The hardest aspect of language learning, in my opinion, is definitely speaking. Especially on top of a busy schedule of work, studies and general life. Here are some of my top tips on how to Improve your Japanese speaking ability.
Find a language partner.
Finding a native Japanese speaker who is also learning English is the absolute best way to improve your speaking ability. Someone who you can feel comfortable speaking with, fits into your schedule and also has the same level of English as your Japanese is imperative to your progress. Having the same level of ability is important so you can challenge one and other in equal measures.
How do I find this mythical creature? Easy, a little app called Hello Talk. Download it, use it and find language partners. Its so simple.
Try to avoid text messaging as much as possible, instead, send voice messages or have a call with them. I recommend trying to speak for roughly an hour a day about a specific subject. Find something to talk about beforehand and pre-plan topics to get the most out of this precious time. This is a conversation so have a lot of fun and be yourself.
I usually fit in an hour conversation on my lunch with my language partner which allows me to practice what I’ve learnt on the weekends. It is also a great way to learn to speak more naturally.
Talk to yourself.
You might sound crazy, but just talk to yourself, babies do it and they are language learning machines. Ask yourself questions, pretend you are on a talk show, talk about anything and everything. Talk In the shower, speak while walking, chat while waiting, there are many opportunities to use Japanese every day.
If you do this, you don’t have to worry about making mistakes or feeling embarrassed (You shouldn’t anyway as it’s normal) just let yourself talk and talk and talk.
It works best if you speak about a topic for an extended period of time rather then an overall conversation about anything and everything. Set some goals, for example, week 1 could be all about describing people, week 2 could be animals, week 3 is countries and so on. This way you can focus your study on specific vocabulary and get better at scenario specific conversations.
In the end if you don’t do it you don’t progress. The more you speak the further you will go and the quicker you will become a Japanese speaking guru.