Today we move from understanding English to speaking it. I will show you, with the permission of one of our German listeners, what moving to speaking English sounds like. And just to be fair, I will show you how I sound speaking German, as I move from understanding German to speaking it. If you’re at this stage of learning to speak English, it’s definitely worth listening to the end of today’s podcast.
If you have listened to my podcasts, you will know I’m also learning to speak other languages, just like you are. I’m currently working on my French language, and today I have a real treat for you as I got the chance to speak in German.
Every English language learner will get a stage where you have learned to understand basic English, but you can’t seem to speak it. It can be a really frustrating time, where you can understand native English speakers but not be able to speak English yourself. You feel you’ve hit a wall and that there’s nothing other than practice to help you get over the hump. You’re in luck. We have covered this topic before. Today you get more advice and you can listen to some real-world examples of how this transition sounds.
This podcast is all about showing you that transitioning from understanding to speaking English is possible. You are not alone. Every language learner goes through this stage at some point. Finally, the podcast will give you some suggestions on how to make the move from understanding English to actually being able to speak it.
Freeze Frustrating Anticipate Inhibition Genuine Preparation Spontaneity
Let’s talk today about the problems that many of you have with starting to speak in English. It’s quite common to get stuck being able to understand English quite well, but you just can’t speak it! Is that where you are? You can understand English, but you can’t speak? If so, today’s podcast gives you some ideas, some advice for how to move forward with your English speaking.
Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.
So one of the things that happens when you listen to spoken English - like the Adept English podcast - you get much, much better at understanding English. You get well beyond that stage of having to translate - into the stage where you can easily understand much of what’s being said. You can just let the English flow over you and you understand most of it.
There may the be odd word you don’t understand - and in podcasts I try to see, I try to anticipate which words might be difficult and give you a spelling and an explanation for these. Like ‘anticipate’, ANTICIPATE - and if you ‘anticipate’ something, you expect it, you look for it. But the point is that when you’re doing all of this, your brain stays thinking in English.
So understanding is increased massively just by listening. And if you’ve been listening to the Adept English podcast for a while, you’ll know this for yourself. You’ll know that your understanding of English improves dramatically through listening. And this listening prepares the ground for speaking English too. But there’s that step to speaking that takes a little bit more work - and not having made that step? Well, that’s why people get stuck at this stage.
So let’s talk about how you do that. All of us as language learners have had that horrible experience of being in a ‘live situation’, with someone who speaks English or French or Mandarin or whatever language it is you’re trying to learn. And we try to speak - and our brain freezes - we just can’t find the words in time. And we all remember this as a bad experience. And this perhaps interferes, stops our want to speak English. It’s awkward, it’s embarrassing if this happens - we feel we don’t want to ‘have a go’ at speaking English.
Well, this is the discomfort, this is the difficulty that you must find ways to get past. In the early days, when my sister had first moved to France, I hadn’t worked at all on my French - it came from my school days and it was unpractised. But she used to say to me that I was ‘much better at speaking French when I’d had a couple of drinks!’ - meaning when I’d had alcohol, I got over my embarrassment and had a go at speaking French anyway.
Of course, I wasn’t speaking perfect French, or necessarily even mediocre French - but I was at last speaking some French, instead of just staying silent. So that being prepared to ‘have a go’ is critical, very very important. How are you ever going to learn speaking, if you avoid doing it?! Now the reason why I was ‘better at French’ when I’d had a couple of drinks - alcohol removes what we call ‘inhibition’ - that’s INHIBITION. And our ‘inhibition’ is those feelings which stop us, which prevent us from doing something, in case we feel embarrassed or awkward.
Now I’m not suggesting for a minute that the achieving fluency has to involve alcohol! The point is more that the alcohol had the benefit of lessening my inhibition. And we language learners must find other ways to lessen our inhibitions, so that we can practise speaking English - or French or German or Mandarin!
So I wanted to share with you today a voice recording that we at Adept English received just before Christmas. It comes from a lady in Germany called Melanie - and we loved receiving this recording because it shows someone having a go and it made us smile because it’s so genuine.
You send us lots of emails, giving us your appreciation for the podcasts and the courses, telling us about your English language learning journey. And your emails are lovely! But it was really nice to actually hear one of our students speaking English. So I asked Melanie for her permission to use her voice note recording in our podcast, so that you can listen to it too.
Here it is.
