英語汁 / Eigo-jiru

【English speaking practice】The reason why you should start “self-talk” right now!《Eigo-jiru vol.6》

Hi. It’s konkaz (@konkazuk) here. 

What is written about in this article are…

How many people are going a long way round to achieve their goals by choosing the learning method that doesn’t involve using their own voice while they want to be able to speak,

and also…

How “self-talking practice” can help you improve your English speaking skill immensely.

So, if you think the development of your speaking skill is stagnating, or you are looking for more enjoyable way to learn, please keep reading! ✨


Get your voice out!

image by Gerd Altman

First of all, having a conversation in English is not like communicating each other by using the power of telepathy with the knowledge you have accumulated in your head…

It looks like there are lots of people blindly spending their time to store up English grammars and vocabularies and they are hoping that such an ability will bloom one day to communicate…?

But we don’t use such a skill when it comes to speaking Japanese, do we?

“No, no, no, I just want to be able to write some sentences in English.”

“I just want to equip myself with perfect grammar!”

“My goal is just to score a great mark to get the certificate for my job hunting…”

If these are the cases it’s fine, but fundamentally, English is …

“A tool to communicate with other people”

It will be too good to waste if you don’t turn what you are learning to the direction where you can use it to communicate with other English speakers from other countries.

image by radoslaw prekurat

Anyway, when it comes to English learning, I presume you have repetitively heard about the action of “inputting” and “outputting”,

but, if your ultimate goal is to be able to communicate with other people in English, you better realise the fact that inputting (accumulating the knowledge) and outputting (using the knowledge you have acquired) must be carried out at the same time!

However, just because…

  • you know how to carry out inputting type of learning much better than outputting type of it
  • the progress you make with inputting is easier for you to measure than that of outputting

, don’t you have a tendency of procrastinating speaking practice without knowing and spend most of your time on inputting instead?

Well, it’s fairly understandable, but if you are working less on outputting side of the practice, it’s not only creating a bad balance between your achieving areas, but also…

it will cost you extra longer time to acquire speaking skill.

image by tony-tran

But then, some of you might say…

“To be able to output something, we need a good amount of input beforehand, don’t we?”

however, you don’t have to wait to output until you have acquired advanced grammar or have accumulated a large number of vocabularies!

What you are doing is just like…

You start using electric appliances only after you have read all the pages of manual and have studied in details with memorising the name of every machinery parts.

Instead, we start using them as soon as we have learnt the minimum necessary information and learn optional small things as opportunities arise, don’t we? 

The same thing can be said of learning to speak in English.

Just like driving vehicles, playing some sports or instruments, and so forth, speaking skill cannot be achieved by just acquiring its knowledge (inputting).

Even if you feel totally uncomfortable and are not good at doing it in the beginning, without outputting your knowledge by using your own mouth, you will end up becoming just like an operations manual.

The quickest way to improve your speaking skill is you learn it through experiencing some disappointments or embarrassing situations… at the end of the day.

Probably this fact is not known to many people, but even native-borns speak with lots of grammatical mistakes when they are little. 

Therefore, start outputting whichever English vocabulary or expression you know little by little in your daily life, even if you have Katakana English accent.

We can just fix things as we go!

Seriously, you can start with something really basic and easy such as “I’m hungry!” or “I’m happy!”

After all, the improvement of your speaking skill can be achieved only by the number of times you have turned your thought into your voice, therefore the sooner you start the better!

What sort of outcome will be expected for knowledge collectors?

image by Tumisu


So, what will happen if you just keep inputting, I mean, keep stuffing knowledge into your brain?

This is actually very dangerous and is said to be one of the reasons why we Japanese cannot develop our speaking skill despite we spend hours and hours for studying.

I guess the people who have gone abroad to study might have met those who courageously plunge into native speaker’s conversation and totally fit themselves in despite their apparently poor English vocabularies.

And meanwhile, we Japanese who have equipped with basic knowledge of English grammar and some good vocabularies from compulsory education, are unable to join in and instead we are just listening and smiling…(and possibly correcting courageous person’s grammatical mistakes in our head.)

But the fact is that…

“We are already far behind them at this very point!”

(This is actually a massage for my old self, in a way!) w

As I mentioned earlier,

“having English knowledge” and “to be able to use the English knowledge you have acquired”are “two different skills“.

