So, the tutors I’ve used in the past all do conversation lessons where I talk freely but I struggle to find things to talk about so they start off great then I get to a stage where we end up just talking about the same things in simple sentences because I don’t know what else to talk about. My last tutor moved back to Japan and now her free schedule doesn’t line up with mine due to time differences and my most recent tutor is changing Jobs to be a flight attendant so I’ll soon be looking for a new tutor.
As a result, I’m wondering if anyone has any suggestions for possible tutors who could help me to improve my speaking skills in a more structured way or if anyone can suggest alternatives to help me improve while I look for a new tutor? Or alternatively, if anyone can suggest what sort of structure might be good to try with a new tutor once I’ve found them if they are just doing free conversation again.
Any thoughts, suggestions, advice or help is appreciated.
Speaking level is upper beginner but there are still grammar points I struggle a bit with understanding where and how to use them.
I’m still studying via textbooks as well as listening to native speed audiobooks, podcasts etc though sometimes those are too fast for me if it’s words I don’t know.
Things I’ve done in the past when needing a topic:
bring a news article to discuss
describe the plot of whatever book or tv show I’m reading/watching
try to explain a specific experience with lots of detail (ex: I was riding the bus and the weather was X and the bus was very crowded and I overheard the person in front of me talking on their phone about Y). This is mostly a grammar / vocab search exercise.
get yourself a list of Japanese holidays. ask questions about them. try to explain, in Japanese, what you understand about them. The tutor will most likely have their own opinions on the holiday and this will make the conversation flow.
Come with a prepared piece of writing you’ve done and ask to be corrected. Choose a topic that’s harder for you to talk about spontaneously. Having the writing in front of you and the tutor’s corrections should help.
I’ve never done super structured classes that I enjoyed, so no recommendations unfortunately, but hopefully that helps with free talk!
I don’t have any experience with them, but I have heard them mentioned before and they seem to have a curriculum for speaking. Focusing on different topics in each lesson, so you don’t get stuck and you also don’t have to be the one thinking of a topic. And there seems to be classes for all levels.
what I often do with myself is have self conversations in Japanese about things happening around me, especially random thoughts or if it’s something on the news or something I debate with myself (the last one is super useful because it gives the most variety in themes and vocab)
I summarize/write down some of the things I end up looking up simply because I try to formulate the sentence in my head but in general it makes a good practice later when I talk with friends about these things because I use it as reference and a lot of these things are super specific and hence not something I read/see in movies at all
(I can give an example that just recently I got to talking about military reserve forces out of nowhere out of this lol)
edit: (never did structured class so cant help with that, sorry, hopefully this helps anyway)
Thanks, I think it would help my vocabulary and also help me to learn how to make more connections between sentences. My lack of decent vocabulary seems to be my biggest drawback as it limits what I can talk about.
This, unfortunately, is a curse that will be with you for a while yet. It’s best if you figure out 1-3 areas that you are likely to encounter and focus on deepening your vocabulary there. If you are not interested in politics - it’s unlikely you’ll engage in discussions about it. But if you love gaming, you are likely wanting to tell someone about your favourite games, etc.
(Also: even professional interpreters look up vocabulary prior to engagements - just in case. )
I think it’s not knowing what to look up or how to find out if it’s correct without making an absolute fool of myself too many words, not enough experience to figure it out and being afraid of making too many mistakes in my current frame of mind.
Picking a few topics and learning from those is a great idea though. I can then use that vocabulary to practice the grammar as well and then use that as a stepping stone from there.
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