Today I had yet another Skype language exchange session with a gentleman named Jaime from Spain. We spoke for over an hour in Spanish. Of course there was a little English thrown in… Language exchanges usually are 50/50 (Half your native language and half your target language).
Jaime is a native Spanish speaker. His English level is very advanced, so he explained that we could do our sessions totally in Spanish to help me out!
What I’ve noticed is this – You can study until you run out of coffee and your eyes fall out, but you won’t get proficient in speaking your target language unless you do just that – speak it. Since I’ve begun doing these language exchanges, I have already seen a big improvement in my Spanish. I’ve noticed that the more you “produce” your target language, the more it “sticks”, and you end up remembering what you’ve learned because you have put it into practice. Ever heard of “use it or lose it”? Similar concept. It works.
In addition to video language exchange sessions, I have also done Skype phone calls with people in other countries. Just conversing with another human being in your target language is a huge help for your pronunciation, vocabulary, and listening skills.Speaking of vocabulary, I often take notes during these conversations. There is something about writing new things down (on real paper with a pen) that engraves the information into your brain.
If you’re learning a language and haven’t practice speaking with someone else, you really need to. It really will help tremendously!