I’m a strong proponent of spoken English self-practice – I’ve been doing it for years and I attribute much of my English fluency development to those countless hours of speaking English with myself.
I’ve touched upon this subject on this blog a few times before, but today I’m going to provide you with clear and obvious benefits of such spoken English self-practice.
If you think that only lunatics speak with themselves and that speaking with real people in real life is the only way forward for foreign English speakers to improve fluency, please read this article and you may actually change your mind
Yes, I’ve said it before that you DON’T HAVE TO SPEAK OUT LOUD – you can speak in a very light whisper.
I’ve also mentioned it before that you can just speak in your mind barely moving your lips which would be an equivalent of simply verbalizing your thoughts.
But if those reasons aren’t enough to persuade you to practice English with yourself and you think that the very CONCEPT OF SELF-PRACTICE IS FLAWED, keep reading and I promise I’ll reveal some aspects of the whole speak-English-with-yourself thing you haven’t ever considered!
There’s More Common Between Self-Practice and
Real Conversations Than You Think!
You probably haven’t given this too much consideration, so you may think that a real conversation is a whole new ballgame when compared to having a chat with yourself. Well, then think about this:
When you SPEAK –
whether it’s asking or answering a question –
it’s ONLY YOU who speaks, not the other person!
I mean – you may as well imagine you’re on your own at that particular point in time when opening your mouth and producing the verbal message!
Yes, the stress levels are higher and there are more aspects at play when communicating with other human being, and I’m going to look at them later in this very same article, but if you break it down to the very technical basics, it’s like I just said.
Try to replace your conversation partner with an imaginary character who asks you questions (by the way – it’s exactly what happens in the English Harmony System’s lessons!). Now, do your answers change in purely technical terms – the way you construct sentences and produce them using your mouth? Putting emotions aside, I think you should admit that in technical terms your speech is the same regardless of who you’re speaking with – a friend, a work colleague or yourself!
When you PREPARE A SPEECH –
it’s clearly going to be delivered the same way
to your audience as to your bathroom mirror!
Imagine yourself preparing for an important speech. You create a list of important points to focus upon during the speech, and you practice that speech in a front of a mirror.
Now, how is the speech you’re delivering to yourself any different from the actual speech you’re going to deliver in front of your class or pitch to your client, or give a presentation? I already concluded that stress and other aspects are being factored in when you speak with real human beings, but aside from that – HOW IS THAT SPEECH DIFFERENT?
Common folks, please understand that when you speak with yourself preparing for a public presentation or an interview, you speak using the same English words and sentences as you’d use when actually delivering that speech
It means your self-practice isn’t a “bastard version” of real-life English communication, and you’re perfectly fine to develop your fluency by utilizing moments when you’ve free time and you’ve no-one else to talk to.
In most daily situations you ALREADY KNOW
what questions you might be asked!
One argument that may be used against spoken English self-practice is the following :
“Surely real conversations are spontaneous and require a developed skill of responding to unexpected questions and speaking fast as opposed to slow and well thought-through narration of one’s thoughts?”
I won’t deny – there’s some truth in the above statement.
But I also STRONGLY BELIEVE that you can’t dismiss self-practice as a complete waste of time because it allows you to develop your fluency in zero stress conditions and after all – many daily conversations aren’t that unexpected and don’t require a great deal of improvisation anyway
I can honestly tell you that most conversations taking place in my work are based around the same topics – especially the ones regarding the work process etc.
If you start in a new place and take notice of what’s being talked about around you during the first week, you can certainly prepare for those sorts of conversations at home by practicing them with yourself!
But I don’t want you to think of me as a biased person, so let’s look at those aspects of spoken English self-practice that aren’t the same when it comes to speaking with real people in real life.
What’s Different When You Speak in English
With Others and With Yourself
Stress levels are MUCH higher in real conversations!
Yes, this dreadful, terrible stress! It can get the better of the most prepared foreign English speaker and make you forget everything you’ve spoken about with yourself!
That’s what real life communication is all about – managing your stress levels, keeping your speech simple, slow and not trying to force yourself to sound smart because it may have a detrimental effect on your fluency.
HOWEVER, it doesn’t mean you have to abandon your self-practice. What this means to you is that you simply have to embrace every opportunity to speak with others to get used to real-life English conversations. Don’t be thinking – “What’s the point in speaking with myself if I can’t deliver the same kind of quality speech when speaking with others?” The answer is – “It preps you up for real conversations, strengthens your active vocabulary and trains your pronunciation!”
