torstai 15. lokakuuta 2015

Don’t be shy. Speak it up!

What differentiates a passionate language learner from an ordinary one? There can be many personal aspects also included, but undoubtedly the fearless attitude to practice the language via speaking and to learn through making mistakes is among the main distinctions.

A passionate language learner knows that starting to speak as early as possible is extremely beneficial for the language process and can boost it a lot. Firstly, speaking improves the fluency since the knowledge of grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary becomes the “quickly-accessed” assets of the brain. Secondly, communicating with a native speaker can be indeed an exciting as well as motivating activity for a learner to keep up developing the language skills. Meanwhile, this communication also supports the process of enlarging vocabulary and improving grammar skills of a learner.

I personally see learning languages as my hobby, and already from the age of six I have been learning and developing my English, originally being a Russian-speaker. Five years ago I moved to Finland, and from that moment I got an idea of learning Finnish somewhere in the future. Time goes by, and I ended up being a student of Lappeenranta University of Technology, where I finally was able to set my mind right in terms of learning Finnish. I went to all the Finnish courses, offered by the university’s Language Center, and enjoyed those so much that decided to practice more in “real world” cases: in shops, cafeterias, over the phone when ordering pizza or so on, and eventually never regretted this idea of mine 

I assume you can image how tough and embarrassing it was at the beginning, because I didn’t know a lot of words and could barely understand when an interlocutor was responding to me and I was humbly trying to express some thoughts of mine in Finnish. Sometimes people could understand me, sometimes they asked several times so I would repeat my phrase or express it in other words, but eventually this whole practice helped me a lot. And maybe it helped not only in the way of practice speaking, but in terms of reducing the internal mental barrier to open my mouth and speak it up.
Of course, you can’t just start talking a language straight after opening a grammar book on it. In order to proceed well with communication, it is essential to study and to acquire new skills and knowledge on vocabulary and grammar. Talking to a foreigner gives an opportunity to develop the communicating skills and to obtain more confidence, and most probably it supports the learning of slang or set expressions. However, to highlight – don’t give up on books or e-sources when learning, they are necessary to get a starting point and gain general understanding on the culture of the language.

To conclude, living far from home for a long time and travelling a lot, I was able to meet great number of interesting people – some of them were good at English, some could barely say a word in the foreign language, but what is pleasantly surprising is that the majority of them was not afraid of communicating not in their native language. So I hope after reading this, you will also challenge yourself a bit, and start practicing a new language by simply opening your mouth and saying “hi” in Finnish, Italian, German or whatever language you are learning now! Good luck and stay cool!

Text: Anastasiia Kisurina, a student of Independent Study in English course

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