I like your podcast very much. I’m very pleased that I discovered it eight months ago. And thankyou so much, it’s very helpful. And I’ve tried to speak English during the day, but it’s very...um… wait a minute! But it’s very difficult for me because..um...I don’t know so much typical words in our house for example. If I want to speak about the bathroom….the basket for the waste, then I don’t know the right word. And so….wait….and I would be happy about themes about the daily routines and …. about things in our houses and so on. And perhaps you can record some podcasts around your daily life and what you are doing the whole day in your house, perhaps.
Thankyou very much.
Now in the spirit of ‘having a go’, I thought that this voice recording deserved a reply. I can speak a bit of German, again from way back when I was in school, so I recorded a reply. My German is rusty - that means I haven’t used it for a long time, so I did need to look up a couple of words - but this recording now is me ‘having a go’ in German. My German doesn’t flow like this without a little bit of preparation, but I remember enough to make myself understood - I think! If you speak German, you can judge for yourself!
Here it is.
Hallo Melanie, danke für Ihre Sprachnotiz - wir haben es geliebt Sie zu hören und Sie haben uns zum Lächeln gebracht. Es gibt diese Momente, in denen Adept English sehr lohnend ist! Das ist auch eine gute Idee für einen Podcast. Es gibt viele Möglichkeiten - ich könnte durch mein Haus gehen und die Wörter für Alltagsgegenstände verwenden! Das war ein neues Wort für mich! Alltagsgegenstände! Es war schön, Sie Englisch sprechen zu hören - schön Englisch auch! Und jetzt versuche ich, mit Ihnen Deutsch zu sprechen. Ich habe viele Schwerigkeiten….mit daβ, aber versuchen ist gut!
Alles Gute für jetzt!
So I’m sharing these recordings with you - to show that it’s not important for you to speak perfect English - it is fine if you pause, if you make mistakes, if you mispronounce. Melanie says ‘Wait….’ quite a few times in her recording - and that’s great, because she’s giving herself time, she’s waiting for the words to arrive. And it’s just a bit slower because she’s speaking English - and that’s not her native language.
A photo of old red British telephone boxes. For every English language learner, there comes a time when you understand basic English but you can't speak it. It's frustrating, and today's English listening podcast is going to help you make the transition.
I’m sure it doesn’t happen when she’s speaking German, of course. But everybody listening can understand why she says that, can understand the process. We can identify with Melanie.
So be enthused by hearing other people having a go! If you hear people who speak really good English as a second language - they too had to pass through this stage. They once were like you at speaking English. The difference is that they ‘had a go’ and they carried on ‘having a go’. They made themselves continue to speak English.
They got over the feelings of awkwardness and embarrassment and they practised. And little by little, all those hours and hours of listening to spoken English began to be available to the speaking part of their brain. And they became more and more fluent. Exactly where you want to be! And if you’ve done the preparation of lots and lots of listening and your understanding of the language is good - then the step towards speaking is much shorter.
My childminder - that’s the lady who looked after my children when I was working and they were too young to go to school - she used to talk about how her son didn’t speak English when he was 2 years old. They were worried about him - he clearly understood the words, but hardly said anything at all.
Then when he was 3 years old, he suddenly started to speak in full sentences and they stopped having to worry. He was just unusual in how he learned to speak, but maybe he was doing what you’re doing. He was listening and listening and listening and storing up all kinds of words and vocabulary. And then once he decided he was ready to speak, he got going really quickly - no waiting around for him. Straight to full sentences. It was just waiting for him to make that decision to start to speak.
So maybe it’s time for you to make that decision to start to speak? Your speaking won’t be perfect, you’ll make mistakes, you’ll pause and speak slowly, you’ll have to pause for the words to come. And sometimes you’ll forget the right words. But what was so charming and lovely and what touched us about Melanie’s recording - she didn’t wait until she could speak English perfectly before getting in touch. She didn’t practise or do big preparations so that her recording was perfect. She made a recording which reflected her ability to speak English as it was - and she allowed herself to take the time and to wait for the words to come.
In English, when something is genuine and spontaneous like this, we call it ‘off the cuff’. So thankyou Melanie for that. We like your genuineness and spontaneity and we thought allowing other people to hear you speak would be an inspiration to them.
Don’t forget - if you really want to get busy and do a lot of English language listening, you can go to our website to download hundreds of our podcasts - and make a really massive improvement to your English language learning. Go to our website at adeptenglish.com, click on our Courses page - and ‘Build your own Megabundle’.
That means a big, big bundle or selection of podcasts. And you can choose which ones you want to download. Every language learner needs a bundle of Adept English podcasts on their mobile phone, so that you can just keep on getting better and better at English with all that listening!
And hopefully this podcast will inspire you to get speaking too!
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at adeptenglish.com