Blog 015. (English version)
I declared in an introduction of the last issue of “Eigo-jiru [vol.6]” that I was going to add some more articles which will be particularly focused on “Speaking” in English.
I would love to put it into practice right away, but there are a couple of things I want you to know about before we start, so I am going to write about them…
(The practice will start from next issue of “Eigo-jiru” onwards)
The first thing is about… what will happen in our head by making a daily habit of “talking to yourself in English”.
(You can actually measure the progress of your speaking skill by yourself, once you know about this)
And secondary, I will write about what we can do to glue “Soliloquy in English” to our daily life as a habit so that it won’t come off easily.
Therefore, please continue reading.
By the way, the last issue “Eigo-jiru [vol.6]”, in which the concept of learning method “Soliloquy in English” was written, is a sort of starting point of this “Soliloquy…” series, so please check it out, if you haven’t.
The system that starts functioning once “Soliloquy in English” has become a habit.
First of all, once you have made a habit of “talking to yourself in English”, I can say that bringing your English-speaking level up to the stage where you can comfortably deal with daily affairs is not a mission impossible at all.
You will probably start with simple daily phrases you already know (and with adding some new vocabularies as the situations you will come across require), but as you go on repeating the same phrases, they begin to stick in your mind, and eventually your brain will start recognising their patterns.
You will find English phrases automatically coming out of your mouth at some point and the system of “Thinking in English” will be established subsequently, and then it will gradually start functioning.
Establishing a system of “thinking in English” is a crucial matter.
When you try to speak in English while you do not have a habit of it, what you want to say will come up in Japanese at first, and then you translate them into English in your head, and finally you let them go out of your mouth…
This is the natural process you will go through.
On the contrary,
if you speak in English regularly, what you would like to say will come up in English, and you construct the sentences in English in your head.
You do not need to go through the process of translating Japanese into English.
Once you get to this stage, you can measure your progress by the feeling of how the system of “thinking in English” is working smoothly.
Some people will be able to reach this stage within half a year, but unfortunately, once you neglect to maintain the habit of soliloquy in English, the system will get rusty.
Just dropping the habit of outputting will put you in such a situation, therefore it is natural to think that those who don’t have a habit of outputting at all will not be able to speak no matter how much vocabularies they input, because it the same thing as not running the motor.
The things you can do to maintain new habit ①
So, how do you keep new habit unfading?
In my case, whenever I try to form a new habit, I usually manage following things so that it won’t disappear easily.
① To make yourself understand the fact logically like… if you don’t start doing it right away, it will put yourself in an unfavourable position, and you will horribly regret later on.
② Use something visually appealing.
Regarding ①, it won’t last, if you are vaguely thinking like “ I want to be able to speak English!”
With this sort of attitude, you will probably be like… stop making progress at the point of having learnt the shape of F chord, when it comes to playing the guitar…
We never get serious until we are in great necessity.
So, it’s important to find out the reason why you still need to learn to be able to speak in English while you live in Japan.
I check Twitter regularly and often get surprised to see lots of young people posting information to help each other, and the information is exchanged between different generations as well.
This is simply amazing, because the scene like this has only been developed over the last 15 years or so…
Considering how fast things are changing within such a short period, and the fact that, with the globalization of the communication industry, there is practically no online borders between the countries as long as you can deal with things in English, it is quite obvious that the time we should individually regard ourselves as an “Earth person” (or simply mankind) before we regard ourselves as “Japanese” has come!
And since “English” has been recognised and used as a “global language”, if you don’t speak “Earth language” as an “Earth person” you will end up missing out lots of opportunities.
At the end of the day, whether you speak English or not will have a great effect on individual’s life, therefore, considering the future economic situation in Japan, we better learn to speak in English with urgency.
Learning to speak in English with online courses could be one of the best ways, but I personally think that it’s important to have a sense of “living with English language” rather than “spending some time and money for learning to speak”.
What I meant here is to spare some percentage of your day for living as an “Earth person” and speak “Earth language”, instead of living whole day as a Japanese and speaking in Japanese.
So, essentially this is the core part of what I recommend people to carry out with the method of “soliloquy in English”, however incorporating this part as a habit into your daily life can be tricky for some people, I believe…
As for this issue, a tactic of appealing to the visual senses which I mentioned earlier works effectively, so I will explain it with some examples in the next section.
The things you can do to maintain new habit ②
With regards to incorporating a new habit into your current life, no matter how carefully you plan your time and set about working on it determinedly, there are always “other priorities” coming up to interrupt your schedule.
If it’s happening just for one day, you can easily go back to your routine.
However, this “other priorities” occasionally come in with a few days in a row or sometimes as a bunch within a mouth with no mercy.
You eventually get less motivated, and the passion you had initially fades away, and it’s quite common to find that the habit which was just about to be established have been buried under the successive events of “other priorities” before you realise it.
In order to avoid such a thing to be happening, we sometimes use the method of appealing to the visual senses, such as writing down on the paper or even on your own hands.
When I applied this method while I was putting “soliloquy in English” into practice, I found it absolutely effective, therefore here I will exclusively tell you how I arranged the things.
To put it simply, what I did was sticking some notes on the spots where you would never fail to take daily action, such as…
“opening the door of the fridge”,
“taking tableware or a bottle of seasoning from the cupboard”,
“setting the alarm clock”
and so on.
(It’s impossible to miss them unless you deliberately look away!)
And the content of the notes is basically a couple of questions written in English.
For example, the one I put on the door of the fridge was…
① What are you taking out of the fridge? (fridge = refrigerator)
②And what do you use it for?
Each time you reach the point to open the door you need to answer these questions aloud.
And if the answer was… let’s say… orange juice, I had to say…
① I’m taking orange juice out.
② I’m just going to drink some because I’m thirsty.
Or if it was eggs…
① I’m taking some eggs out.
②I use them for cooking my dinner./ I’m going to cook a Spanish omelette tonight.
…something like these.
So, you basically write down some questions in English on a piece of paper and put it on the spot and answer them aloud each time you take action, but I highly recommend you reading a question aloud, too.
In the case of alarm clock…
① What time do you need to wake up tomorrow?
And the answers for these could be…
① I need to wake up tomorrow at 5:30am.
② It’s because the Tube is not working tomorrow, so I need to take buses. (Tube = Underground)
They take longer to get to my work.
By asking the same questions and answering them aloud repeatedly, they will become like templates.
Take A out of B.
What do you (use / need, etc.) it for?
Starting with “It’s because…” for “Why”-type of questions, etc.
And the answer to the questions cannot be the same all the time, so this exercise includes a bit of “thinking”.
You will probably have to go through the process of thinking in Japanese first and then translate it into English in your head before you let it go out of your mouth in the beginning, however as your brain starts to recognise its pattern, the things will gradually come up in English in your head!
And once the pattern has settled, you can change the questions to something different.
By visualising the task of English-speaking exercise, which is directly related to your daily actions, it is unlikely that you will fail to maintain your new habit.
The action of outputting you make on each spot might be small, but when it accumulates the effect of it will be eruptive!
Anyway, this is it for this time and many thanks for reading up to this point.