Updated: Apr 7, 2020
Learning to introduce ourselves is an all-time classic that I do cherish. It’s actually one of the first things I do when I start learning a new language, and one of the first challenges I give to my students.
Almost every interaction with a new person will start the same way: swap names, origin, area of study/work, how do you fill your spare time, why are you learning that language, why do you like their culture/country…
Obviously we’re going to use this presentation over and over, with just a few adjustments. So it seems like a good idea to prepare it well, and I could even say: to go all out to master it. This is going to be our moment in glory in all conversations for quite some time, so let’s give our all. Besides, the pronunciation and intonation training are really efficient with a piece of text that we can say over and over, without struggling with syntax, vocabulary or conjugation.
With proper preparation, this will give us the chance to feel confident during the first minute of the conversation, making us more at ease and also giving the other person a good first impression.
5 steps program:
We write down an interesting self-introduction in our mother tongue. Ideas about what we could talk about can be found above; better make it interesting and a bit special. We’re supposed to be below “conversational level”, so for once translating from one language to the other sounds like a good idea. Otherwise we would have to limit the vocabulary and structures we could use, which is counterproductive here.
We translate it as best as we can (with all help of dictionary, automatic translator and patient native speakers) and we have it corrected by native speakers (let’s not skip this step: there are resources like lang-8.com available for free if we don’t have any helpful friend).
We have a native speaker record it (again, it can be done online for free on sites like rhinospike.com). Preferably we ask the person to record it “as naturally as possible”, without overarticulating nor sounding like someone reading at a funeral.
We practice it. Like theater. This is our master piece, it needs to flow super naturally, with as much precision as possible given to pronunciation and intonation. I recommend to break it into thematic chunks rather than learning the whole of it as one block. We can change the order of the chunks, and go on practicing it every day. Recording ourselves might be a good idea as well.
Let’s use it on the field! Over and over.