By Jonty Yamisha
You can split every language into 4 domains: Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. To be fluent in a foreign language, you need to work on all domains. However, most people put off speaking a foreign language because they’re nervous or worried they’re not ready enough to get started. The truth is that if you want to become fluent in a language, you need to speak. You just need to do it in the right way.
If your goal is to be conversationally fluent in a language, then you need to prioritize speaking in your target language. However, if you’re learning a language to write or read in it, then your priorities will be different. It’s important for you to plan your language lessons around what your goals are. Otherwise, you’ll lose focus and not get the results you want.
One common mistake people make is that they want to speak in a new language; BUT, avoid speaking in it. In fact, they’ll put off speaking for so long that they actually develop anxiety around it. If you want to speak in a foreign language, you need to prioritize learning how to become a fluent speaker in that language. From the first day. No exceptions.
The more practice you have with anything, the better you get. So, if you’re wondering “how to become fluent in a language”, then you need to start speaking early on. By prioritizing speaking in a new language, you get used to saying the words. You get a feel for them. And you can even work on developing the right pronunciation and the right accent.
Having the right pronunciation and accent is key to fluency. If no one can understand what you’re saying, it doesn’t matter how many words you know or how much grammar you can understand, you won’t be fluent.
It’s hard for most people to believe, but most languages don’t have writing systems. The people who speak those languages are functionally illiterate. Being able to read and write is a relatively new concept for humanity. In 1950, just about half of the world’s population was literate. So, you don’t need to write in a foreign language before you can speak in it.
There’s no “wrong time” to start speaking in a new language. But how you choose to speak will help you become fluent in a language more easily. The most important thing here is to be comfortable speaking. If you feel forced or nervous, you’ll struggle to learn and end up slowing down your progress.
Most people who struggle with speaking go through this. As a result, they focus more on reading and writing. And that’s problematic. Big time. This is where you meet people who have spent years studying a foreign language, and yet, they can’t have a conversation. The longer you put off speaking, the more difficulty you’ll have. And you’ll turn something that’s not really a problem into something that is.
Working on your reading skills can make you better at speaking in a foreign language. That’s because when you read, you slow down and look at the words. You notice the grammar. And you even focus on the pronunciation. In turn, you get more familiar with the language. That familiarity translates into your conversations, making it easier for you to talk. (Not to mention, you’ll have more things to talk about.)
Here’s a secret for you: your brain is designed to learn languages. After all, you’ve already learned one. As you listen to a language, you’ll begin to differentiate between words and tones. And you’ll learn more and more about the language, all without speaking it.
Stephen Krashen, a foundational thinker in linguistics, noticed that children learning a second language would often simply listen without speaking. This would go on for months. And at the time, people thought children were slow to learn or shutting down and not learning at all. Through research, Krashen learned that the opposite was true. They were learning through listening.
After a while, when they were ready, the children began to talk in the target language. In short, when you listen to a language, you begin to absorb it. Even though it may look like nothing is happening, simply listening to the words can cause noticeable changes in your brain and forever alter your perception of that language. As humans, we’re built to learn languages. (How’s that for motivation!)
You should only start speaking when you feel comfortable. Studies have shown that forcing students to speak can be detrimental to their language learning progress. The “How” behind your desire to become a fluent speaker in your target language depends on you. Small steps at first. And only when you’re ready, should you push yourself to speak more complex sentences.
Learning a new language is about more than covering basic vocabulary. It’s about understanding meaning and context. But most language-learning apps fail at this. In the end, you may remember some words. However, you’ll struggle using the language as you stumble embarrassingly over the few words you’ve managed to pick up.
Confidence is key to overcoming language learning anxiety and speaking to local, native speakers in your target language. To increase your confidence, you need to be comfortable with talking to anyone at any time. That means you need to learn how to speak from the start.
When you use a language learning platform that distracts you with writing or typing in a foreign language, you put off speaking. Over time, you build up more and more anxiety around talking to locals in your new language. That anxiety causes you to make mistakes, which in turn, causes you to be more anxious. It’s a negative feedback loop.
If you’re wondering how to become fluent in a foreign language, then you need to STOP TYPING and START TALKING in your target language. The key is to speak from your very first lesson, so you’re confident in any situation. And to do that, it helps to have a language learning app that prioritizes speaking over typing.
With OptiLingo, you’ll start speaking from the first lesson unlike other apps that use fake internet points and games to distract you. Worse, ones that pester you from day to day, demanding that you “play”, all while keeping you from your goal of speaking a new language.
Choose a better path with OptiLingo. We don’t play games. Instead, our app guides you to fluency by getting you to speak from Day 1. We’re here to help you use your new language from the very first lesson. And we’ll help you feel more confident and comfortable as you do.
With OptiLingo, you’ll cover real-world expressions you can use in any situation right from the start. Each day, you’ll listen, speak, and repeat useful phrases and high-frequency words. As you practice, you’ll start speaking naturally, giving you the confidence to engage in any situation.