04 Jul 2016
Seven secrets to finding more effective ways to speaking a new language

It’s a fact that we like to speak more often than we like to listen. It is our spontaneous way of asserting our existence in this planet:
“I speak, therefore I am.”

Businessman knocking his head with a phone receiver.


The same is true when we decide to learn a new language. Even though listening comprehension, reading and writing are integral and unavoidable parts of language learning, we are mostly interested in speaking in our chosen new language.

For this reason, I’m going to share with you some open secrets that can help you find more ways to speak your new language:

  1. Choose the right language class.Do you remember those packed language classes where the teacher was doing all the talking and you barely had a chance to say a word?
    In those classes, you were spending most of the time doing grammar or written exercises.
    The solution: Register into a small or individual language class where you can have more time to speak.
    This can be illustrated with a simple calculation: Let us say that I, as a trainer, meet with 15 students for 90 minutes. For the sake of our example, let us also say that half of the time I’m speaking and the other half of the time, the students are speaking. That means that 45 minutes are available for 15 students, which amounts to an average of three minutes per student. This is way too little time to train your conversation skills!
  2. Find natural places where you can speak your target language.For English you can visit Pickwicks, an international pub, book and video store located in the first district of Vienna or join InterNations, an international expatriate organization operating locally.
    For other languages, find out through the respective embassy which clubs, associations or organizations are being active around your local area. You can also visit a restaurant featuring your chosen language, and besides eating a delicious meal you can ask the staff about any cultural activities that are going on at the moment.
  3. Make a simultaneous interpretation of what you are listening to into your mother tongue.It is clear that this can be done when you have reached at least the intermediate level. You can do this exercise mentally but it is even better if you speak the words out loud, and record them for post evaluation.
  4. Visit the country where your new language is spoken and mingle with the people.Don´t just fly to the Dominican Republic with the Kronen Zeitung under one arm and a Wiener Schnitzel under the other and spend all your time speaking German with your countrymen in your 5-star bunker! If you are just looking for sun and water, then try the Donau Insel – it’s cheaper.
  5. Be social in your own language.You don´t have to be a social butterfly, but you must genuinely like people, and be ready to open up. This is the price to be paid until you find the right person to talk to. Then it will be much easier to do it in a foreign language.
  6. Find a language tandem partner where you both spend equal time speaking each other´s language.I must confess that this in theory sounds interesting, but in practice, in this fast-paced world, it is now becoming more difficult to do it because you need to invest double the time to achieve your language goals.
  7. Find a soul-mate that speaks your new language.But remember that he/she is first and foremost your soul-mate, not your free language teacher, even if your partner is one by profession; otherwise you will kill the relationship. Rather, your partner should motivate you to speak more and help you learn in natural situations.

menshcen im kreis


I could add to the above list that we should speak without being afraid of making mistakes, that at the early stages of learning having a wide vocabulary is more important than grammar, and as fast-talkers we should pay more attention to our pronunciation. Our list of open secrets to get to speak our new language could go on and on but of outmost importance is to continue justifying our existence in this planet by keeping on talking.

What other ways have you found that help you train your speaking in your new language?

About the author: Carlos Aleson is the director of i-diom, an institute specialized in language and communications training in Austria.