I really want to start speaking, but is it too early?

MarkE us United States

I have been learning French and German close to everyday for the past year and a half, And I have done zero speaking in either language. Language learning for me these past 2 months has become really boring and has completely lost its spark. I think its because all I do is read and listen and I never actually try to talk to a native speaker and use the language. I have this belief in my mind that I have to have at least 30K known words on LingQ before I should even begin booking lessons on italki.

How many words do you wait to have on LingQ until you start scheduling lessons?

July 19 在 15:58
  • evgueny40 ru Russian Federation

    As a language teacher, I believe that to know 1000 words is enough to start tallking.

    You needn't know 30K words to talk on general topics.

    It will be quite difficult the first 10 conversations, but after that it will be much easier.

    It's interesting but if you know 1000 words or 50K words - it doesn't matter, the first 10 conversations will be yet difficult like first steps of a child.

    Good luck!

    July 19 在 16:35
  • iancurry us United States

    I waited until I was at 10k words in French before speaking, and I think I definitely waited too long. Once you can understand the majority of a podcast or something similar, it's probably a good time to start speaking.

    Initially, I only did 1 or 2 italki sessions/week and didn't see much progress. Finally, I scheduled lessons for 5 consecutive days (Monday-Friday) and felt like the consistent practice made my speaking progress take off.

    I'd highly recommend going for it and schedule at least 5 consecutive days of sessions and note how much smoother the fifth lesson is compared to the first.

    Keep in mind, you really can't avoid struggling and feeling stupid the first few times. It's unavoidable. Just keep going.

    July 19 在 16:51
  • marcossfernandes br Brazil

    I want to know the same thing...

    July 19 在 17:40
  • tuv se 瑞典

    At this point you should be able to understand most of what the other person is saying, which is most important anyways. Express yourself in the simplest way and then move on from there. I´m quite happy with listening to people talk while mostly saying "um, yes, oh really? that´s nice..." and so on, as long as I actually understand them.

    July 19 在 18:05
  • octopusbuddy us United States

    I practice speaking 3 or 4 times a week with language partners and I am still a beginner in Chinese (about 2500 words). Being an English speaker makes language exchange very easy since there are a lot of people learning English and their ability is usually pretty good. Even though I struggle to communicate at all in Chinese I am still able to have productive language exchanges using English as a common language to fill in what cant be communicated in Chinese. I find that it keeps me motivated and helps me avoid bad pronunciation habits. As a bonus I have been able to learn a lot of useful study tips from more advanced language learners.

    July 19 在 19:20
  • ftornay es Spain

    I absolutely agree with Evgueny. You don't have to wait for anything, you can start talking from (almost) day one. On the other hand, you _don't have to_. I think all of this discussion about when to speak is an exercise in fanaticism. Discussion about language learning (as many other topics) seems to me a succession of silly, oversimplified and fear-inducing misconceptions interspersed with sensible, nuanced and fact-based ideas. As in many other cases the former get most of the attention and the latter go often unnoticed. The misconceptions, by their very nature, tend to oscillate between two different, equally naon-sensical extremes. Conversation often goes like this:

    - Misconception number one: "You wanna learn a language? Just go to the country and get immersed. That's what expatriate/immigrant children do. My uncle/aunt/cousin/friend.... speaks perfect Zarkoshian. Never studied anything, just started speaking. Orr hey! get a native bf/gf ! What better way to learn? Hehehehehe! So intimate! What are you saying? You don't feel like speaking just yet? Then you'll never learn you got to develop social skills, more than anything, ...." (goes on and on)

    - Sensible, nuanced response, based on research and experience: "In fact, it doesn't work like that. There are tons of people who live in the country and only achieve a so-so level in the language and the above advice usually results in you learning some phrases, going to the place and finding out that you don't understand anything natives reply. What takes more time and it's most crucial in the beginning states is to build up comprehension and for that you need lots of (meaningful, compelling) input. This means that you don't have to start speaking soon if you don't feel like it".

    - Misconception number two: "Hey! I just heard about that great idea of input-based learning. It totally blew my mind. It says that you mustn't speak when you learn a language. What, you wanna start speaking? Oh, no! you'll develop "bad habits" that will ruin your learning for ever and ever!. Just don't speak at all, every word you whisper will delay your learning for years! How long shoud you wait? oh! surely you shouldn't utter a sound before <insert here some made-up time frame or word count with no basis but expressed as if it is the most self-evident, absolute truth in the whole universe>"

    TL;DR: If you feel like speaking, do so, it can only help learning. Good luck!

