Home > Journal, Motivation & Attitude > You Can Probably Speak More than You Think – Record a Video to Prove it!

You Can Probably Speak More than You Think – Record a Video to Prove it!

Catching those little moments of success. We’ve had these moments many times.
They feel good. right? Then you don’t want to miss them!

I finally recorded some videos of myself speaking various languages. This post is not necessarily about the videos themselves, but rather about the concept and what I discovered.

As you will see in a later post (once the videos are uploaded), I decided to begin recording videos so as to have a more concrete record of my progress. So far, I have recorded 8 videos:

  • 2 videos 10 months apart for both Mandarin and French
  • 1 video for Japanese, Korean, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Hindi each.
  • 1 video saying the numbers from 1-10 in 10 languages.

Sure, through the Mandarin and French videos, I noticed progress. However, this post is about a surprise – something else I ended up discovering.

I can speak more than I thought.

Maybe you will discover this yourself if you make your own videos!

Video Results

I knew my Chinese was capable enough, so my 24-minute video was not unexpected.

However, I’ve barely practiced my French after about 5 years, and my Japanese speaking is terrible after leaving it for Mandarin for 6 months. Although I’ve studied a lot of basics in Korean, I run a study group, and I’m even teaching some total beginners, I don’t consider my Korean to be at a conversation level. The results?

  • French: 36-minute video.
  • Japanese: 37-minute video.
  • Korean: 27-minute video.

If that’s not “being able to speak a language” in some way or other, than what is? 

Although I was beginning to push my limits in Korean, I did not stop because I ran out of things to say, but rather because I was aware the videos were getting long. (The videos of the other 3 languages, however, were shorter and indeed ended because I ran out of things to say.)

Now, this is not saying I was speaking fluidly and effortlessly. On the contrary; I stumbled and struggled and a good speaker would probably say what I said in a half or third of the time, and a native speaker would probably make this look like a joke and say it all in a few minutes.

However, the knowledge and ability is there. I simply need to keep practicing to smooth it out some more. I still wouldn’t say my Korean is at any real conversation level, but I managed to talk about who I am, what I do, some of my friends, and my language study, so that’s saying something (slight pun intended).

The Take-Away

If you’re too uncomfortable with the idea of speaking much with others when you can barely say anything, Benny Lewis at FluentIn3Months still recommends to “Speak from Day 1” – primarily to enforce the fact that many people will never feel totally ready to speak to others (because they never decide they are ready or they give up before they get there), or simply that it may take a long time, and you’ll miss out on the benefits of speaking earlier.

I think recording an unscripted video and speaking as much as you can is a good way to encourage that step. Show yourself what you can do. If you only know some phrases and words, practice putting them together, and do your best to actually tell something – even if it’s made up and just to practice what you know. If you know more vocabulary and grammar so that you’re able to put together at least a small variety of sentences, try for the honest, natural speech, and don’t be upset that it may result in you not using more advanced vocabulary and grammar you already know. If you’re beyond that point, you should be able to speak natural, related sentences as well as steer them toward more advanced or new phrases you want to practice.

Relax; try not to think too hard and just say what you can – but if you come across something you really want to try, or want to stretch what you know to say something more complex, go for it! No one’s rushing you. It’s your own time; take off the pressure and see what you can do. You’ll probably be as surprised as I was!

Here’s Benny Lewis’ own article on making videos.

The videos will be coming soon! Actually, if you go peruse my YouTube channel, you’ll find the year-old Mandarin video. :)

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