Tyler: Hey Gabriel how’s it going? Tyler here.
Would you have some tips for improving conversational skills you know I feel like when I’m trying to speak Spanish I just get pretty tongue-tied and I can’t even remember, you know, what I’ve learned so I would really prefer tips that don’t involve just going and trying to speak since I’m at a pretty basic level still. So preferably exercises I can do, you know, just on my own or with a language exchange partner.
Gabriel: So yeah I totally understand it’s nice to try to build a basis before engaging in conversation and having chats in the language that you’re learning. So I suggest you do this: write down a few sentences about yourself in English, okay?
Including why you’re studying Spanish, why you like the language. Focus on writing down sentences that you would really use in conversation things that you really want say, ideas that you want to express. They can be really basic at first but in the long run they can become more complex and you can keep doing this process.
Then, what you want to try to do is get them translated into Spanish. If you’re at the level where you can translate them yourself that’s great! If you still can’t, get some help from a tutor, from a language exchange partner, a teacher, or a translator. Once you got a good translation, what I suggest you do is get some audio files. Get some native speaker to actually record those sentences for you, you can break them down and whatever we want maybe just sentence by sentence perhaps.
And my suggestion is for you to get a slow version and a faster version just because native speakers can just speak really fast if you only have an audio file in which they’re speaking really fast it may be hard to study from it, so now that you have the translation for the sentences what you can do is just study them. You have the audio files, you can listen to them several times. The slow version first perhaps and then the fast version and take your time studying them. I really suggest though that you don’t just memorize them. So you can use these sentences to study Spanish sentence structure for example, you can learn new vocabulary then what you can do to study them further is actually start creating variations of the sentences.
If you’re still really basic level you can actually have a tutor or a language exchange partner help you with that process. As you progress in Spanish what you can keep doing is that you can keep writing these sentences down, things that you want to express in Spanish get them translated and learn them. Of course that if you just know how to say the things that you’ve memorized, you may not go too far conversation, you’re just not going to understand what people are saying for listening comprehension it’s really important to do a lot of listening (a lot of listening), especially with audio that also has a text with it. Websites like LingQ offer that, and it’s great for you to listen to a lot of audio maybe at a basic level first then challenge yourself with some more intermediate content and if you have the text as well. It’s great to listen to audio and the later study the text. So first you can focus on the listening then later you can study the text and whatever you don’t understand you can look it up and study it carefully.
And of course as you progress, you can listen to the radio you can listen to other things both actively and passively, and by actively I mean just really sitting down and trying to understand every single word but sometimes it’s nice to take a step back and listen to things a little more passively as well. Have in the background, have some Spanish radio in the background and take your time. So I hope these tips help and good luck with conversational Spanish!