Speak later if you want to learn languages faster
I just had a reasonably long text chat in Spanish where I talked about my current language learning habits and goals, and while this might not seem like a very big achievement to most people I thought it was a pretty big milestone for me - communicating in what I consider a reasonably fluent manner using my limited vocabulary.
One thing I have started doing nowadays is to not try to force myself to speak using complex sentences the way I do in English, but instead to speak in simple sentences using only the grammar and vocabulary that I am extremely confident with.
When I chat this way, it feels a lot more natural and effortless. I don’t have to struggle to say something complicated by trying to create completely new sentences in my head.
I realize that using only simple sentence structures temporarily limits my ability to express myself and might be slowing down my learning process.
However, by doing this, I also avoid accidentally using (and thus practicing and internalizing) bad grammar or unnatural sounding sentences and thus protect myself from forming any bad language habits that occurred because a common tendency that we all have to convert native language grammar and sentence structures into our target language.
The problem with letting these bad habits creep in early is that some of them never go away, and we end up forever speaking using awkward sentence structures that no one will later correct.
Another thing I have chosen to do is put off speaking and instead focus on reading, writing and listening for now. While I do practice pronunciation and speaking by myself, I don’t force myself to converse with others until I feel ready. I believe that rushing to speak before you are ready is counterproductive and can actually slow down the learning process.
Children spend years listening before they form their first few sentences. As a result, they subconsciously have a mapping of grammar and know which words should go together, even if they don’t know what any of the words mean yet. As a result, they usually only need to be taught exceptions and irregular sentences
For some reason, we as adults feel pressured to speak within a day of learning a few words or phrases, and to try and create complex sentences on the fly without any of that same reference grammar instilled in our head.
I personally believe that spending more time listening and practicing phrases and sentences while slowly reading grammar and vocabulary to bring structure to our learning is the most optimal way to learn, at least this is the case for me.
By doing this and letting go of my hurry to speak fluently, I also feel like I’m now learning faster and enjoying the process more and ironically this is taking me towards my goal faster.