Does the idea of having a discussion in a foreign language with a native speaker make you cringe? Do you lack the confidence to express yourself in English or any other language? All you need is probably a little practice. But how can you practise this aspect of the language in between sessions with your 1to1PROGRESS trainer? Not everyone has a language partner to talk to. Don’t worry, we have a magic technique to improve your speaking skills by yourself… and it may surprise you!
Improve your speaking skills: our secret method
Imitate to express more effectively
Imitation. This is the key to better oral expression, whatever the language you are learning.
The aim is not to make you a professional imitator, but to improve your speaking skills in all aspects of the language:
- pronunciation, of course, and also;
- the rhythm of sentences and the musicality of the language;
- the accent, if the language you are learning has several accents;
- the richness of the vocabulary;
- the construction of sentences…
In short, this is an ultra-complete exercise that will enable you to work on all the points mentioned above. As a bonus, imitation develops your listening skills (and therefore your listening comprehension). Yes, in order to repeat the sentences you hear, you must first listen carefully to them!
How do you implement this technique?
A simple repetition exercise is not enough. Imitation is an art 😉
When you come across an interesting dialogue in a movie in your target language, replay it.
Put yourself in the shoes of the character who inspires you the most and repeat what he or she says, imitating :
- their intonations;
- the rhythm of their speech;
- and even the intention of the script.
If the character is angry and yells, you can yell too! If they are happy and jumping around, do the same. You have to do more than just convey what you hear, you have to experience it. Don’t be afraid to overact a little, or even to go overboard with the caricature. The important thing is that you have fun with this exercise and enjoy working on your oral expression.
Don’t worry, you can do this exercise alone. You won’t have to worry about other people looking at you, so just let yourself go!
The benefits of imitation when learning to speak a language better
We learn most things through imitation. This is how you learned your mother tongue, for example, by listening to and reproducing the words and phrases spoken by your parents.
When you imitate a person speaking in your target language, you are doing more than just repeating sounds: you are making their language your own and putting it into practice directly.
Without realising it, you are also learning vocabulary and using a variety of complex sentence structures. This will help you later on to construct and express your ideas more easily.
What’s more, it’s a technique that works for any language: English, Dutch, Italian…
How can you get more out of this exercise?
Take it to the next level
Imitation is the first level of the game of improving your speaking skills. There is a second level that you can attempt to progress even faster.
This consists of modifying the dialogues that you are imitating, to practice vocabulary, expressions or idioms that you have recently learnt.
Let’s take an example. Let’s say that, during your lesson with your English trainer, you learned:
- the words
- “to attend“
- and the idioms
- “it’s not like him/her“
- e “rush to somewhere“
Here is how you can make your imitation exercise even more meaningful.
John: Tom wasn’t there this morning for our daily meeting. He left 5 minutes before it started, without telling why…
Linda: I’ve been told that his wife called and he had to go to the hospital. I hope this is nothing serious!
John: Tom did not attend our weekly meeting today. He left 5 minutes before it started. It’s not like him to leave without telling why !
Linda: I’ve been told that his wife called and that he rushed to the hospital. I hope this is nothing serious!*
*Don’t worry, Tom and his wife are fine. They went to the hospital for a happy event: the birth of their granddaughter 😉
This will help you to improve your expression while assimilating the vocabulary learnt during your lessons. Killing two birds with one stone while having fun… you can’t refuse that!
Of course, speaking with a native speaker is essential to improve your oral expression. But with the imitation technique, you’ll have the best chance to achieve this faster and more comfortably. You can use this method to gain confidence and fool your teacher during your next discussion in the language you are learning.