Managing your stress is important, nonetheless, so make sure you read these articles:
You can’t always take time during a conversation in real life
Yes, that’s right. When practicing English with yourself, you can delve on the matter for 5 – 10 seconds before speaking about it, while it’s not always the case when facing another person waiting on your answer.
But then again, I’ve often noticed that it’s actually the speaker himself trying to deliver an immediate response – not so much the conversation partner demanding it!
On most occasions you can fill in those awkward gaps in your speech using hesitation fillers and other useful English phrases, and you can rest assured that most native English speakers speak using them all the time!
When it’s a life and death situation, however – yes, you need to respond immediately, and it’s very different to what you’d be facing when narrating your thoughts and actions to get your fluency going.
But hey – who said you can’t prepare for different kinds of emergencies by using relevant phrases and sentences?
Questions in real life can be unexpected and that’s
very different from spoken English self-practice
I agree 100% – when someone asks you something you really didn’t expect, it can throw you off and make you gasp in surprise without being able to come up with a reasonable answer.
When you speak with yourself, the very nature of self-practice excludes the factor of something unexpected to crop up, so yes, that’s different.
But it doesn’t mean you can’t deal with those situations!
A very powerful method is to take time and THINK about the question and the matter at hand instead of TRYING TO FORCE YOURSELF to say something. It’s better to admit you don’t know enough about the subject than trying to say anything that might pass for a decent reply and end up having said something that doesn’t make much sense.
Advantages of Speaking in English With Yourself
Zero stress levels!
Obviously when you’re not facing another person during a conversation, you don’t have to worry about the way you sound, about mistakes you might make, and so on and so forth.
It enables you to utilize your full potential as a foreign English speaker which is great for developing your fluency and your ability to use various means of expression in your speech.
Basically here’s how it works:
- You make conscious effort to use certain phrases and new words when speaking with yourself
- They’re being added on to your active vocabulary
- You’re getting used to using them in real life conversations!
Please realize this – if you ONLY EVER speak in English with others, your fluency development might be lagging behind your written fluency and your comprehension skills!
Of course, if you’re getting LOADS of spoken English practice with other English speakers in a natural environment, it might not be the case. If you don’t get many opportunities to communicate with others, however, spoken English self-practice is great to develop your verbal communication skills.
You can do it at any time!
You can speak in English with yourself pretty much any time.
You take a shower in the morning, you walk down to the bus stop, you commute to work, you perform monotonous tasks at work, you go to bathroom… All these and a million other occasions when you aren’t in direct contact with other people are perfect for getting into the habit of verbalizing your thoughts in English!
As I said before – you don’t even have to speak out loud; just a light whisper will do the trick and the barely noticeable lip movements will insure a perfect conversation simulation!
Disadvantages of Speaking in English With Yourself
Well… There’s NONE!
Seriously, I can’t think of anything that would pass for a serious argument against such spoken English self-practice.
But hold on, I am actually aware of a few misconceptions, so let’s debunk them right away:
There’s no-one to correct you, so you adopt bad mistakes which are hard to get rid of!
First of all – do others constantly correct you when you speak with them in real life? Except for a few occasions when you’ve made a request to your native English speaking friend, for instance, people won’t bother themselves by looking out for your mistakes and pointing them out to you.
Actually quite the opposite is often true – most native English speakers won’t even notice most of those small grammar or vocabulary mistakes you’re making!
I believe that ultimately it’s all up to you and it’s you who has to make the conscious effort to mimic correct and natural English speech regardless of where and who you speak with – another person or your bathroom mirror.
Speaking of mistakes which can’t be corrected at a later stage of your life – well, if you want to be perfect all the time – good luck! Stay super-conscious of your spoken English performance and don’t open your mouth till you’re 100% sure you’re going to produce an impeccable English sentence.
Personally I’ll go for fluency over perfection any day, and I warmly suggest you do the same.
Speaking English with yourself is hard…
Everything is hard if you’re not used to it, believe me.
You may have a feeling that you’re devoid of any ideas of what you could be talking about with yourself.
You may have a psychological barrier because you’ve always believed speaking with oneself is a sure sign of a mental disorder.
After all, you may find it strange and awkward because you’ve never done it before!
One way or another, you have to start perceiving spoken English self-practice as a normal way of practicing your English, developing your fluency and also getting into the habit of thinking in English which is crucial for you as a foreign English speaker.
P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!
P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!