Questions from Students

Am I Ready To Speak The Language?


This is a question I’ve heard people ask after a few lessons of study. It is thought that if you don’t have enough basic vocabulary, grammar or a general understanding when others speak, then you’re not ready. Let me get straight to the point - You are always ready to speak a language, no matter what level you are at. Even if you know just one word in a language, you can still communicate.

How can you speak the language when you know just a few words or phrases? Just go ahead and use what you know. Even if you're on the first lesson of your studies and you learned how to greet someone, go ahead and greet them in their language. Some languages mix together English with their own to make a type of Creole to communicate (Spanglish is very well known example here in the United States). Have you read the article on phrasebooks as pocket-sized language courses? Just learning a basic phrase like “Where is…?” and then using a dictionary to fill in the blank is quick and easy.

Practice with Your Language Partner

If you have a language partner, it can really help if you use every opportunity to speak to one another in the language you're learning, even if all you can say is “please”, “thank you” and “How are you?” at first. This will not only help your communication skills, but also your pronunciation so you won’t be fumbling around later when you really need to speak the language. Also, try not to fall into the one mistake I’ve seen many times during my travels - tourists speaking English the entire time, and shouting their requests assuming that more volume is equivalent to better comprehension. It’s considered rude and the listener may just walk away.

For Emergencies Only - “Do You Speak English?”

If you relax your mind and focus on what is being said around you, you can get by with what you've already learned in your lessons. To help you prepare, try rearranging the sentences into questions, or change the verb tenses and gender rules. If you find yourself really, really stuck, ask if the other person speaks English. When they see you are really trying by using the basics in their language to the best of your abilities, you will be shown more respect since you have shown it to them.