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3C: Activity Guide

At this point, there many different possible activities. You will need to design your own plan and schedule to focus on your personal goals.

There are two different focuses you can choose from:

  1. Expanding your speaking competence.
  2. Improving your speaking performance.

Speaking Competence Focus

If you’ve just started speaking, we recommend focusing on competence first. There will be many subtle aspects of native speech that you need to acquire. You’ll also likely still have a few competence gaps leftover from Stage 3B.

To work on your competence, there are three areas you want to focus on:

  1. Speaking-specific acquisition
  2. General acquisition
  3. Activating acquired language

Speaking-Specific Acquisition

As described in 3C: Speaking Competence, there are many new linguistic features that you need to start paying attention to as you refine your speaking ability. You need to train yourself to notice all of these before you can emulate them.

Continue immersing with talk shows until you have level 6 comprehension. Spend time actively listening for each of the new linguistic features.

General Acquisition

As you start speaking, you’ll run into vocabulary and grammar patterns that you’re able to understand, but still aren’t sure how to use. These are small competence gaps that you want to fill quickly. Immerse in the domain of casual conversation (reading and speaking), and any mini-domains that you frequently talk about. Use the advice in 3B: Output Troubleshooting to identify any acquisition gaps and fill them.

WARNING: if you are experiencing an excessive amount of competence errors, that means you aren’t ready for speaking. You should have level 6 comprehension with your parent and slice-of-life TV at this point. If you don’t, then keep immersing!

Activating Acquired Language

Most of your acquired language should have been activated by the writing practice in Stage 3B. If your mind goes blank when trying to speak, you probably need to activate more language.

Keep conversing with people via online text chat. You can also use long-form writing as a way to activate large chunks of newly acquired vocabulary and solidify your grammar abilities.

Most language should be activated and ready for use in speaking, but sometimes you need to say it once or twice to make the final connection. Practice monologuing or casual conversation with natives to expose yourself to situations where you can make the final speaking connection.

Speaking Performance Focus

If you are happy with your current level of competence (ie. you can write comfortably) but you're frustrated with your speaking ability, then you just need to practice your performance.

Improving speaking performance will help you feel confident and comfortable during conversation. There are four areas you want to focus on:

  1. Being a good conversation partner
  2. Comfort in speaking
  3. Language accuracy
  4. Pronunciation

Being a Good Conversation Partner

Being a good conversation partner means you can listen to another speaker, pay attention to what they're saying, and give them the appropriate feedback to let them know you’re listening.

The easier you can understand your partner, the better you will be able to listen to them. Immerse with talk shows and other noisy audio to improve your listening ability until it’s effortless. Pay special attention to backchanneling, speaker transitions, and social reactions so you can understand what’s appropriate for your language and culture. Try to emulate these when you’re having casual conversations with natives.

Speaking Comfort

Becoming comfortable with speaking is all about practice. You just need to expose yourself to conversations repeatedly and often. Use monologuing as a way to practice with less pressure, but make sure you are spending time having real conversations with real people as well.

If you’re having trouble getting comfortable, check out 3C: Speaking Troubleshooting for tips on how to improve.

Language Accuracy

You need to make sure you’re using the language correctly. Recording your conversations and listening back can help you improve language accuracy, but it’s also important to get native feedback. A native will point out gaps in your linguistic ability that you wouldn’t notice yourself.

See 3C: Speaking Practice for an explanation of how to get feedback on your speaking ability.

Pronunciation

All of the exercises outlined in 3B: Pronunciation Training are still applicable. Make sure you are still actively immersing with your parent and paying attention to the linguistic features outlined in 3C: Speaking Competence.

Keep shadowing, but also try imitating your parent as described in 3C: Speaking Practice.

Example Schedule: Competence

Assuming you have two hours of active time to spend per day:

  • 15 min Anki
  • 60 min immersion with talk shows and slice-of-life
    • Plus additional passive listening throughout the day.
  • 45 min activation and speaking practice
    • Casual conversation or writing

Example Schedule: Performance

Assuming you have two hours of active time to spend per day:

  • 15 min Anki
  • 60 min immersion with talk shows and parent
    • Plus additional passive listening throughout the day.
  • 45 min speaking or pronunciation practice
    • Shadowing
    • Imitation
    • Corrective conversation

Level Up

By the end of Stage 3, you should be comfortable with everyday speech. Move on to Stage 4 when you want to expand into new domains.