Even though I have had a few interactions with my mentor, there are a few tips I have found useful when it comes to practicing speaking during our mentoring sessions. Below are five useful tips:
- Just do it. I used to find speaking Lingala very hard because I felt like my tongue was heavy and I was not accustomed to the way of speaking. At the beginning of my session, I was a little shy to speak but once we got in swing of things I realize that this would be one of the few opportunities where can speak and not really feel the pressure that comes with speaking a language perfectly.
- Do not be shy to make mistakes. Before starting my mentoring session, I used to feel very shy and would always be very conscious when trying to speak Lingala. Over the few days I have interacted with my mentor, feel more confident and also I am more willing to make mistakes. Because I already speak a few words in Lingala, always make sure to double check with my mentor when I hear a pronunciation that is different from the one I know. This usually provides my mentor an opportunity to help me understand the difference between how words are written versus how they are spoken to help safe “energy” when speaking. Through this practice, I have been able to better understand how words are written and why they differ when hit comes to speech.
- Take advantage of any opportunity to speak. I usually repeat every word my mentor says, especially when it s a word that is unfamiliar to me or is pronounced very differently from how I pronounce words. I personally try and repeat as many times as possible and sometimes even structure my own sentences when I can. Because I also have a few words or expressions that I already know, my mentoring sessions are usually another opportunity to bring these up (when relevant) to help me contextualize the new words I am learning.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat. Similar to my point above, I always repeat what my mentor says especially when we are just going over new words like we did in the past few weeks. The more repetition I do, the more likely I am to retain words that were introduced during the lesson.
- Record and listen later. One thing I would recommend is to record your lessons so that you can listen to them later. While I have not bee able to do this yet, I think this is a great way to be reflexive and learn by imitation because you can hear yourself pronouncing words and your mentor pronouncing them as well which I think would really help with pronunciation and tonality. I am still wrapping my head around Lingala tonality so fo me this would be one way of nailing this down. If you cannot record you lessons then using the voice note feature in an application like WhatsApp is very useful in helping you practice speaking (in my case tonality) even when I am not in our session.
All the above really help me when it comes my ISP segment on speaking. Unless I brace myself and have a conversation in Lingala with friends, family and strangers, the most speaking I do is with my mentor. By not being shy, just ripping the band aid of and speaking, taking any advantage of speaking during our sessions, repeating as many times during mentoring and also recording my mentor, it has enabled me to train my tongue and ears by being more accustomed to speaking Lingala (even if it’s only words and short phrases so far). One thing I need to work on is tonality and having recordings (right now I use voice notes on WhatsApp) has enabled me to work on this even outside of our mentoring sessions which has been great. If anything, don’t give up. Just keep at it and one day things will click. Trust the process!