number 3: Learn phrases not just individual words
Learning grammar and individual words is great, but it’s not the only approach you should take if you want to speak fluently.
In addition to your regular grammar and vocabulary try learning whole phrases, even if you aren’t totally sure how they work grammatically. Learn phrases that are specific to your needs. It’s a good idea to learn phrases that are grouped around a certain setting or subject such as simple greetings or introductions, questions for getting to know someone, or traveling comfortably. You can even learn filler phrases which you can use so that you have something to say when well...you don’t know what to say.
Learning phrases like this will help you become conversational faster. You may not understand what you’re saying literally, but as long as you know the general meaning behind the phrase and know when to use it, you’ll be able to talk like a native. Eventually your knowledge of grammar and vocabulary should catch up with the phrases you know.
Learning a new language should feel like an adventure. There will be plateaus and periods in your learning where it feels like you’re hitting a wall, but being able to speak with native speakers and have real conversations will help you combat language fatigue.
After all, talking to someone face to face in a foreign language is one of the main reasons we start learning in the first place!
And for even more ways to gain conversation skills, check out our complete language learning program. Sign up for your free lifetime account by clicking on the link in the description. Get tons of resources to have you speaking in your target language. And if you enjoyed these tips, hit the "like" button, share the video with anyone who's trying to learn a new language, and subscribe to our channel. We release new videos every week! I'll see you next time. Bye!