How I Learn To Speak Foreign Languages Without Talking To People | Polyglot Language Learning Tips

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hey everybody

happy wednesday good news i have got

just the most splendid cup of coffee

today i pulled the perfect shot

so well balanced have i ever told you

how much i love coffee

ah so over the years and especially over

the last few months

so many people have noticed and pointed

out in the comments

how when i learn languages i actually


do a lot of speaking to native speakers

i don't

go out there and aggressively you know

create opportunities to speak i don't

usually use online tutors or

you know fine language exchange partners

it's just not something i do a lot of

right and so many of you have

rightly pointed this out and asked so

how do you

develop these speaking skills in

different languages

if you're not practicing talking to


on a regular basis and so i thought this

would be a really cool video to talk


you know why i typically don't

do that a lot until later on and of

course more importantly

talk about how how i still develop

pretty strong speaking skills mostly by


so that later on when the opportunities

come organically

i'm ready and i can really engage in

some fantastic conversations with native

speakers and just other

people who speak the language that's all

coming up of course if you enjoy this

video please do give it a like and

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the description


okay so first of all i want to really

quickly explain that

you know speaking to native speakers or

other people who speak the language it's

not something that

i avoid right so i don't actively or


avoid speaking to people it's just that

i don't

you know create those opportunities

myself i don't book

online tutors i don't use apps that

can help me find exchange partners and

the primary reason for this is honestly

that i've always just

found that i can be really independent

when it comes to developing

that kind of really basic level of

fluency i always talk about how for me

fluency is a really wide spectrum and

there are many many levels of fluency

so when i say that like really basic

level i'm talking about

getting to the point where you can

freely express yourself right

there'll be mistakes you're going to get

stuck sometimes but you can express your


you can talk to people and if you get


you can typically find a way to still

express your idea

one way or another and so yeah when i

was learning japanese there was an

interesting situation where i was a

student at

university i was learning japanese and

we had like

five exchange students from japan

and what happened back then is that like

every person it seemed in the whole

japanese department

was like i would say aggressively

trying to like find these five japanese

exchange students

all the time and like trying to practice

japanese with them

and i always felt weird about that

because in my opinion you know

these people came here to learn english

they're here to practice

english it's a once-in-a-lifetime

opportunity they're students here for a

whole year

it's really special and so if i meet one

of these people

organically i'm more inclined to

try to help them with their english or

just talk to them as a normal person in


right i'm not gonna try to force them to

speak japanese with me

and the funny thing is that most people

in the japanese department at my


basically nobody could even converse in


and so on one hand it's like you're

aggressively trying to find these

five people who can speak japanese but


you're not even able to have a proper

conversation with them anyway

and so i just made a decision at the


that i i would just try to develop those

skills by myself

and i i knew that once my japanese


pretty good and i was conversational i

knew that those opportunities would come

and when they did i'd be ready i'd be

able to actually

engage and that actually did happen

later on in my university years

i kind of ended up being the guy that

you know exchange students would

come to when they needed help and when

they were just exhausted of speaking

english and they wanted someone

that could speak japanese with them and

who they could express themselves

naturally with and we had some wonderful


and we really bonded over you know

discussing the struggles of living

abroad things like that

so that's when it all started and the

same thing happened in french italian

basically every language i've learned

i've always just developed my speaking

skills pretty independently

and because again the thing that i

really look forward to

when it comes to speaking to other

people in a foreign language

i look forward to those really genuine


moments of again like discussion and

like bonding over sharing experiences


you know all these things that really

happen later on right they really happen

once you at least have the ability to

engage and converse with somebody and so

yeah i that's what i look forward to and

i just have a lot of patience for

that happening and prior to that

i'm pretty content talking to myself

practicing on my own

and building up those skills and it's

kind of a thing that like i said i look

forward to it because i know

the i'm gonna be ready one day when i

get the chance

but again if i get opportunities that

organically just pop up i'm more than


to speak with people it's just not

something that i aggressively go after

so let's talk a little bit about

how i personally do this right how do i

go about developing speaking skills

without actually talking to a person

well the first thing is and this is

going to seem kind of obvious but

i am constantly constantly repeating


out loud from basically day one so if

i'm doing an

app if i'm doing a textbook that's got

like audio

whatever it is if there's an example

sentence or a dialogue

anything i am just constantly repeating

the language and really trying my best

to focus on

you know pronunciation rhythm intonation

even things like tonality even

things like emotion right like is


angry in the dialogue are they upset are

they happy

i want to really try to mimic all these


but the next thing i do and this is

where it starts to become very powerful


developing speaking skills is that very

early i

start to manipulate those example

sentences and so

if the sentence is you know i

would like to have lunch then i'll do my


to first of all repeat that sentence but


to change it right so i would like to

eat dinner or

i don't want to eat dinner because i

already ate

right like anything i can do right to me

it's an

opportunity to just practice whatever

i have and it can be just changing the

verb tense it could be

using the passive voice if i know how to

do that i'm just

constantly repeating and manipulating

sentences as much as i can very early on

and so even that starts to give me

this comfort in

producing my own sentences now of course

then we start to get into dialogues

right so maybe there are dialogues in a

textbook or an app and stuff

same thing i'll try to go through the

dialogue but then maybe i'll try to do

it a second time

but i'll try to change one of the

characters lines right i'll try to just

substitute myself

in and do things like that right see if

i can completely change the story

so that's a very basic thing that i do

early on but i do think it's very

powerful and that starts me on this

journey of becoming an independent


in a language about speaking to people

