When I was about 40 years old (as you can see, learning languages, and learning in general too, is not about age – so, never is too late) I switched my learning approach to listening. Listening became my main source of English. Not only I listened in my car, but I started to use headphones (better to say only one headphone) and practiced that “unconscious” listening (look at the V.F.B. video below) and actually even nowadays I have that headphone in my ear nearly all day long :-)
This way I had continued about for 2 years (I was quite happy about my increasing ability to understand) and then I met my best friend RF for the fist time. She was better in English than me, especially in speaking. She spent some time abroad. I was keen into her ;-) She was and still is really a beautiful girl! We started to write emails together and then I suggested her to write them in English. At that time I had no courage to propose English speaking, of course. And she also had not such need. Actually as I found later that she is not willing to speak English in public here in Czech republic between people speaking Czech. Kate is but I will talk about it later. Sometimes at that time I created my first „plan for English“. See the picture – click to enlarge:
Yes, I was a „star“ in listening, average in reading and grammar exercises, but my speaking was… terrible! How to say it, there was NO speaking at all. I was hardly able to say anything and because I was not very outspoken even in my mother tongue it was not very surprising to me. I also noticed that I do not like to speak in English somehow. I did not like to hear myself to speak in different language – it was not natural for me. I did not feel well doing it. I realized, that I needed some new approach at this stage or to incorporate to my approach some additional components if I would like to speak. V.F.B. calls this „ the activities“ as I notice in that video and there are also some possibilities, I think, described in her book too, but it is all let up to every individual. This stage is not so elaborated in her approach – at least it seems to me.
So, I started to search and I found (YES! „Search and you will find“ It works) two remedies. I do not know which one of them helped me more. First was that I found another best friend (I have two now :-) ) Kate and because she used to live (at that time) in neighbor country (Slovakia) we chatted via Skype every day – and I must say that it was very, very hard for me (at the beginning) Even frustrating and I am glad, and maybe even kind of proud of myself, that I was able to do it for sufficient period of time. Meantime I realized that my talkativeness as such is poor (in my Czech too) and I found the second remedy a METHOD (God bless!) which promised to boost the talkativeness. I found that it existed also English version (even it was kind of unfinished at that time). I bought that method in PDF format and I started to practice it according to instruction every day. At the beginning it was a bit strange for me to do that kind of self-talk but I managed to continue anyway. After while I created a habit and everything went surprisingly well, smooth and forward. I started to speak better with Kate and I become familiar with my voice in English and on the top of it I realized that I was starting to think in English! This „self-talk“ I practiced using that strange method turned into „inner self-talk“ = THINKING. When I think of it now, the goal of everybody who learns some foreign language should be to be able to think in that language. But to return to my story. It was about one year after my first, not very „successful“ course with my friend RF and we decided to attend another one. This time it was conversational course with native teacher. Only we two (students) and the teacher from England who does not speak a word in Czech! I was a little bit nervous about it. I had never met any native English speaker before and never spoken with any one before! And how it went?
I can see now, that this blog post is a bit too long, so I will let the rest of it (and I will rest;-) ) for tomorrow. Although they say that „tomorrow never comes“ I hope that at this case it will come.
to be continued ...