Olá! ¡Hola! Bonjour!
One of my favorite techniques to practice a foreign language is having “Shower Conversations.”
I first heard about shower conversations from a Ted Talk I watched by Sid Efromovich when I was in college.
It’s an easy concept. Have a two-sided conversation with yourself in the language you’re learning….while you take a shower.
For example, when I was learning Brazilian Portuguese I would have a conversation with myself about which beach I should go to in Rio de Janeiro, Ipanema or Copacabana. I would say:
Charlie: Quero pegar uma praia hoje. (I want to go to the beach today.)
Brazilian Charlie: Isso é uma boa ideia (That’s a good idea.)
Charlie: Você recomenda Ipanema ou Copacabana? Vou sozinho. (Do you recommend Ipanema or Copacabana? I’m going alone.)
Brazilian Charlie: Cara, Copacabana vai estar muito cheio hoje. Recomendo Ipanema, posto 10! (Dude, Copacabana is going to be packed. I recommend Ipanema, post 10!)
You can choose any topic – from haggling in a street market in Lima to asking for directions to a restaurant in Paris, the important part is that you’re engaged.
Doing this forces you to have both sides of a conversation. They will quickly point out any gaps you have in your knowledge. You’ll be surprised by the things you discover by doing this.
As Sid says, it’s easy to ask for directions in a foreign language, but how about giving directions?