If 80% Of Our Communication Is Self Talk, Then What Do You Say?

It is said (though I have not been able to find empirical corroboration for it) that 80% of our communication is self talk. That means that only 20% of the communication that we engage in is with others.

In Japan, learners are often told to try to use their English language skills with a “foreigner.” This makes the likelihood that they will use their foreign language skills next to 0%.

Let’s assume that the learner lives in Mie Prefecture. Approximately 1% of the population is non-Japanese, and the vast majority of the non-Japanese population uses languages other than English, or is at least not their primary language. So for argument’s sake, let’s say that 10% of the 1% primarily speaks English.

There is evidence that shows that the average person speaks something in the order of 15,000 words each day, and let’s suppose they talk to a random, representative cross-section of the population. If that is the case, then they would speak 150 words to a non-Japanese, and 15 to a speaker of English.

That is a best-case scenario. That would mean that the speaker has the will or necessity to speak English, and chooses to use it.

Are 15 words enough to learn languages? Probably not. Functionally it would be difficult to do anything with 15 words. One could barely order a meal at a restaurant with 15 words.

So what are we to take away from this information? What is the moral of this story?

1. Use our 20% to achieve goals that interest you. Use the language that fits your goals, so that if your goal is to learn English, then use English in communication with the 20%, regardless of their nationality.

2. Use our 80% to achieve goals that interest you, too. In self talk, speak to yourself in English. As yourself questions in English Answer in English.

3. Say nice things to yourself. Elite athletes probably don’t spend much of their 80% berating themselves for how bad they look, or don’t want to train today, or will probably lose anyway.


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