When learning a new language, you begin with that more accessible phase of starting to understand some of the words and start reading or writing at an entry level in that language. Then, there’s the advancement into the conversational phase of language that allows you to speak multiple sentences at a time. For those that are learning, this is usually where they end up.
There’s a massive plateau where it’s hard to make that jump from conversational to fluent, and it can be frustrating. If you find yourself as one of the millions that have been stuck here and are trying to become fluent, here are five tips that can help you reach your goals.
There are some rough estimates that only around half of people have the ability to do an inner monologue. This is when you can hear your own voice in your head without actually speaking, leading to extensive lines of thought. For almost everyone, this inner voice comes from our native language, but it can be trained to mix things up.
Try using that voice in the language that you’re trying to become fluent in. You’ll be able to spot your errors without saying anything out loud. Being able to correct yourself before saying anything will lead to a more advanced grasp of the language and everything will flow much better in conversation.
4. Stop Using the Same Sentences
When many of us are learning a new language, we tend to stick to some familiar phrases. For instance, those that are learning Spanish might think of “Donde esta la biblioteca” or something along those lines. These familiar pieces of dialogue only serve as a crutch to use when you can’t think of anything else.
The best course of action is to forget these pieces of familiar grammar or dialogue exist and instead try to get out of your comfort zone. You’ll eventually learn when and where to use these new pieces of dialogue and you’ll become fluent in the language. To practice this, try writing down the new things that you’ve learned.
3. Use Your Ears and Eyes
You could learn how to write in a language and become an expert at it in just a short amount of time, but that doesn’t always translate into being able to speak the language. The vice versa of this is true, as well. Instead of focusing on one at a time, try to increase your verbal and written aptitude at the same time.
To do this, listen to audio where a transcript in the same language is available. If you’re reading what is being said at the same time, your brain will get a firmer grasp of the language overall and how it’s used. Once you get the hang of things, you can simply listen without needing the transcript.
2. Take Tests
Thankfully, there are many options to take proficiency tests in just about every language around the world. You can do these practice tests to see where you’re at in your learning while also finding out where your trouble spots are. A lot of people give up on becoming proficient because they don’t know what they’re doing wrong.
Practice tests are a window into your knowledge, and once you know where to improve, you can tackle that area of language. You may find that you’re getting your verbs wrong or perhaps the emphasis. Either way, knowledge is the most powerful tool, especially if it’s knowledge of how to improve.
1. Use Varying Sources
When you’re speaking in English and interacting with people that have different dialects and accents, you’ll pick up on the full scope of the language better. The same is true for every language, so it’s important to not use just one source. Education tools for language are often monotone and really only give you one way to speak.
Interacting with people with different accents and watching different videos in that language is a great way to mix things up. Not only are you picking up on different forms of dialect, but it’s also far less boring than the standard educational tools that are commonly used.