As you’ve no doubt already heard, ad nauseam, I study Swedish (I just added it to my LinkedIn profile, so it must be true.)
The idea is to have material to write about, given that I’m no longer learning Italian (though I live and work in Italy.)
Plus, I recently started Turkish lessons, in an effort to remember a language that I used to know well several decades ago.
Now, learning two languages at the same time was clearly going to be problematic.
I admit, though, I was unprepared for that helpless feeling of being utterly ‘blocked’ when I tried to speak Turkish.
These days I can chat away for ages in Swedish, with close to zero accuracy but always managing to find some way to express myself.
But when it comes to Turkish, while I can understand much of what is said to me, as soon as I open my mouth… Swedish comes out!
Or Italian, or I give up and resort to speaking in English.
I have a similar problem when it comes to remembering Turkish words – I KNOW them when I read them or hear them, but when I need to use them in speech – I blank!
OK, so in this morning’s lesson, I was like, OK, so I can’t speak at all but at least I can read my teacher some questions, that way she’ll speak and I can just listen.
So I clicked through to a set Turkish conversation prompts that we’d had translated previously for OnlineTurkishClub.com.
I picked ‘Work and School’, which I figured would give us plenty to talk about, and read out the first question.
My teacher corrected my pronunciation, then answered, and away we went!
I was listening but also responding: “Really, why do you do that?”, “Oh me too!” and so on.
The pressure was completely off, which helped a lot. Each time I got stuck, I went back and chose another question.
The rest of my hour-long lesson passed in a flash, and I even learnt some new words!
In retrospect, it would have been a good idea to read/study the questions first.
I was just picking them out at random, but some weren’t relevant to the situation. And there were words I didn’t know, which I could easily have checked beforehand.
Insomma, preparation would have made the lesson more fruitful.
But anyway, if what I’ve described, that idea of being totally ‘blocked’, of being unable to hold up your end of the conversation, sounds familiar, then why not give it a try for yourself?
Having some text support takes the pressure off and can give a ‘speaking’ lesson focus and purpose.
So here’s a new set of Italian conversation prompts, which I’ve just added to our conversation page this morning.
The topic is ‘E se…?‘ (And if…?)
Or select a topic from our ‘conversation prompts page‘ – there are now nineteen to choose from!
Obviously, you don’t have to be ‘blocked’ to use these.
They’re even more valuable if you are already good at speaking Italian but just need something to get you started…
If you don’t have a teacher to practice with, you could consider taking some online lessons.
Or you could practice with someone else you know who’s studying Italian.
Speaking practice is speaking practice – you don’t need a native-speaker or a teacher present for it to be useful, and fun!