The reason why I stated earlier that it was very “dangerous” to just keep storing knowledge in your brain is because…

if you keep inputting what you have learnt without outputting them, your ideal, which has been created by the repetition of an act of inputting will be well-established in your head, while no progress has been made with the skills of outputting your knowledge in reality, and the gap between the “ideal” and the “reality” will become bigger and bigger…

And as a result, the selection of your vocabularies in your head (none of them you have ever used) will prevent you from making timely reaction to other people’s remarks or simply you’ll become more hesitant to throw yourself into the conversation because youget too worried about making a small mistake!

image by Brett Jordan

And you will fall into a vicious circle of not making any move for “outputting” but going back to “inputting”…

And moreover, those untouched stored knowledge will eventually become hard and get stuck in your brain, so you won’t be able to get them out through your mouth.

Therefore, it is reasonable to apply your knowledge (outputting), while it’s still fresh.

Creating an environment for outputting ➡︎ “Self-talk”

image by Pezibear

“OK, but wait for a minute.

I understood that ”inputting” and “outputting” should be carried out with a good balance but how can I implement “outputting” while there is nobody I can speak to?

I am not studying abroad, and have no English-speaking friends over here!”

Well, you are absolutely right. But let’s think a little bit here…

When it comes to “conversation” we’ve got this picture of more than one person exchanging their opinions or their impression of some topic, haven’t we?

But haven’t you ever heard a phrase such as “contributing to the conversation” or “to establish a conversation” ?

Conversation is basically an “interactive” affair… that means before it reaches interactive stage, it must start from non-interactive stage where one person is simply giving opinion or saying some kind of greeting words.

So, this means, we can say that…

conversation is only formed at the point where somebody reacts to the other person’s remark,

can’t we?

In a nutshell, “outputting” is always carried out before conversation is getting established.

Besides, we sometimes catch the scenes where the conversation is seemingly being established but the fact is that there is no interaction going on, and people are just saying whatever they feel like to…

We might find similar situations in an interview of politicians or excited mature ladies’ lunch time conversation.

My wife is certainly making her way to get to this level! w

In conclusion, “outputting” is fundamentally no different from “self-talk” regardless of people’s reaction to whatever you say.

image by Phil Hearing

It is also said that “writing things down” is another form of “outputting”.

This is something I am pointing out in the kindle book I have published, which is the fact that…

“writing” is non-interactive action until somebody actually reads it.

The skill of writing can be developed in proportion to the amount you write… just like people who are involved in online business practice writing repeatedly to master their copywriting skill.

So, why don’t people apply “self-talk” for their speaking practice which method is practically the same as “writing down your idea” while both are the same “outputting” action?

Well, the reason for this could be pretty obvious…

“Speaking” involves noise/voice, therefore unlike the act of writing, people might overhear what you say.

There is a fear that people might label you as a “crackpot” at some point…

But anyway, we now know that…

“Speaking”, which is an act of “outputting”, can be made possible without having anybody to speak to!

So, all you have to do is to create an environment where you can talk to yourself with nobody around you to suspect that you are a mad person.

Regarding the matter of creating an environment for yourself, if you are single and live alone, I have to say that you already have a great advantage.

Due to the advent of the internet, the world has become more globalized, and now that anybody can send their information to the world.

Taking the fact of the “arrival of individual’s age” and the “current position of Japan as a country in the world” into account, we better regard ourselves as “earth-men/women” before regarding only as “Japanese”, and spend some proportion of time a day for speaking English as “earth language”to develop our communication skill, because it will be crucially important in the very near future.

Let us have a sense of…

“earth-men/women speak earth language”

in ourselves, and adapt the “custom of self-talk” to blend in our everyday life, so that speaking in English will become just a normal thing for us.

Finally, we occasionally hear criticism about “self-talk” such as…

  • You can only output what you already know.
  • Without having actual person’s reaction to what you say, things will be unrealistic.

however, with the method of self-talk, you can realize what vocabulary/expression to input at the point you have failed to express what you wanted to say, and also you can pronounce English sentences that come up to your head without any pressure that you generally get from the presence of somebody…

So, why don’t we set about this wonderful practicing method?


*You can read this blog post in Japanese from the link below.

👉 【今や常識】英語スピーキング上達に欠かせない”独り言英語”《英語汁 第6号》