One of the most difficult parts of learning any language is speaking. Personally, I find it relatively easy to fit listening and reading into my day. But, for some reason, speaking is just a lot more difficult. So, here’s my number one technique for regular speaking practice…record yourself!
Why is speaking so hard?
Speaking is probably the scariest of all the skills you need to practice when you are learning a language. Listening and reading are both internal, so you can let the information flow into your mind at your own pace. Writing is also very personal because you are putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, to produce something new. With speaking though, you have to open your mouth and actually say stuff. There are lots of things to think about!
Pronunciation, hesitation, stress, intonation, tones (if your language includes them) and a whole lot more. It’s scary, overwhelming and difficult. I feel you!
That is where recording yourself can really help.
Audio or Video?
I have heard lots of arguments on both sides but I am a firm believer in video for a number of reasons. It allows you to hear yourself and see your body language and other things you wouldn’t notice otherwise. Languages aren’t just about the words but also your body language, face shape and lots of other factors that come together to produce the beautiful linguistic tapestry.
It can feel a little like jumping in at the deep end, but sometimes it is important to get that little push. When you are outside your comfort zone you will learn more. You can do it! I believe in you!
The 9 Reasons to need to record yourself today!
1. It’s Free!
Before I go into the language specific benefits, the first is financial. It doesn’t cost anything! Most of us have a great camera in our pockets on our smartphones. Or a webcam on a computer. Both perfect for recording videos. You don’t need a subscription or membership. Just a finger to press that record button.
In a world where everything costs money, having a free option to practice speaking is something you need in your life. Save those pennies for a rainy day!
2. Get comfortable hearing your own voice.
Everytime you hear a recording of yourself or feedback on a bad connection, it’s cringeworthy. I remember when I started learning Italian, I recorded my lessons to review and couldn’t even watch them back because I hated the sound of my own voice so much. It actually put me off speaking and I would always revert to writing a message to someone instead.
The more you do, the more comfortable you’ll become and then you can really start to focus on listening to your pronunciation and the phrases you are using.
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I've been struggling a bit recently and I thought it would be good to share. A problem shared is a problem hacked, after all! . I'm still using my Italian daily but struggling to find the energy to do those tasks that take me forward. So, I feel a little stuck, like I'm not improving. I'm working on it and trying to get back into the swing of things which is just taking me a little while to find the right angle, but sometimes finding the solution is as important as the solution itself, right? ? . I'd love to hear from you too. What's the biggest language learning problem you are dealing with at the moment? . Sharing is the first step towards solving it and we can definitely do it together ?? . #motivation #mystory #languageproblems #polyglotproblems #vlog #languagelearning #languagelover #learningitalian #languages #foreignlanguages #polyglot #polyglotcommunity #aproblemsharedisaproblemhalved #sharingiscaring #wecandoit #languagediarychallenge
I have recorded myself so much in my Italian studies that I actually feel more comfortable speaking in front of a camera in Italian than I do in English. It gave me a real confidence boost and helped me push my speaking fluency forward a long way.
3. Being able to see your mistakes
We all make mistakes. No one is perfect, not even me (just ask my wife!). But, mistakes are one of the most important parts of learning, because that is where new language comes from. You make a mistake, find the solution and take a step forward.
When you record yourself you have something you can review in detail and highlight all the mistakes you notice. Pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar. All those things that you would probably miss when you are having a normal conversation.
Hesitations are your best friend here. For me, hesitations are a signal of something I am not 100% sure of. Maybe it is the pronunciation of a particular word or the grammatical construction of the sentence, but that is a red flag that tells me “HEY! Look here! There is something new you can improve on”.
Pronunciation is very important. If you pronounce the words clearly and correctly, people will understand you and it will make conversation a lot easier. But, when you are in the middle of a conversation, it can be really difficult to identify the mistakes you are making. That’s where having video evidence comes in.
