Impress Your Friends By Talking To Yourself

Do you ever freeze before replying to someone because you don’t know what to say?

Or, do you avoid speaking to people, so you don’t have to use English?

I know how it feels – I was the same (in another language). But I figured out a solution.

So, if you have ever felt lost, scared or nervous about speaking English, don’t worry! By the end of this post, you’ll have a good idea of how to improve the way that you use English.

I’m going to tell you the story of how I impressed my friends by talking to myself, and how (and why!) you can do the same.

Oh, and I’ve got an awesome surprise for you at the end, too! Something that you REALLY don’t want to miss!

Let’s get started

 

The story starts back when I was a first year university student. My university offered free language courses to full time students, so I decided to do something I had always wanted to do: study Japanese.

I already had some Japanese language experience, but this was my chance to take it seriously! I bought the textbooks and I was ready to work.

I did my homework and I went to class. I even did some extra grammar and writing practice outside of class. The first half a year I made some great progress.

But that’s when I started losing motivation. I was spending less time studying and more time doing other things. It wasn’t long until I started to get bored of the textbooks and the generic “look, cover, write, check, repeat” method of learning vocabulary.

I needed something more enjoyable. I needed to use the Japanese that I was learning.Talking to people is more fun

So I joined the Japanese society at my university (good idea, right?), and made some Japanese friends. But there was another problem; it was just too easy to use my first language.

In fact, I was embarrassed about speaking Japanese! If you’re a member of the English For Study newsletter, you will have seen the email where I said:

“I spent more time thinking about what I was going to say rather than listening to the people I was talking to.”

Have you ever done that? Do you know what that feels like? Basically, someone talks, and you’re thinking so much about what you’re going to say, that you just say “あー そうですか”? – “ah is that so?”

Students, that is not the way to improve your speaking ability in any language!

I decided that I wanted to have real conversations in Japanese AND enjoy them. I made a goal and a plan.

I wanted people to say to me, “Sam, your Japanese is really good!”

It took me about a year or so to get to the point where I could actually tell a joke in Japanese (unfortunately, I’ve forgotten the joke now!). I used a combination of different strategies to help me do it.

Today, you’re going to learn one of the key strategies that I used. This strategy helped me to become more comfortable with speaking, and it will help you too.

What did I do?

Basically, I started talking to myself aloud. That’s right – I was the weird guy who talked to himself.

Before you start judging me, imagine:Talking to yourself

  • Feeling more confident when speaking
  • Using words that you know without thinking
  • Responding to questions quickly
  • Speaking more fluently
  • Not translating in your head as much
  • Understanding how conversations in English work
  • Having your own voice
  • Always having something to say
  • Knowing the gaps in your language

This is what happened to me when I started talking to myself in Japanese AND it can happen to you in English, too. Honestly, talking to yourself is not as weird as you may think. You actually talk to yourself silently all the time.

For example, you talk to yourself when you’re deciding what to wear, or when you’re writing a shopping list… or when it’s 2AM and you’re in the middle of writing an essay which you haven’t saved for a few hours and your computer crashes…

You’d probably have a lot of things to say if that happened. (Tip: save your work often)

I started talking to myself in Japanese whenever I was doing something alone. Sometimes I planned topics to talk about, other times I just talked about what was in my mind. And I didn’t just talk about what I was doing, I also asked myself questions.

After a while, I was talking without thinking too much. I was just talking. Success!

And, yes, someone eventually told me: “Sam, your Japanese is pretty good.”

How to Start Talking

Honestly, you’ve probably tried talking to yourself before, but it didn’t really work for you. This could be due to two factors:

  1. You didn’t practice enough – the saying is: consistency is key.
  2. You didn’t have a plan of action.

I can’t really help you with the first one – unless I called you every day to do it (that would be pretty expensive!), but I can help you with the second one…

Follow this plan of action:

Note: move on to the next step when you feel comfortable.

  1. Start small and talk about things that you see in front of you
  2. Talk about what you’re doing
  3. Then, you can start talking about what you’re going to do or want to do
  4. Talk about abstract or complex topics
  5. Ask yourself questions & give your opinions (WARNING: only do this when you’re alone!)
Talking to yourself works

Here’s an example of what this plan of action would be like:

  1. Start small: 1-2 weeks:
    “this is a pen. It’s a great pen. The pen is on my desk with my paper and computer. What’s in the fridge? Some milk and eggs. How old are these eggs?”
  2. What you’re doing: 1-2 weeks:
    “I’m lying on the bed and I’m checking Facebook. I’m getting ready to go out. I’m cooking an omelette.”
  3. Going to do or Want to do: 1-2 weeks:
    I’m going to call my friends later. I’m going to buy a new game tomorrow. I really want to see that new movie.”
  4. Abstract/ complex: 1-2 weeks:
    “I’m really enjoying this course because the teacher is interesting. British people love to stand in queues. If I read two chapters of this book, I’ll get some cake.”
  5. Questions & opinions: 1-2 weeks:
    “Sam, where would you like to go on holiday? Oh, that’s a great question, Sam – I think I’d like to go to Egypt. Egypt, why Egypt? Hmm, I really want to see the pyramids in person.”

Of course, speaking to myself wasn’t the only strategy that I used. It was just one of a few that I used to develop my Japanese conversation skills. I used other strategies to learn vocabulary, practice listening and study grammar.

And I want to share these with you, too.

I told you at the start of the article that there would be a really cool surprise that you didn’t want to miss. Here it is:

If you’re serious about improving your English speaking skills – I mean REALLY serious – then join my FREE live event. In the event, I’ll teach you the strategies that I used to go from a beginner to conversational in less than a year. You can and should use these strategies in your English to make you a better speaker and listener.

Interested?

Click here to register for the live English For Study event for free!

Event starts in:

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Be quick though, this event will be LIVE (and it might not be repeated)!

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About the Author Sam

Sam is the founder and creator of English For Study. He's also lecturer in EAP/Academic English. Apart from making Academic English easy, he likes learning languages, lifting weights and eating good food.

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