From the very first day you crack open a language textbook or log in to a language learning website, you can speak a new language.
My very first day in a language class
I remember the very first day in my Japanese language class. It was a community class held once a week and it was super casual. Not very many students either only about 6 students were there the first day.
One of the very first things we did was go over introductions. We learned hello, my name is, nice to meet you. So basically the whole conversation was less than a minute. We had to go to everyone in our class and give the same introduction and listen to the same introduction.
It was simple and teacher explained pronunciation, body language, and also the words that a male would use versus a female. I used the exact same conversation many times afterwards in my learning journey. Actually, I always use this “script” when I meet someone new who speaks Japanese.
Types of first day conversations
Long before I got serious about learning Japanese I would just dabble with the language. I made flash cards with simple phrases like good morning, what’s your name, etc. I didn’t make a lot of cards, I was just doing it for fun, nothing too intense. I practiced on my own how to say the words, sometimes in front of a mirror. Not being very serious at all.
I was fortunate too in that there was a coworker who was Japanese and spoke the language. She was not a tutor nor did I ever use her as a resource. It didn’t really matter to me since I was just having fun playing around with a language. And one of the first things I said to her in Japanese was nice weather isn’t it. It was a super simple conversation lasting less than 10 seconds, but I did speak in Japanese and she understood and responded in Japanese. Kinda cool if you ask me.
That was just a simple phrase and I was able to get my point across. I was speaking in a different language, it felt like I was using a special coded message that only me and my coworker could decode.
So many other phrases could be used on your first day of conversation. What’s your name, how old are you, where do you live. Really it’s only question and answer, but it is a conversation that can be held on your very first day.
Just a simple chat
There’s no need to talk politics or the economy on your first day, just a simple chat to show you are learning.
I even think that the conversation could just be made up. A usual beginning phrase people learn is how much does it cost? Well, you could ask the person you are talking to, point and ask how much is that? Maybe you are pointing at their book, and sure you’re not really interested in the price, but you are talking in new language. It is just practice for you and it’s a verbal exchange showing that you can communicate.
I remember saying I was happy to new Japanese language partner and it was sort of random. I wanted to say I was happy to have met them and thank you for taking the time to chat with me. Way too advanced for me, so what I ended up saying was part English part Japanese. I said “I was” in English and “happy” in Japanese. Really super simple but it got the point across, I was putting my hand on my chest and then pointing to them, using my body language to get my point across, And it made sense to them, it was a simple chat.
Gather your resources
I have always preferred to write things out.
Grab your Japanese textbook, get on the computer and start looking for those words or phrases that come up in first time conversations.
I believe that most beginner textbooks always start with those introductory conversations. Just follow along and learn those phrases, and you can honestly start talking in a new language on your first day.
I’m not saying that you can become an expert on your very first day. No one will be. But you really could have a very simple conversation in a new language on that very first day. You will be able to talk about the latest critique of your favorite sports team later in your journey.
For now talk about the weather, is it hot or cold? Talk about the color of you car, how many kids you have, and it may be totally obvious to the other person what you are trying to say. Yes I can see your car, yes I see how many kids you have, but all you are doing is trying out your new language on your first day.