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How to learn a language
How to learn a language

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3 How to practise on your own

Some people advocate that you start speaking from day one, and if you like the idea, the next section will show you how you can do that, but I personally find that a little overwhelming. If, like me, you are a bit of an introvert, you might want to start practising speaking to yourself.

Although it might seem like a funny idea, speaking to yourself out loud gives you plenty of opportunity to get your tongue around all those new sounds of the language you are learning, and to try out bits of conversations such as common or set phrases until you feel you can say them without thinking too much about them.

It is also very useful to record yourself speaking (or even reading), and to listen to yourself again, so you can start evaluating whether you are pronouncing sounds correctly. If you have access to any audio with transcripts, it is a great idea to read along at the same time as the audio, a process known as shadow-reading, and even recording yourself as you do that, so you can also work on your fluency and intonation. Recording yourself every day reading a short passage or simply talking about your day is a really good way to get regular practice and to monitor your progress. You might want to choose a time to do this when others will not disturb you, as at first you will probably feel rather self-conscious.

However, you also need to realise that if your aim is to talk to others in your foreign language, sooner or later you are going to have to talk to others. In the next section, I will show you one of the most effective and enjoyable ways of doing that.