Hi, I'm Vanessa from SpeakEnglishWithVanessa.com.
Can you understand English but you can't speak well?
Let's talk about it.
Have you ever wondered this why in the world can I understand English, but I can't speak
as well as I understand?
Today I'd like to have a little heart to heart conversation with you to talk about how this
happened and what you can do about it.
Let's start by thinking about your English classes from elementary school, middle school,
high school, or even in college.
What was the main thing that you did in those classes?
Did you listen to the teacher?
Maybe listen to some audios.
Did you write the correct verb tense in your grammar book?
Hopefully you could occasionally use your speaking muscles, but if there's 5, 10, 15,
even 20 people in your class, those opportunities to speak are going to be pretty formulated
Maybe the teacher asked you how many times per week do you go to the gym and you answered,
I go to the gym twice a week.
It's something, it's a good start.
But if there's so many students, the teacher doesn't have the chance to have a natural
conversation for five minutes with each student.
And when the teacher asks you a question, even if it's a simple question, like how many
times per week did you go to the gym?
You're speaking in front of 14 other people in your class, that's like a presentation
that's really scary.
And it's not what happens when you're just having a one on one conversation with someone
at dinner or at a coffee shop.
Giving a presentation, speaking in front of other people is often our biggest fear.
So starting like this in an English class can be really difficult and it's not a good
way to improve your speaking skills.
So the first reason why you can understand English, but you can't speak well, is well,
because it's not your fault.
You weren't trained with a one-on-one kind English teacher who asked you questions and
patiently listened and made you feel comfortable.
Most of us didn't learn like that.
So you weren't prepared in this way.
It's not your fault that you didn't have this conversational training practice from the
beginning of your English studies.
How can you fix this issue?
Well, I'd like you to reflect on the ways that you learn English now.
What are all of the things you do?
How many of those activities include listening to English?
How many of those activities include speaking English?
If you need any ideas about how to have speaking activities, whether you live in an English
speaking country or whether you are just at home in your native country.
Check out this video I made up here about how to start speaking anywhere right now.
Even though those English classes weren't your fault, you do have some responsibility,
so let's talk about that.
Have you ever talked with a two year old child?
I have a two year old son and it's beautiful to see the way his language skills are exploding.
He can say things like, I want to put my shoes on or let's go eat some tomatoes.
Those sentences are relatively simple, but do you know what?
He can understand more complex and incredibly fast sentences, but he doesn't necessarily
use them himself, but he can understand them.
So if I said to him, "All right, it's time to hop in the car and head over to the store
to pick up some veggies for dinner."
He would understand everything that I said.
He might not willingly go to the car, but he would understand everything I said and
he couldn't imitate exactly what I said, though.
He doesn't use those same expressions.
This means that his listening comes first and then his speaking is following after that.
For the past two years, he's been listening and listening and listening just like you've
been doing, just like you're doing right now in this lesson.
He started off by making baby noises and then babbling nonsense words and then he started
saying some important words like mama, dada, kitty, milk.
We all know this, right?
That babies start off slow and then they incrementally increase their language skills.
Kids practice speaking for a long time before they actually can speak fluently.
For example, the other day he said, "I touch the cat with my apple."
Can you spot the mistake?
He should've said, "I am touching the cat with my apple."
He was rubbing his apple on the cat's fur, but in this situation he didn't know how to
use the correct verb tense, but he was just trying.
He was putting those words together.
Later, he said, "I see a bear chasing a dog" What he should have said was, "I saw a bear
chasing a dog."
Using this irregular past tense verb saw, but he used it in the present tense.
This is actually true, we saw a giant bear chasing our neighbor's dog across the front
This is the glories of living in the mountains.
I tell you those two stories because it's our biological way to learn language, to listen
first and speak later.
So you just need to get beyond listening and go to speaking.
We can learn a lot from kids, especially their carefree attitude about making mistakes.
My son doesn't use the past tense often and he doesn't care.
He just tries to put sentences together and I hope that you can learn a lot from that.
So what can you do about this issue?
Well, I want you to take the attitude of, I don't care if I make a mistake.
When you were in your classroom English classes and you made a mistake in front of the other
students, if you answered your teacher's question incorrectly, it is terrifying to be told,
"Oh, that's not right.
You should say this instead."
You're being corrected in front of your peers, in front of your friends.
No one likes that.
That's a really stressful situation.
So even though you've been trained in school to fear making mistakes, you're here on YouTube
now because you know that you want to learn English in a different way.
That previous method didn't work for you.
You are opening your mind to new ways to learn English.
If you'd like some tips about how to speak without fear, just like children, I recommend
checking out this video I made up here called How to Speak Fluently Without Fear.
It gives my number one tip to help you relax, have no stress, and feel confident when you
I hope that this heart to heart talk has helped you to realize why you can understand more
English than you can actually speak.
It's not your fault.
That's how you were trained in your English classes, in the classroom, but now it's your
turn to take responsibility, to take action and forget about making mistakes.
Just try to speak.
Helping your brain to forget about mistakes will help you to reach your goal, which is
speaking English confidently.
Before we go, I have a question for you.
What speaking activities do you like to do?
I have a lot of videos that give speaking activity ideas, but it's always great to learn
from other English learners because you're doing the same thing.
You're all learning English, so make sure you read other comments to get some ideas.
Thank you so much for learning English with me and I'll see you again next Friday for
a new lesson here on my YouTube channel.
The next step is to download my free ebook, Five Steps to Becoming a Confident English
You'll learn what you need to do to speak confidently and fluently.
Don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more free lessons.
Thanks so much.