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  1. #1
    grapefruit's Avatar
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    Default How to speak spontaneously

    Hi everyone!

    This website has been a great, great help for me as a keen English learner. And this is my first time to post to ask for advice.

    I am studying English at the advance level at the moment and I believe that my knowledge of grammar and vocabulary have improved a lot as I keep studying. However when it comes to speaking, I still find myself embarassing and lost! I don't know how to explain it. In a particular situation, if a teacher throws a question at me out of the blue in a class or even when I have to do any interview in English, I just can't express myself spontaneously and end up murmuring (!)
    My friend says it is because I'm too self-conscious and have a lack of confidence. But I don't think just that is. As we know, all languages have so many different ways of expressing the same meaning. When I was a beginner, I immediately knew what to say as I had very limited sentences. But now, my brain gets easily messed up trying to find as close a word or phrase as you want to express. As I said, I'm rather slow and not extemporaneous speaker. For writing, it usually takes so much time to choose the right one among the sentences that I have written. I wonder anyone had the same problems as I have and now has got over it. Please give me a tip.
    Sorry for having drawn out my writing.

    Btw,could you spot any mistakes that I made in writing? I would be grateful if you correct me.

    Cheers.
    Hannah
    Last edited by grapefruit; 30-Jun-2009 at 10:25.

  2. #2
    Ouisch's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to speak spontaneously

    It's quite natural to have to stop and think before responding when answering a question posed to you in a second language. Your brain needs time to "digest" the foreign phrase, translate it into your native language, and then you need to mentally compose your answer in the foreign language. Even when you're fluent in a second language, the process can be difficult - I used to deal regularly with folks from the Mexican division of an automotive company as part of my job. I remember one gentleman who spoke very fluent English getting visibly weary during dinner (we'd spent the day together since about 9:00AM), and I asked him if he was OK. He replied that he was getting a headache from having to "think in English" all day.

  3. #3
    Eden Darien's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to speak spontaneously

    Hey, Iím also facing the same problem, especially when someone asking me something in English out of sudden.

    But perhaps I can share something with you. Whenever I've got to face the problem, I try to inhale a deep breath and try to make myself calm first. After that mostly it turns out to be quite well...

    Don't worry about trifles so much. Everybody (whom learnt English as a second language) facing the same thing as you do. So just keep the learning and letís move forward together...

  4. #4
    suikerbossie is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: How to speak spontaneously

    It can be helpful to read or speak out loud in English, even if you're alone. In this way you get used to hearing yourself speak a foreign language. You can correct yourself if you make mistakes, and repeat the same sentence as often as you like until it comes out naturally.

    Of course, have a ready excuse if someone thinks you've lost your mind!!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How to speak spontaneously

    Hi Hanna,

    I did see a few gramatical errors in your post. However, let me be the first to tell you that the rest of your post far outshines your errors! I'm impressed that your English is so advanced. I know people who were born right here in the United States and have attended school in this country from pre-school to college and still can't articulate themselves as well as you can. Kudos to you!!!

    P.S. - If anyone sees any errors that I've made, please feel free to let me know as well

    Thanks,

    Coco

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How to speak spontaneously

    To everyone:

    I was born here and I've never had a problem expressing myself or replying to anyone outloud. Can I give you all a hint that I've come across in my day to day routine called life?

    I noticed that one time I started hanging around people that used "slang" a lot. Meaning, they used short cuts, which is usually a sign for someone who has vocabulary issues, if you ask me. Consequently, my toungue became lax. I also started to use slang in my sentences and in situations that I wouldn't have previously.

    I started to reason with myself and ask, "Self? Why do you sound so ignorant 1/2 the time and why don't you care about your speech anymore?" After some self reflection, I decided to stop speaking as much to the people that didn't challenge my vocabulary. I actually had to change my circle of friends to keep my language "on point".

    Moral of my boring story is to tell you that perhaps you should speak to people who are more well versed and to hold lengthy conversations with them. Let them know that it's all right to correct you, as you are still learning the language. A lot of people get offended when you correct them so most people will just let you mis-speak and not say anything. I appreciate when someone corrects me because that will save me from embarassment in the future.

    Hope I've helped

    Later people!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How to speak spontaneously

    Being able to speak spontaneously comes with time, and a lot of practice. While I am a native English speaker, I have spent years studying Japanese. Even at my peak (sadly, I have lost a lot of it), I was having to run everything through my "Japanese-English filter" before I could say it. And sometimes I had to digest something that was just spoken to me.

    What I could suggest is trying to have some one-on-one speaking time with an English-speaker if possible. Part of "freezing up" can be attributed to being uneasy in front of large groups (in front of a class for example). Many students can be afraid they may say the wrong thing and be embarrassed. Speaking one-on-one can allow the student to speak more freely, and not be so worried about making mistakes.

    However, being able to speak fluently takes a long, long time (probably 5+ years of heavy study or more). And many fluent speakers are still running some kind of translations in their head.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How to speak spontaneously

    Agreed...

    Having the same problem with my Korean. My friends told me that my Korean sounds too 'cute'. Well, I am not sure about that... Compliment or something else...

    jackolantern, good luck with your Japanese. I just know some of the expressions...

    Nice to meet you (はじめまして)...

    Message for Hannah =
    안녕 하세요. 만나서 반가워요. 제가 영국 도 가고 싶은데요.
    만약 하나는 다시 한국으로 돌아가면 우린 같이 영어를 연습 합시다.
    Last edited by Eden Darien; 24-Jun-2009 at 06:22.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How to speak spontaneously

    Thank you! And as far as your friends telling you that you speak "too cute", maybe they mean that you are speaking too formally for the situation. That is a very hard part of advanced language learning; knowing when to speak "textbook" and when to speak like the average person. Of course, speaking too formally to your friends is much better than speaking too informally to an authority figure and insulting someone

  10. #10
    grapefruit's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to speak spontaneously

    Hi everyone!

    Thanks for your kind advice and I really appreciate every single comment you guys made on my post. I'll take them on board and try much harder to improve my speaking.

    Learning languages seems to be one of the hardest things for some people like me, whereas some other people appear to absorb it relatively easily.
    I wonder whether I've got a much smaller brain...as I'm not good at remembering things.

    Btw,Eden Darien! I'm very impressed by your multi-language skill. You must have a flair for languages. Good for you!
    Last edited by grapefruit; 26-Jun-2009 at 18:13.

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