Build confidence in foreign languages - get speaking!

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Build Confidence in Foreign Languages - Get Speaking!
We all remember sitting in French classes during secondary school, learning how to tell your friends that you have 8 cats, 6 dogs and 2 budgies. You might wonder why certain words and phrases stick in your mind (Qu'elle-est la date de ton annivesaire anyone?) and others you've completely forgotten since your early language-learning days. 

Quite often, this is because in beginners classes most vocabulary you learn is repeated aloud, and used in set phrases countless times. As a keen language learner to this day, I always found it curious that importance of speaking in class died away after a few years. When I reached a stage when I should've been able to string a sentence togther both on paper and verbally, I found it all so intimidating having to speak! 

Had my language teachers placed heavier emphasis on speaking to our classmates and understanding what we were saying instead of memorising reems of text for our speaking exams, I wouldn't have found the leap to actual conversation so strange. I'm 99% sure I'm not alone here in my experience!

Although I graduated in French and Spanish in July 2017, as thought, my speaking efforts have nosedived considerably. Working full-time in London doesn't leave much time to get out there and practise with natives. London is a big place and it can feel like a minefield to find people to meet up for a natter. I've found that when I'm confident speaking a foreign language, every other skill falls into place. It's the hardest leap to make but boy does it improve your fluency and understanding of the language.

Recently, I tried out The French Room* - a wonderful online-based teaching service that tackles this challenge head on. Ellie is the brains behind the business, who provides tailor-made French classes over Skype, either individually or in groups. I was anxious to practise with a French teacher again after what felt like a lifetime away from uni!

In our hour-long Skype lesson, I felt like I was chatting to an old friend, Ellie was so warm and friendly from the offset. I told her in slightly rusty French about my experience of language learning until now, and how often I'd been able to chat to French natives recently (clue: hardly at all). Since I'm nosy as hell, I was keen to know how she'd gotten into teaching online classes and her experience teaching French. 

Build Confidence in Foreign Languages - Get Speaking!

Ellie first began learning French about 25 years ago, when she moved to work and live in France. She then continued to use her skills throughout her career, even working as a wine buyer for Tesco! She has taught French for over 4 years, and I loved to hear that through her online classes, she'd finally found her lifelong passion.

The most lovely thing was that I could see her enthusiasm shine through during the class, something language learners will not always experience during school or even university. When we feel that our teachers care, we care more about learning from them. Throughout my class, Ellie gave me some tips, a few notes on my grammar, and some wonderful recommendations for books and podcasts to get stuck into to keep my language upkeep going!

We chatted and laughed as I slowly gained some confidence again in speaking. It gave me a real boost, and this would work for any level of language learner. As we discussed, the best way to make progress with any language is to get stuck in with speaking - the grammar and fluency, but most importantly, the confidence comes later!  

The French Room also offers a gift experience for friends, family or partners - perfect for any keen language learners, whether complete beginners or advanced. 

I came away from Ellie's lesson much more confident and inspired to make a better effort to practise more regularly. I would thoroughly recommend! Are you learning any languages? What makes you feel the most confident to progress? Tell me below!

Thanks for reading!

*This is a collaboration post, written in exchange for a trial lesson with Ellie. To find out more, see my disclaimer.

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