Of all the different approaches to language learning it’s difficult to pin down exactly which ones work and which ones don’t. Among these methods is whether when learning French you should speak from day one.
If you’ve been active in the online language-learning community you’ll know that this is definitely something that you see debated quite often. When you really think about it, there are actually good reasons why you should and why you shouldn’t. Let’s explore some of these reasons.
Why You Should Speak French from Day One
In the past we’ve spoken a fair amount about the four components of language learning. These components are reading, writing, listening and speaking. Of these four most people would agree that speaking is the most difficult.
This is for a couple of reasons, but the most obvious of which is because learners often neglect this element, and thus don’t get enough practice. Because of this, they lack the confidence needed to converse with others.
Many learners will then spend large amounts of time improving their French in other areas, but continue to lag behind in their speaking ability.
Speaking from day one helps you to get in the habit of speaking right away and doesn’t allow you to push it off until a later date.
When learners postpone practicing their speaking, they end up realizing that they aren’t as strong as they thought and then postpone it even further.
Speaking from day one allows your speaking ability to be as strong as the rest of your language components, so that it doesn’t fall behind like it does in most people.
Even if you have the confidence to practice your French speaking ability with others it is still a skill that takes longer to develop than the other components do. This is because speaking is as much a physical skill as it is a mental one.
This means that in order to truly develop this skill you have to build up the muscles in your face so that you can effortlessly produce the correct sounds. If when speaking you find that your face starts to hurt or feel sore then you know you’re on the right track.
Now that we know some reasons as to why you should speak French from day one, let’s look at some reasons why you shouldn’t.
Why You Shouldn’t Speak French from Day One
Unlike the other components of language learning speaking is the one that makes you the most susceptible to making mistakes. Both reading and listening don’t require you to produce anything on your end so it’s impossible to make mistakes.
Writing, although it definitely does open you to the possibly to making mistakes, does allow you to take your time to really think of what you’re going to write.
You also often have more access to resources (internet, dictionaries, grammar books, etc…) that can help you. When you speak however you have to basically think on your feet and don’t have much time to determine what you’re going to say.
This definitely opens up the possibility of making lots and lots of mistakes without even realizing it.
So why shouldn’t you speak French from day one? Although making mistakes is inevitable when learning a language, they absolutely should be kept to a minimum. If you are speaking from day one, despite the fact that what you are saying will be rather basic, you are extremely susceptible to making mistakes.
In the beginning of your language-learning journey, you have absolutely no concept of what is right and and of what is wrong.
Because of this, you really want to be exposed to what is absolutely considered correct so that you can start to develop this internal sense. By potentially making mistakes you risk internalizing what is incorrect which will lead it to start sounding correct to you.
If you wait to start speaking until after you’ve listened or read for a while, you can better get a sense of what is correct as well as how to pronounce things.
The next reason why you shouldn’t speak French from day one is because it can be incredibly discouraging. We’ve already mentioned that most language learner’s ability to speak lags behind their other language skills.
Speaking when you have little to no experience with a language is a great way to materialize your incompetence and make it so you never want to do it again.
Not to mention when you speak with a native you are going to have a hard time even being understood. Once you experience that sentiment of feeling like an idiot, you may not want to even continue at all.
Seeing as language learning is a long-term process you really want to stay as encouraged as possible. This isn’t said to speak poorly of anyone or to discourage people from learning, it’s simply something that a lot of language learners experience in the beginning of their learning journey.
People want to be liked and to fit in, and for many of us the last thing we want is to potentially be mocked for something that we aren’t very good at.
So what is the answer?
As with pretty much anything in language learning the correct answer is what works best for you. Some people may be confident enough to go out and start speaking with friends and not really care if they make mistakes.
Others want to wait a little bit and try their best to speak as correctly as possible for either fear of embarrassment or for simply the desire of perfection.
Should you speak French from day one or not? It’s hard to say with exact certainty what works best for everyone.
What do you think? How did you start your French-learning journey? Did you speak from day one, or did you wait until you reached a level of understanding before you started?
Comment below and tell us what you think and what has worked for you and what you recommend for the aspiring language learner. If you didn’t speak from day one, do you wish you had? If you did speak from day one, do you wish you had waited? Tell us all about it.