Weekly Tip – 3/13/15

Weekly Tip: Are you speaking?
The tip today is for the listeners…the students who understand practically everything, yet sit in silence ☹ This blog is for you!

Last week we talked about your opposites – the students who speak, speak, speak, but sometimes have a hard time understanding because they don’t take the time to develop their listening skills. You have done that. You have been sharpening your listening skills your entire life. That is seriously awesome and I would want you as my therapist! But do you ever feel like you’re missing out when it comes to your Spanish? Like your speaking skills are just not getting better? It’s time to shake things up chicos and jump in!

I doubt that your personality is going to change by reading this blog, but I do hope that you realize how important speaking is for learning purposes. If being able to communicate is your goal, it goes both ways – being able to understand the person you are speaking to and being able to communicate whatever it is that you want to say. And you can’t possibly get better at it if you don’t do it.

– Participate in class. If you are shy and don’t feel the need to share about your life, be the one in the class that asks the other students follow up questions.
– Talk to yourself. This is by far one of the best things you can do to improve your speaking skills. You know all those little thoughts you have in your head? The “I’m feeling kind of hungry right now, I wonder what’s in the fridge, oohhh I have some leftover chocolate cake, I have to pee, where is the dog?” – You know those thoughts – we all have them, so from now on, don’t have them in your head and in English, have them out loud and in Spanish. You will learn a tremendous amount of vocabulary (if you take the time to look some new words up), you will get more speaking hours in (which is absolutely necessary to develop your speaking skills) and you will become more confident from all the practice.
– Read out loud. Some students are afraid to speak in class because they think they sound weird speaking Spanish. That’s because it’s not natural yet. The only way for it to become natural is by getting used to the sound of your voice in Spanish. Reading out loud can help you accomplish that.
– When you get home from class, read your notes out loud. Read all the new vocabulary and all the notes and then reminisce about the class out loud. It will help you retain the vocabulary you learned and also give you more speaking time.

Bottom line: Speaking and listening are equally important when learning a language, yet we all tend to lean more towards one than the other in life. When you are learning to communicate in a foreign language, you must make sure that your personality doesn’t completely take over, not allowing you to fully develop your communication skills.