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The 6 Best, Free Ways to Speak a New Language This Year

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The 6 Best, Free Ways to Speak a New Language This Year

The hardest part about language learning is not comprehension, but oral.

We all have the same excuses the we play over our heads:

“I don’t know what to say…”
“What if I’m saying something completely different?”
“What if I don’t understand their response?”

Yet it’s not entirely our fault. The majority of people that want to learn a language do so in order to be able to speak with a native speaker, whether you’re in an international organization, traveling, or have a foreign speaking family member. The traditional methods of language learning are primarily focused on vocabulary and grammar. No wonder why we blank out when conversing, even after months of learning! As the old saying goes: “if you want to learn something, learn by doing.”

Here are 6 best (and free) ways to speak a foreign language this year.

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1. Michel Thomas

Michel Thomas is a well-recognized podcast and teacher, helping you learn the basics and conversation skills through his audio tapes. Although it’s a paid product, there are several places online, where you can find free episodes. This is highly recommended for people who are looking improve their listening skills. The audio tapes help you understand the pronounciation of various accents and common responses you will hear during conversations.

If you want to practice your speaking skills, you can repeat aloud what Michel is teaching his students.

2. TV and movies in Spanish

If you’d rather watch TV and movies, there are several places you can find shows with foreign language audio and subtitles.

subtitle-of-a-blu-ray-movie

    As mentioned in this article, here’s how you should be watching depending on your language skill level:

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    • A beginner: Watch with foreign subtitle and native audio
    • An intermediate: Watch with native subtitle and foreign subtitle
    • An advanced-intermediate: Watch with foreign audio and no subtitle (or foreign subtitle)

    3. Your own network

    Chances are that if you’re learning a popular language like Spanish, French, or Mandarin, you may have a colleague or a friend that already speaks the language. A shortcut to this approach is to go on Facebook and use Open Graph Search to check if any of your friends are part of a group associated with the language you want to learn. For example: “Spanish conversation exchange.”

    You can reach out to gauge their interest in helping you improve, but you identify those that want to learn a language you can also help them out in. Make sure to give each other enough time to practice your respective languages, and treat it as an exchange. Many people reading this may not want to bother their colleagues or friends to help them practice on a consistent basis, nor have someone to practice with in their network.

    This is where language meetups thrive.

    4. Language meetups

    Today, there are thousands of new language meetups popping up every month around the world. With the rising importance of language learning, you can find meetups for most popular languages such as Spanish, French, or Italian in your local city.

    This is where fellow language lovers unite and share their passion for the new languages they are learning. From personal experience, you won’t get in much real-world practice at these events, but it’s a great way to build relationships with people you have something in common with. You can find local events near you from the following websites:

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    5. Conversation exchanges

    If you enjoy the concept of meeting fellow language learners, yet would rather be at home, conversation exchanges could be your route. In short, conversation exchanges are where you can meet people who are learning the same language as you or sometimes fluent in the language you want to learn.

    People can converse over email, text, phone call, or video chat, whichever you and your partner agrees with. Many also use it to simply meet people online with similar interests, as most language learners are recognized for their open-mindedness. Patience and time is a key asset if you want to make the most out of conversation exchanges.

    Due to the lack of commitment most students have for the platform, you’ll face a difficult process of finding the right partner that has the time, skills, and personality match to practice with you. In addition, you may experience several no-shows due to its lack of structure.

    6. Language learning platforms

    Many of us don’t have the time nor patience to coordinate schedules and depend on other people’s commitment levels. The reason why most of us quit learning before reaching fluency is the lack of accountability, personalization, and time. I mean, let’s face it. We’re all busy!

    Rype for example, solves all of these problems. They match you with a pre-vetted professional teachers for one-on-one lessons and customize the lessons based on your needs. Think personalized language learning — right from home.

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      Since we all have personal reason and goals of learning a language, Rype has customized packages you can choose from to meet your specific needs, such as The Traveller Package (for travelers), The Starter Package (for beginners), and Rype Club (for busy individuals).

      You can receive a free complementary lesson in Spanish for 30 minutes on their website, and they have a free language learning course that you can check out.

      More by this author

      Sean Kim

      Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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      Last Updated on July 20, 2021

      How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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      How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

      You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

      Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

      Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

      Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

      1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

      According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

      “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

      Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

      Warming up

      If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

      If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

      Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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      1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
      2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
      3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

      Stay hydrated

      Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

      To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

      Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

      Meditate

      Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

      Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

      Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

      Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

      2. Focus on your goal

      One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

      Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

      Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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      Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

      If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

      3. Convert negativity to positivity

      There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

      ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

      It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

      Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

      Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

      Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

      4. Understand your content

      Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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      However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

      “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

      Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

      Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

      One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

      5. Practice makes perfect

      Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

      In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

      Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

      6. Be authentic

      There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

      Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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      Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

      To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

      With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

      Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

      7. Post speech evaluation

      Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

      Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

      We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

      You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

      Improve your next speech

      As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

      Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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      • How did I do?
      • Are there any areas for improvement?
      • Did I sound or look stressed?
      • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
      • Was I saying “um” too often?
      • How was the flow of the speech?

      Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

      If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

      Reference

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