04 Jun How to improve your speaking skill in a foreign language
Most adult learners of foreign languages, especially learners of English here in Spain and Argentina, where I´ve worked and currently work as a language teacher, express their wish to improve their speaking skill above all other skills. Many need it in order to pass an exam (all certificates, from A1 to C2, have a speaking part) and some others to be able to communicate at work or on their travels. A big number of students say that what does not allow them to speak fluently is their lack of vocabulary and fear of ridicule.
Suggestions regarding this topic vary depending on each learner, the learning stage he/she is in and the learning methodology he/she is using (self directed learning, language school, private teacher, etc.). In this article, I will make reference to ideas that students who are already studying a foreign language, either at a language school or by themselves, can apply to their learning.
To improve our level in any given skill, several things will be necessary: the skill´s practice, the study of the language and the exposure to it. The language study doesn´t just mean memorizing expressions and doing gramar exercises, but practising other skills as well, such as writing, which helps us, without any doubt, to experiment with the target language and reinforce our learning. At the same time, without the language exposure, without listening andreading, we cannot fix new structures.
As I have mentioned in the previous paragraph, practice is key. Then, how can you practise speaking outside the class? Fortunately, there are more and more options these days:
Language partner: they can be found through various websites, such as Conversation Exchange, The Mixxer, Live Mocha, etc. (see full list on this same website under language exchange category). The exchanges can be face-to-face or online. The benefits to having a language partner are several, as I will explain in a future article.
Exchange groups: Here in Spain, there are each time more language exchange groups in bars, where apart from meeting new people and making friends, you can practise and share languages.
Movie clubs: It´s another practice which, though less common than the exchange groups, it is starting to be in fashion little by little. You only need to explore the net to find some. For example, the MeetUp website in Valencia.
Book clubs: For the literature lovers this seems to be a good option. Of course, depending on the club, a more or less advanced language level will be required.
So, with so many and varied options, there are no more excuses to begin practising. Cheer up and go ahead!