    July 19 在 20:10
  • jbfan88 us United States

    I think you need to watch more of Steve's video. If you do, you'll realize that speak, don't speak, it's all fine. Eventually you will HAVE to speak and speak a lot to get good, but whether you speak early (often a frustrating experience) or later all depends on what makes you happy.

    July 20 在 02:37
    • Tarris1 no Norway

      I mostly agree, but I do not think its strictly necessary to speak to anyone to become a fluent speaker. Its a quite controversial idea, but a combination of writing, reading out loud (and in your head) as well as a ton of listening is sufficient. The most limiting factor in my experience to successful conversational fluency is limited listening skills, NOT speaking skills.

      July 20 在 12:54
      • Dimethylamine us United States

        I feel the same way. I don’t know if it’s because my brain focuses too much on speaking and trying not to make mistakes, thus taking away my focus to listen.

        July 29 在 03:00
  • Dimethylamine us United States

    I was in your same boat. I developed a good base of reading, listening, and occasionally speaking out loud for a few months before speaking/conversing. I then took an italki lesson and spoke better than I thought. Not great, not terrible, but I was understood and spoke rather clearly. I see reading and listening as the base to the pyramid supporting speaking. That’s being said, speaking Improves speaking, and I don’t think there’s any 1 to 1 substitute!

    July 20 在 18:09
  • Denkzeichner de Germany

    Hi ,

    i saw by chance your your thoughts. I am a retired 75 yers old man who had no chance to learn any language in the youth.

    But now I am leaning English and Greek. If you want and if it helps you, we could meet in Skype and have a little conversation in German. Do not worry, it would not be permanent ;-) But maybe it's good for you to speak in German.

    All the best!


    July 26 在 17:02
    • Lana55 de Germany

      Hello Bernd, I was reading your komment. I'd like try to speak English but I feel myself embarrasing becouse I can not it probably. Könntest Du viellicht helfen mir dabei? Ich dande Dir imvoraus!

      July 26 在 18:02
  • robertsheacole us United States

    You should talk if you want to. Try to find the path that is most fun and has the least resistance. Don't follow arbitrary rules about how many words you need to know before you speak. It's really hard to tell what you have as active vocabulary and as passive. So, it really doesn't matter.

    As for getting bored. You need to mix it up. Find material that is compelling for you. Do you have a part of history or culture that you might be interested in? Get some text from online, like Wikipedia, then use http://www.fromtexttospeech.com/ to generate an audio file. Then, use this to create a lesson in LingQ! You HAVE to find things you are interested in. It's about discovering things that bring you joy!

    I will say that finding real people that speak the target language and making friends of them has boosted my drive to learn more!

    I hope this is somewhat helpful!

    July 26 在 19:09
  • DLusby ca Canada

    I think so long as you have been focusing on input, the desire to speak might itself be a cue that you ought to go ahead if you want. Mistakes shouldn't "fossilize" so long as you are continuing to be actively engaged with truly compelling and interesting content in the form of listening and reading every day. I do think that continuing with 'input' activities is also important, and finding interesting material is critical. "Boring" and "lost its spark" sound like trouble. But if you want to talk, why wait? Some people quibble over whether you should wait a few months or "start from day one", but I think a year and half is a lot of time.

    It sounds like you want to talk in your target languages. I'd say go ahead.

    July 27 在 01:17
  • dragontattoo in India

    I think first you should watch some videos in that language and then speak

    July 27 在 09:40
  • Potami us United States

    I was at an outdoor cafe yesterday, watching and listening to a small child (maybe 2 years old?) and her mother interact. The little girl was commenting on everything around her: the food, the flowers in the courtyard, the umbrella over the patio table, the color of her water glass, the birds picking up scraps on the ground. She stumbled on some words, pronounced some wrong, repeated some in a sing-song way. Her mother patiently repeated back many of the words, so her daughter could hear the correct pronunciation, but didn't scold or correct her. The little girl just prattled on, so happy to be practicing her developing ability to communicate.

    The scene reminded me that I need to be less self-conscious about speaking myself. When I have spoke in foreign languages, no matter how badly I do it, people are almost always gracious and patient, just like the mother I was watching. And of course a tutor is paid to be patient! If you are feeling the urge to take a lesson, by all means do so.

    September 12 在 12:12
  • Jans fi Finland

    30K words, that´s a lot. You can be quite fluent speaker with 15K words. :)

    September 12 在 14:07
  • ericb100 us United States

    If you want to then go for it. At 9000 words German you should be able to talk about *something*, so why not? I agree with other that there shouldn't be a pre-requisite. If you want to start speaking at a much smaller number of words you can.

    As for getting bored with reading and listening, maybe you just need a day or two off from studying (if you've literally been going every day). I think that may renew the itch to get back to it. Or maybe you need some better resources?

    September 12 在 15:56