As any other translator, you probably want to know as many languages as possible and boost your language speaking skills. That’s how you expand your skillset and get better at what you do.
Knowing multiple languages makes you a better match for books such as Cortazar’s Hopscotch, for example. It’s written in Spanish, but it has a lot of French throughout. The more language speaking skills you have, the better!
But, the question is: how can you speed up the language learning process? How do you become a fluent speaker and improve your language speaking skills?
After all, you’re learning foreign languages not only because you want to use them in your work, but also because you want to communicate with native speakers.
Have you ever thought about the relationship between speaking and writing skills? According to Dorothy Simons, a writing tutor at EduGeeksClub, there’s a close connection between these two aspects of learning a language. Improving your writing can actually improve your language speaking skills.
She explains, “Both of them are about the person creating language. Creating language? That’s what many translators shy away from. They are used to translating language, so they prefer focusing on that aspect. Through writing and speaking, however, they understand how the language works.”
You become a better writer when you learn more words and you speak more fluently. The connection works the other way around, too. When you boost your writing practice, you can also boost your language speaking skills. Here's how that works.
The Relationship Between Writing and Speaking
A research study conducted in 2015 by Pamela Rausch, named The Relationship between English Speaking and Writing Proficiency and Its Implications for Instruction, gives us interesting details about the connection between writing and speaking.
English language learners can master everyday conversational language with moderate effort. However, they struggle to master the syntax and vocabulary needed for academic writing. They lack argumentative skills in the language they are learning.
This research showed that if the learners have skills to produce academic language in writing, they can transfer the argumentative skills to language speaking skills.
Let’s say you’re learning Italian and you want to take it to the next level. Argumentation in Italian is easy, you just have to use some hand gestures, right? Wrong! Gaining proper language speaking skills requires a great deal of effort, and you can make that happen if you write more.
Tips To Boost Your Language Speaking Skills
1. Focus on Quantity
That’s right, we said it. Improving your language speaking skills is not the type of practice where less is more. When you’re trying to learn a foreign language, more is more.
Remember what Ray Bradbury said? “Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.” Okay, he was referring to writers, but we might as well accept that useful tip as language learners, too.
Here’s the deal: you have to write every single day. Get a notebook and start jotting things down. The point is to make writing a routine and keep going.
Devote at least half an hour to writing, every single day. Weekends, too! Over time, you’ll get better. You’ll improve your vocabulary and you’ll master the syntax structure of that language. You’ll constantly work on transferring those language writing skills to language speaking skills.
There’s another great thing about consistent writing practice: it shows your progress. When you see something you wrote a month ago and you compare it to the content you have written today, you’ll notice a huge difference.
2. Pick Topics You’re Passionate About
This is not an academic assignment. Yes, you should write, but you should do it in a way that makes you enjoy the whole process. If you focus on dry academic writing, you won’t be inspired to say those things when you talk to someone.
You’ll benefit from the writing practice when you put all your mind and energy into it. You need to give your own personality to it, so you’ll naturally translate that uniqueness into your speech. This will logically aid your language speaking skills.
Pick topics you’re passionate about. Maybe it’s literature. Maybe it’s your daily occurrences. Maybe you’d like to write about something new you learn every day.
Write whatever you want to write about, but be serious about it. Pay attention to proper syntax. Use the right words in the right places. Make sure the grammar is correct. That’s the kind of proficiency you want to show through your language speaking skills.
3. Get Corrections!
Of course you’ll make mistakes in writing. Who doesn’t? This is not your native language, after all. If you don’t pay attention to those mistakes though, you’ll be making them in your language speaking skills as well.
How do you notice a mistake unless someone makes it obvious for you? Steve Kaufmann, co-founder of LingQ and author of The Linguist blog, explains how he benefits from writing and getting corrections on his content:
“It helps me focus, it helps me notice. When I’m writing, and it takes me a while to write 250 words, I have the feeling that I wish I were reading and learning new words and doing the things that I most enjoy doing. But I realized that this writing has got me focusing better.”
Kaufmann gives us an interesting perspective on the writing practice: it’s a tool that makes you notice. That aspect will help you get more out of your reading and language speaking skills.
Who will give feedback to your writing? Well, you can get it from the online community. Sites like LingQ connect you with native speakers of different languages. If you like social networking more, you can easily connect with native speakers through Facebook by joining the right groups.
Or, you could start a blog and invite people to comment on your posts with suggestions for improvements. That’s a brave step, isn’t it? Sharing your journey of learning a language and improving your language speaking skills will keep you motivated not to disappoint the audience.
4. Eliminate the Clutter
When you’re learning a new language, you want to use more words. You want to show how much you’ve mastered the vocabulary. But you’re a translator. You know better than that.
You’re not trying to write pretty words. When you’re practicing writing in a foreign language, the main point is to make sense!
Focus on clarity and readability, and edit! Reduce the clutter as much as possible, no matter how wonderful the sentences seem.
Through the editing process, you’ll notice your own mistakes. If you’re not confident about a particular sentence, you should check its grammar and vocabulary.
Remind yourself what powerful writing is all about: making a memorable statement with as few words as possible. That’s Hemingway at his best.
Speaking a foreign language often involves unnecessary words and sounds. When you focus on reducing the clutter in the content you write, you’re also teaching yourself how to speak clearly and improve your language speaking skills.
Related Post: Encouraging Language Learning at Home and in School
5. Read It
When you read something in the language you’re learning, you learn new words and you see how they are being used in a sentence. Reading is important, so you should definitely pick a few favorite blogs and newspapers in the language of your interest.
You know what else works? Reading your own writing! Out loud! You’ll see how you used the words, and you’ll be practicing pronunciation, which will boost your language speaking skills.
When you read your content, it will be easier to notice the flaws. If something sounds off, there’s probably a grammar or syntax issue there. Check it!
Try reading like this:
- Use your normal voice first. If you just started learning the language, you’ll be rather slow at this. That’s exactly why you should keep trying. Read slowly and carefully. If you get stuck with a word, ask someone how to pronounce it. You can easily find the right thread on Reddit. The online community is great at helping people learn languages.
- Read it again. Now, use slightly exaggerated movements with your lips and pronounce the words with a higher pitch. This will sound weird at first, but you’ll notice the difference. When you’re exaggerating the speech, you’re learning how to pronounce the words more clearly.
Why is reading your content better than reading anything else? If you read a book or a blog post in your target language, you can get better at pronouncing the words. However, that’s not the whole point of language learning.
You’ll sound better not when you become better at pronunciation, but when you say the right things. That’s why you should create language. You’ll be doing that through writing, and the reading practice will complement your efforts.
Consistent Writing Helps Your Language Speaking Skills
With writing, you’re paying attention to several things at once:
- Word choice
- Authentic voice
- Sentence structure
- Grammar and spelling
Since writing is a slower process than speaking, you have more time to think how to use the words properly. With time and practice, you’ll get faster. As you’re getting better, it will be easier for you to translate those skills to your speaking practice. Your language speaking skills will improve by leaps and bounds!
You’ll be a fluent speaker of a foreign language when you pay attention to all above-listed aspects (minus the spelling) without getting confused through your speech. You’ll come to that point when things come naturally to you. The more you write, the sooner you’ll experience such progress.
Antonio Tooley is a hopeless optimist who enjoys basking in the world's brightest colors. He loves biking to distant places and occasionally he gets lost. When not doing that he's blogging and teaching ESL. He will be happy to meet you on Facebook and Twitter.