Making the transition from comprehension to production

lucent   Wed Oct 17, 2007 4:28 am GMT
Like a lot of intermediate learners, I can read fairly well in my target language(s). I can also understand the spoken language if it is spoken slowly and clearly (like a newscast). But I feel like a rank beginner when it comes to producing, especially speaking.

I'd appreciate hearing from others who went from input to output. Did output just "emerge" gradually as your comprehension got better and better? Or did you have to practice? And if you practiced, what did you do? (Especially if there was a lack of native speakers to practice with.) Talk to yourself? Read texts aloud? Memorize dialogues? Spend a lot of time writing?

As I'm probably not the only person at this stage, answers from successful learners would be most helpful.
zatsu   Wed Oct 17, 2007 4:43 pm GMT
For me it just "emerged".

I used to listen to a lot of music and watch many movies and TV shows. Unconsciously, I was absorbing a lot of expressions and getting used to informal speech.
Even though I didn't practice by then, when I got the chance, things just came naturally.

Think it's normal to feel insecure when you don't know what level you are in, or if it sounds strange to others, but soon you will get the hang of it^^
Participating in forums on the internet also helps a lot, specially if there are native people from the target language, as you are able to see in writing how they usually express themselves, the words chosen and so on.

But the better thing to do is probably listening, paying attention and trying to understand. Don't worry about producing anything yet if you can't keep up with the conversation.
Good luck!!
Bruno   Sat Oct 20, 2007 12:58 pm GMT
Je vis dans un endroit presque exclusevement francophone au Québec (Canada), si on exclut une ou des chaînes de télévision si on a le câble ou le satellite.

Ma maîtrise de l'anglais parlé est donc passable et parfois médiocre.

Les moments où je m'exprimais le mieux en anglais furent à la fin de mon éducation secondaire et au niveau collégial, quand j'étais tuteur en anglais et que je devais parler à chaque semaine en anglais avec les gens que j'aidais.

I live in a place which is francophone and I don't have many opportunities to speak one of my second languages, English, often.

(I still read and listen to English alot, thanks to Internet?)

So my speaking goes from fine to really bad, depending on how long I have bein without speaking it and what' the conversation subject.

The parts of my life I was the most confident and intelligible in English was at the end of my english courses in High School, and at College (somewhat University 1st years for you - different school system - ), because I was doing peer tutoring for other students. I used to speak only English with them, so speaking 2 hours per week helped me alot to gain confidence and words would come up in my mind more easily.

So I would recommand you keep reading and listening to the language you are learning, and try to speak it (even alone if you have to! and yes, memorizing and reading aloud helps) as much as you want so it becomes more natural for you.

Remember that in other languages you will often ask your mouth to form sounds that it's not used to. You will have to practice to make the sound in your head get out of your mouth the correct way.

Also I recall from my peer tutoring courses that speaking is the last thing you master in a language. It is also the 1st capacity that you loose if you don't practice. (I refer as learning a second language in an academic context.)

So good luck in learning and praticing your second language.