now the next thing i do

is i do actually engage in

sort of drills right for substitution

exercises right so

i will always try to become very


saying a lot of things with a little bit

of language right so

in the beginning i'm not trying to learn

a thousand verbs a thousand

nouns or ten thousand this or whatever


it's amazing how much you can say

we have a pretty small list of nouns

verbs adjectives conjunctions whatever


it's kind of incredible because if you

learn how to say

i want to eat and then if you learn to

say i want to go

and if you learn a few words like

restaurant but

afterwards already like it's a pretty

small selection of words

all of a sudden you can say well i want

to go and eat at the restaurant but

i already ate a couple of hours ago so

i'll eat later

like there's not a lot of complexity

there and i find that what takes a long

time for many people

is people get very good at saying very

very short sentences very very short

phrases because typically that's what


seeing in these apps and these textbooks

and these courses

very often people struggle with saying

longer more complex sentences but again

very often the individual pieces of

those sentences

are quite simplistic but you just need

a good amount of these sort of connector

words or conjunctions or

different things like this and i find

that a lot of it it's just

simply practice but i find that the best

way to do that for me

is first of all to be outputting these

things and to kind of drill them

right and so i'll say i'll just try to

see how many different ways can i


a single sentence how many words can i

substitute in

so i do a lot of that but to be honest

all this is really just

in preparation for what really starts to

get interesting which is when i do begin

speaking to myself now the first thing i

want to do here is i would like to

reframe this

many people are uncomfortable with the


of talking to themselves but if you

think about it it's not that different

than when you think to yourself right

when you're thinking to yourself it's

very similar to

talking to yourself it's just your

inside voice

so what i like to think of it as is

thinking out loud right that's all it is

i'm gonna start

thinking out loud in the language i'm


and i find that this framing is a lot

more comfortable for people because

we think to ourselves every single day

all the time right and so it's a much

more familiar

idea so one thing you can do if this is

still a bit uncomfortable

is try it in your native language so you

could start by

just thinking out loud in english for

example if you're an english speaker

like me

and then try to do the same thing in

french or japanese whatever language

you're learning

it's a good exercise to just get


with the idea of thinking out loud in a

new language

but there's a lot more to it than this

so the first level for me

is pretty basic stuff it's describing my

surroundings how did my day go

things like this but i want to focus

more on what's after that because many

people that tell you to talk to yourself

that's where they stop right but there's

a secret

key in my opinion or there are two keys

one is emotion

and one is opinion and they of course

these two things are

deeply intertwined what i like to do

is i'll take anything that i have an

emotional attachment to

in terms of content right so this could

be a tv show

that's in english it doesn't have to be

in a foreign language

it could be a book it could be a video

game anything it could be a current


happening in your country's you know

political system whatever it is but i

find that stories are best

because they tend to have this rich

context built up around them so what i

like to do

is i'll take my favorite book my

favorite movie my favorite tv show

and i'll watch either a whole episode or

just even a piece of an episode

and i'll start to think about okay

what's my opinion

how do i feel what do i think is the

point of this episode because

most tv shows most movies most books

they have a message right they're trying

to tell you something so

what is that and i find that this is an

incredibly powerful way to start

actually getting speaking practice with

myself as i start to think about

okay so how would i tell this

episode how would i tell this story from

the perspective of a different character

you know how would i get inside the head


you know this other person and what

would their perspective be

and so you know many things start with

i think that you know and you start just

basically expressing your opinion on

things that have happened and you use

this idea of manipulation right and so

you manipulate the story you change the

perspective you

you know honestly it's quite remarkable

how deeply you can get into a discussion

with yourself when you start

not just making it very boring like well

my day was good

i went to school i ate lunch no

as soon as you can i would move on from

that and i would

start engaging with genuine

thoughtful discussion about what do you

think what do you feel right or again

how did that person feel how would she

have felt

if the story were told from her


it's kind of incredible and you'll find

that this

very closely mimics those types of

conversations that you would like to

have with a person one day

because a lot of what we do is we tell

stories we express our opinions

we connect with people on an emotional

level we maybe someone tells us a story

and then we say

we tell a story from our own lives that

is similar

right you can get a lot of that practice

and it's great because you can do so by

engaging with content you love

like i said it could be tv show movie

drama in your native language

or in a language you're learning it

doesn't matter um

and yeah i just find this to be really

really powerful

and like i said this helps me to become

a very independent speaker

and so what happens is inevitably i come


words i don't know how to say i come

across expressions or

things that i'm not sure how to express

and so i write those things down

and i make it my mission to find out how

can i say those in a natural way

and then i come back the next time more


and i really like this because it's a


safe space i'm not scared of making

mistakes because

it's just me no one else is around right

i can even record myself

and then listen back to it i always hear

a lot of my own mistakes and it's really

powerful for helping

not make the same mistake again there's

just so much you can do here there's so

much you can do

and it's quite enjoyable and i don't

know i just find that

this has been so powerful and effective

for me

and so yeah i can usually always develop

a decent enough speaking

level so that when i do encounter people

in real life

and i start to get all these

opportunities i'm ready and then that's

when my speaking skills really

start to grow okay everybody i hope that

was helpful

it's kind of a strange topic i don't

know i feel like people don't

talk about it very much and i feel like

people are often hesitant

to engage in this but to me it's so

liberating to know that i can get a

tutor right i can go and find an

exchange partner

i don't necessarily need to and i can

develop some really really powerful

speaking skills by myself

so that one day when i decide it's time

i can go out and find

all kinds of opportunities to speak and

actually have really genuine authentic

interactions hope you have a wonderful

wednesday and i'll see you back here on