March 14, 2022

The crucial exercise when you learn a language

by Mateusz Wiącek

If you are not creating your own content while learning a foreign language, you are missing a huge opportunity / crucial ingredient. 

In this short video I am going to tell you why, how to create this content and how to put it into practice.

My name is Mateusz and I am co-founder of Taalhammer. I have spent the last 30 years learning and teaching foreign languages, and I see a lot of students missing this crucial ingredient — not practising conversation.

And it is not about sophisticated conversations. It is more about trying to use your very limited language in real situations and finding the courage to do it despite feeling uncomfortable and making mistakes.

Benefits are numerous, first of all you get a motivation booster which is really important on a long journey of language learning. Second, it is very likely that you will remember elements of that conversation for a very very long time because you operate in a stressful situation and the likelihood of remembering is much higher.


Now, the easiest way to have such conversations is to talk about things you have a lot to say about in your native language.

But if you are just using a book or app, most of the topics are not relevant for you. Of course there are many topics that are so important that everybody needs to learn them in the beginning, like greetings, directions, talking about the weather etc.  

So if you are not working on your own topics i.e. vocabulary or example sentences from the beginning, you are missing a huge opportunity to speed up the whole process of learning. 

Worst thing is that you put your whole learning at risk since we’re not putting ourselves in a position to be able to have early conversations.

How to use it 

Having a conversation with a stranger is a great exercise.

For instance let’s use the situation at a bike shop in the Netherlands and let’s see how quickly you can prepare yourself for such a conversation. What words and sentences would you need for that? 

First of all some words like “bike” or “big” or “cheap”. Add some variations like “bigger” or “cheaper”, or phrases like “second hand” or “something bigger”.

Next start adding sentences: 

  • I’m looking for a second hand bike.
  • Do you have a cheap second-hand bike?
  • Do you have something bigger? 

The list can go on. After a few minutes you can have a long list of words and many variations of sentences. 

Memorize it by heart and you are ready to have a conversation in a bike shop.

Replicate it to other topics and situations, and you will be fluent in a language before your notice.

How to do it in Taalhammer

The Taalhammer app has been designed to support you in this preparation. 

In the Editor you can search through examples. If you don’t like the existing examples you can always translate with one click — it is connected to Google translate and other translation services. The advantage here is that everything you searched for ends up in your repetitions. Ten days later you’ll remember it all. 

It worked really well with thousands of users.

Sign up and try it out for free

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