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?? Reading out loud is one of the most language learning techniques I use. It is reading practice to learn new phrases and also practice my speaking skills by simply repeating what I read. It is amazing how easy it is to notice words and phrases you find difficult by reading out loud and you can revise them to improve your pronunciation. Do you read out loud in the languages you learn? . ??Leggere ad alta voce è una delle tecniche di apprendimento della lingua più utilizzate. È la pratica per leggere e imparare le frasi nuove e praticare ancora le mie abilità di speaking da ripetere semplicemente quello che ho letto. È fantastico come facile è per notare le parole e le frasi trovi difficile quando leggi ad alta voce e puoi rivederle e migliorare la pronuncia. Leggi tutte ad alta voce nelle lingue che tu imparassi? . #reading #readoutloud #speakingitalian #vlog #vlogger #harrypotter #pottermore #youreawizardharry #learnitalian #babysteps #correctionswelcome #languagepractice #languagelearning #languagelover #polyglot #languagediarychallenge #joyoflanguages
I often record myself reading a couple of paragraphs from a book or a script from a video, which I can then compare to a native speaker’s audio. Listening to them both together is a much easier way of noticing the differences and trying to copy the way the native speaker says it.
I have even sent a picture or a text to my Italian friends and asked them to record themselves reading it so that I can practice a particular section I am struggling with. It’s a slow process, but having these resources makes it a lot smoother.
5. A memento of your studies
We all take pictures of our holidays so we can remember them years later. So, why should language learning be any different? You spend so much time learning a language and want to make sure that you don’t forget all that hard work you have put in.
A little souvenir to look at fondly and remember the good times when you didn’t know about all the crazy grammar or structures you are currently learning. The good old days!
There is a more important reason than nostalgia though….
6. Seeing your progress.
Being able to see the progress you are making, however small, is the number one motivation boost. Most people get stuck at the intermediate level and stop learning a language through frustration because there is so much to learn and it feels like you are not moving forward at all. In reality, though, you are moving forward but you just can’t see it.
Having a recording to review is a very objective way of identifying your mistakes but also seeing which mistakes you have corrected. I often repeat an activity again,maybe a month or so later, so I have two recordings to compare. It’s an amazing feeling when you can read more fluently, pronounce words better or just say more interesting things.
7. Getting support
Language learning can be a very solitary affair. Most of us are doing it on our own which means lots of time in front of your books and computer working away. The only problem can be finding people that really understand why you like it so much.
When I talk to my family or friends, they have no clue what I am talking about. It’s like I said I want to move to the moon.
From my own experience, the language learning community is the most supportive and positive one I have ever been part of and I am so glad that I can meet like minded people and share ideas. Even when I feel stupid or unmotivated, there is someone there to give you a nice comment and a helping hand.
It’s not necessary to share your recordings online, but when there are people there to help you on your journey, it can make everything easier!
8. No fear of corrections or interruptions
When you feel nervous about speaking, it can be a really scary thing when someone stops you mid conversation to give you a correction. You are just getting into the flow of what you are trying to say, or finding that specific word you have misplaced, and then they stop you. Normally they mean well, but it can make things a little more difficult.
That’s why videos are great! You are in complete control. You can record, pause or stop when you like. Even if you sit for 5 minutes searching for a word, that’s fine. There are no rules, just an opportunity to speak in your target language.
Remember, anything goes. You are the boss!
9. It’s on your time
Unlike group classes or live TV shows, you can do it anytime. When you wake up first thing in the morning. While you are cooking dinner or even while you work out, if that’s your thing. There are no time zones to match up or meetings to arrange, just hit record and you are good to go.
All of our lives are really busy, so it’s important to find activities that can fit around your day. Recording a video is something you can take complete control of and make it as long or short as your calendar allows. Even 1 minute is better than nothing, right?
Record yourself and put this into practice!
Now, you have my 9 magic reasons to record yourself in your target language. Well, maybe not magic, but they are pretty great. But, that’s not all. I want to give you a place where you can put them all into practice and see the progress in your target language today. This place is called The Language Diary Challenge.
This is a challenge I host on Instagram and Facebook to allow language learners from around the world to share their studies with other like minded people. Any language, any subject, any format. Anything goes! You just have to come and join in the fun.
And by taking part, you also have the chance to win a special prize each month. A little extra treat just to say thank you for being so amazing.
You just have to post and get involved in the community. We are all working together to improve our languages and make the world a more multilingual place.
I look forward to seeing all your videos soon. You can do it because you are awesome!
Until next time,