Sunday, September 9, 2012

Have a Confession to Make...

Hello again from Singapore!

I've had a crazy week last week workload-wise and couldn't get much studying done, to my great dismay.  As I'm not yet in the study mode I think I'll take it easy for the rest of the weekend.

Anyway, I'm writing this post to make a little confession.

For a self-professed polyglot who has been learning multiple languages for decades, I am not fluent in any of the languages that I speak, including Japanese, my mother tongue.

The primary issue that I'm having is that, for some unknown reason, I just cannot speak continuously for an extended period of time in whatever language I speak, because I always need to stop to think about what to say next when I'm done with my current sentence.

This particular inability in my speech does not affect me negatively at all on most occasions, whether be it in private life or at work, as I can carry a conversation with my colleagues and clients with perfect ease, and I can always get things done with my choppy sentences.  Furthermore, when I write emails at the office, I often get commended on my writing style for its organized structure and clarity. 

However, when I'm required to do a presentation for a few minutes where I have to speak continuously without anybody else cutting in, I always have great difficulty.  I don't have a stuttering problem, but I just cannot talk at length with a smooth continuous flow of speech, so normally what I do is to pre-script my speech and recite it verbatim in front of my audience, rendering it sounding somewhat labored and unnatural.

For the record, all of my YouTube videos that I've uploaded so far had been pre-scripted and rehearsed umpteen times before uploading; there is no way that I could have improvised those speeches.

Frankly, I have no idea as to what is causing this deficiency (I know that "deficiency" might be too strong a word for this, but I don't know how else to put it).  I know that it has nothing to do with the size of my vocabulary, because I've seen children of preschool age expressing themselves far more eloquently than I do with their limited vocabulary.  If you let them be, they can talk their heads off.

Could it be that I have some mental blocks which prevent me from expressing myself freely, by vocalizing whatever that pops into my mind?  I know that I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and I feel really uncomfortable every time I say a sentence that is incoherent or grammatically unsound, and I try to avoid it happening on some subconscious level, thereby preventing my speech from flowing in a smooth manner.

Whatever the cause may be, I'd like to overcome it with lots of practice. 

What I have been doing recently is to engage in a lot of self-talk.  I think having monologue sessions is an extremely effective method for building up one's fluency in a foreign language, sometimes even more so than having conversations with native speakers,  as the learner can monopolize the time all to himself, thereby maximizing the opportunity for actually speaking the language. 

Also, as I've already mentioned in my previous post, whenever I do self-talk, I always make a point of listening to my own voice with an IC recorder, in order to objectively assess my voice.  I listen out for places in my speech where I sound different from native English speakers, and I try to rectify these differences on the spot by repeating them again and again.

I wouldn't mind seeking some professional help as regards my difficulty in speech, but I have yet to find a training coach who can give me effective guidance.  In the meantime I will continue to do my own explorations for ways to enhance my speech.

Anyway, there you have it, my very first confession on this blog.  Thank you all for reading.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  Talk to you again soon!


Keith said...

I think everybody is fluent in their native language. Not so many people can speak eloquently, though.

Still looking forward to your next video.

Uncle Polyglot said...

Hi Keith,

Thank you for your comment! I think it depends on how you define fluency. In my case, in whatever language I speak, I always need to pause and think, which slows down the flow of speech. I hope to be able to overcome this problem with a lot of practice. Please keep a lookout for my next video, and you'll see the results! :-)

R said...

Je ne sais pas ... mais peut-etre DNA? je pense.

j'adore "parler couramment" aussi.
si vous trouvez le moyen, dites-nous, s'il vous plait.


Uncle Polyglot said...

R, thank you for your comment. I'm pressed for time, so please excuse me for replying in English. I don't think it's got anything to do with my DNA, as my father can express himself quite eloquently and at length in Japanese. It's got more to do with my own personality I guess. Either way, I'm determined to change it one way or another, and will continue to upload videos on my YouTube channel to demonstrate my progress along the way. Please keep a lookout. :-)

R said...

Je vous remerci!

I mean...巧言令色少仁的DNA of Japanese^^. There are a lot of Chinese in Singapore. Do they have 仁??

Uncle Polyglot said...

Sorry, R, I don't understand what you've written in Chinese. What do you mean exactly?

R said...


C'est le mot de 孔子.

J'aime beaucoup Singapour et y suis visitee trois fois.
Bon courage et bonne chance! ;)

Edwin Tay said...

wow !! すごい!たくさん言語が話せることが見事だね!僕はシンガポール出身のエドウィンだ。始めまして、今日、日本語を勉強しているけど、何か、Uncle Polyglotのフランス語のように上手になりたい!


Uncle Polyglot said...


Chiro-kun said...





Uncle Polyglot said...







Adrian said...

are you still in Singapore...? I am Malaysian, I hope I can learn Japanese from you. my email is