Do you understand most of spoken English?
Maybe you don’t have too much trouble comprehending written English.
But when it comes to speaking, words don’t come out naturally.
You’re not alone.
After some years of schooling and traditional English education, you’ve been taught the area of English skills required to excel at school… but not speaking.
Even if you already know a good chunk of English vocabulary, if you don’t use them actively then you’ll forget. You’ll also get stuck when trying to speak.
The solution to improving your English speaking skills is to speak.
While you might not have any English-speaking friends around you, it is possible to improve your English speaking skills.
Here are 7 ways you can try today to improve your English speaking skills.
The most important part? You have to speak out loud.
You have to train your mouth and tongue to produce the sound of English and hear them, so that you can continuously get better.
Improve your pronunciation
In order to be understood clearly, you have to be able to clearly enunciate common consonant and vowel sounds in the English language.
For example, many Japanese students have a hard time differentiating L and R. Did you mean to say, “I ate rice”? If you’re not careful with your R, it might sound, “I ate lice” — you definitely do not want to each any lice!
Many Spanish speakers confuse “B” and “V.” “I drove a van” might sound “I drobe a ban” if not careful.
One of the common errors non-native speakers make is confusing short and long vowels. Some learners may pronounce the vowel in the word “beach” too short, making it sound like a different word.
Make sure to read out lout, and practice your pronunciation. Type “How to pronounce 000” on Google. You could also use an online dictionary like Macmillan dictionary to check the pronunciation of a word.
Improve your intonation
English learners should also be aware of intonation when learning to pronounce words and phrases correctly. It’s important to know where to put the emphasis in a sentence, so that you can communicate your intent clearly.
Even if you don’t intend to, you may sound sarcastic if you don’t have the right intonation for some phrases.
Make sure to listen to how a native speaker puts an emphasis on a specific word or syllable. Try to imitate native speakers.
Learn by phrase
Rather than trying to memorize individual vocabulary, you should try to memorize a collocation, phrase, or group of words.
Many English learners have the problem of knowing individual word but not sure how to string them together when speaking. Sometimes they don’t understand what a native speaker is saying even if they know the meaning of the individual words.
That is because when words are grouped together, it can have a different meaning. It could also convey a subtle nuance.
For example, what’s another way of saying that the alarm starts ringing? It’s “the alarm goes off.” The combination of words “go” and “off” might confuse English learners. It might sound like the alarm is being turned off, but it’s actually the opposite. When the alarm “goes off” it means the alarm is starting to make a noise.
Make sure to learn in chunk, so that you can use them in your conversation.
You have to train your muscle and tongue to produce the sound of English, and you have to hear yourself speaking in English.
Take an English book and spend some time reading it out loud.
When you read aloud, you’ll realize that you can’t quite say certain sentences smoothly. You might get stuck on a particular word.
That is your opportunity to fix your weakness and learn to pronounce the words correctly, and familiarize yourself with various sentence structures by trying to read them aloud smoothly.
Record Your Voice
It’s good to objectively listen to yourself and see where you could improve in your English speaking.
Record your voice on a voice recorder and try to find out what you could do better. Also compare your voice to the native speaker.
You might be surprised to find out that you’re using too many filler words, such as ums and ahs. You’ll find the areas where you can dramatically change to improve your overall speaking skills.
You can also try retelling stories.
Read an interesting article or book. Then try to summarize the main points as if you’re talking to a friend.
Talk to yourself and record your voice to see how well you did.
Shadowing is a training method used by interpreters. You listen to someone speak and try to say at the same time as they do.
Take your favorite video clip with a subtitle on.
Then try to read aloud and say almost at the same time as the speaker in the video.
When you get better at it, you might be able to shadow without the subtitles.
Find an English-speaking partner
There are many ways to find an English-speaking partner.
You could try going to a language-exchange club or language cafe in your local area.
Or, you could find a native-speaking friend on an app like HelloTalk.
If you’d like to have a proper English teacher coach you with your speaking, you could use an app like Cambly where you can find not just native speakers, but also native speakers who are also English teachers.
So those are different ways in which you can practice your English speaking skills.
Which method will you try next?
Let me know in the comment section below.