Fun is an important ingredient when practicing speaking. If possible, try not to take yourself too seriously when speaking. After all, using Spanish is a learning process. You can even take your Spanish beyond work, and maybe to a Spanish-speaking domain: ordering food and drinks, arranging tours and activities, making exclamations while watching dramatic telenovelas, or traveling and complimenting southern iguanas on their suntans.
Benefits of Spanish for speech therapy
Spanish learned in more intense environments may have focused on quantifying (grading) your Spanish speaking in an academic way. However, when using it to facilitate communication in speech therapy, there is less pressure on saying long sentences perfectly. You can focus on modeling simple Spanish with your clients, students and families. Spanish can be just one of many tools, serving as a rapport-establishing bonus.
Tip for best speaking results: record yourself on your phone or computer early and often. Although listening to yourself might not feel great, you’ll get used to it. While you don’t need hard data on how you sound and your progress, recording yourself intermittently at whatever type of speaking practice you execute is invaluable. It shows you the nature of your accent, how long your pauses actually last (in comparison to how long they may feel when you’re recalling words) and can be compared to native speakers or more advanced students.
Fun Practice Ideas:
Actually speaking Spanish in other environments will require greeting conversations and explaining yourself, which you can practice with online pals. Ask people interesting and fun questions and you’ll enjoy it more. Some ideas include: pets, hobbies, pet peeves, plans after winning the lottery, silly fears, embarrassing moments (include language gaffes) and, well, their hopes and dreams. (In the other direction, some apps let you specify who can contact you very well, so you could allow only people of your own gender, from certain places or with certain proficiencies).
Conversation groups & partners
As with listening, conversation groups are the best way to practice with others learning Spanish, and maybe even natives. Your focus should be on meaningful communication and these groups are usually a fun way to get meaningful practice. They may be set up like a happy hour or a game night. It’s a great way to meet people interested in Spanish, who may invite you to other events for practice or culture. Or it may be an online group you can join in your sweatpants.
For SLPs, having a person to role play with is crucial for your face-to-face skills to take off when working with a client, student, or family. ( Try our Case Study Group!)
Move objects games
The human brain learns language faster when gesturing, acting out vocabulary, or responding to prompts or commands. Also, many people have an aversion to bookwork or computer work (especially on their days off), or just want to move. So, it’s perfect that language games that get you moving are a great way to learn a language.
A great way to practice is to do a low-key version of the game Simon Says. With a partner, set out some objects and give each other instructions or commands to move objects, pick them up, drop them on the floor, or, say, put the pencil on top of the folder. You can do this alone by drawing slips of paper with instructions, then check a translation of what you did. With a partner, you can also do this is in reverse. Ask your partner to describe the action you already did with the objects. (If these directions seem unclear or abstract, pull up a video of Simon Says. You can make your own variation. The important thing is to ensure you have a way to check if your action matched the command.) Some board games or games for kids can be adapted to Spanish as well.
Respond to videos online
There are Spanish conversation videos online to help you practice. Another more creative possibility is to use a video of a simple interview (una entrevista) and pretend you are being interviewed. Sometimes there are transcripts available to help you detect the questions. You would pause the video to respond during the interviewee’s response. Or you could record your own questions & respond to them. This can be fun even when alone. You could respond with different emotions or personalities to the same video again to get more mileage out of it. Respond with: goofiness, elation, anger, sarcasm, flat affect, suspicion or surprise. Or respond while playing your favorite character from a show, like Phoebe from Friends or Michael Scott, the boss on The Office.
Your effort and creativity in putting yourself out there in speaking practice will be rewarded when you speak to a native with ease or facilitate beyond where English alone would get you. So don’t be shy, ¡usted va a hablar bien! –you are going to speak well-!