‘What can I do to be more fluent in English while increasing confidence in my ability to communicate effectively?” Many who want to speak to impress have asked this question. It is certainly possible to work towards improving the ability to communicate effortlessly. Learning a language is a process of exploration loaded with fun.
Use these top tips to make your language richer:
1. Find friends who want to speak in English: If you are surrounded by English speaking people day after day, will it improve your spoken English? The answer is yes! That’s what an environment of English does. The more your exposure to the language, the more you will be able to absorb. If you find friends who want to learn English too, you will learn from each other. Soon, you will be looking for new sentence structures and vocabulary to convey your ideas. Look around for friends like you and ways to communicate in English to raise the level of your language. Say, for example, if you and a friend decide to work together on how to ask for directions, both of you will learn new vocabulary on how to ask for directions in English. More importantly, both of you will practice the language together and listen to each other speaking. This will be helpful as communication is a two-way process. You have to listen to the language and speak it. It will always be useful to practice both the parts together.
2. Read aloud to yourself: In order to tell yourself that you can speak the language well, you have to hear yourself speak first! A very good way of doing this is by reading aloud English from books, magazines and newspapers to yourself. This might sound like something primary school children would do, but it works. You can pick up the day’s newspaper and read the news articles that catch your attention. Sports lovers can go straight to the sports pages and start reading an article on their favourite sport. It will definitely retain interest while keeping you updated on the latest happenings in the world of your favourite sport. Reading loudly to yourself for ten minutes every day will convince you that you can speak fluent English! This feeling will continue even when you try to speak with another person. When you read out the language, you will also be exposed to the new structures and vocabulary that you read. These will gently make way into your own language.
3. Listen to the language: Listening and comprehending is key to developing your communicative ability in the English. Subscribe to podcasts and audio books to practice the receptive skill of listening. Listening to audio books is an effective method of exposing yourself to correct pronunciation. It also helps you understand the stress and intonation in words and sentences. Audio books are available for most of the books available in the market. The best part about listening to an audio book or podcast is that you only need your cell phone for it. You can download the book on your cell phone and listen to it anytime you want. This can be especially useful when you are travelling to and from work. Since communication is a two-way process, one needs to listen and understand before one speaks. Many available podcasts are not only informative but also educative. You can choose from a wide variety available today on every topic under the Sun. The basis of your choice can be topics which interest you. Ask a cricket fan to speak on cricket, and he will be able to speak for hours on the topic! If you pick topics which interest you, you will stay interested.
4. Maintain a vocabulary book: How do you increase your vocabulary and retain new words learnt? You can do this by maintaining a record of any new words you come across by entering them into a vocabulary book. Note down the word, its meaning and its use in a sentence. Flip through this book often, and you will find yourself using those words while speaking. Look for new words that you can use to express yourself. Target using a few of those words every day and watch your vocabulary expand. There are many words we use every day whose meaning we are unsure of. It will help to look up some of these words in the dictionary and note down these words in the vocabulary book as well. This book will serve as your own, personal dictionary, which will come to your help whenever you like a word and are looking for a place to save it. A hand-written vocabulary book will always be much more useful to you as you will have slowly filled it in word-by-word with words that you had a need to use or understand.
5. Practice the skill of summarising: Stating the main ideas of a given passage or paragraph is known as summarising. What has been read is a great way of producing original and creative language. After reading a chapter of a book or listening to a podcast, note down the main ideas from the piece, which you can summarise in a pre-decided number of sentences. Challenge yourself by increasing or decreasing the number of sentences you can use for the summary. Then, speak out these sentences by elaborating upon the main ideas. When you try to talk about what you have read in your own words, you will be making your own sentences. This will also get you to look for new ways to express a certain idea, which will go a long way in helping build your ability to express yourself. Do this activity with an equally-interested learner and give each other feedback on it later. When you give feedback to each other, you will be able to observe and learn from the errors of the other person. This will work towards improving your own power of expression. You can do this by speaking aloud to yourself as well.
6. Explore language-learning apps: Language-learning apps are a great way to practice English when you are on the move. Download an app from a reliable source and use it while travelling. You will make good use of your time to learn language while building your skills. Many of these apps explain the use of certain words and phrases and then ask you to make sentences around them. They also give real-time situations where you would need to know the language in certain role-plays or activities. Use them to build your accuracy while working on your power of expression to convey ideas. These apps also have interactive video and audio clips which help to build interest. The colourful interface makes it eye-catching which makes the user come back for more.
7. Record your voice: Listening to yourself speak is a fabulous way of correcting your pronunciation and reviewing your language. Give yourself a topic and speak extempore for two minutes. Record yourself when you speak and play it back to yourself. You will be able to identify pronunciation errors and evaluate your language, which can go a long way in figuring out your areas of strength. You will also be able to understand the areas you need to work on more. You can start this by first reading out articles from newspapers or books and recording them. When you get comfortable with listening to your own voice, you can start speaking on a topic you choose. Pick a variety of topics for this activity- ranging from the exciting to the boring. Sometimes, it is fun to pick up a topic which does not interest you at all. When you record your speech on such a topic, you will observe changes in intonation and speed of speech based on your interest in the topic!
8. Read a book: What kind of stories do you prefer? Do you like adventure or suspense? Comedy or horror? There are books available on every genre. If you pick up a book that interests you, you will find that you are able to learn the language and engage yourself in an area of significance. Books can be very interesting if you like what you are reading. While reading, you will come across some new words which you can make a note of in your vocabulary book. The good part about learning new words while reading is that you can see the word being used in a sentence, which helps you understand the usage of that word. While reading, one tends to learn English without consciously trying. Take, for example, a suspense novel. When you are deeply involved in the plot of a story, the only thing that will interest you is what happens next. This is the most natural way to learn a language, so start reading a book and watch your vocabulary grow.
9. Watch television shows in English: Watching shows will not only make you listen to the correct pronunciation of words but also will make you aware of the ways each word in a sentence is pronounced in a natural setting. Language is the most useful when its usage is understood in the correct context. The advantage of watching a show is that you also get a video that you can watch, and this helps to retain interest. The only challenge in watching a show in English is, people often select watching the sub-titles of the part. If a person is reading the subtitles while watching a video, he is not practicing the skill of listening anymore. He is practicing the skill of reading. In a nutshell, it is important to keep the subtitles off while watching your favourite show in English as this will not help you in developing your skills of listening. Try to watch English shows which have more neutral accents so that you don’t have to struggle too much to understand the accent.
10. Keep a time to study English: Keeping a regular time every day for English studies will help you in ensuring that you are working every day towards your language goal. Consistency is a very important factor in making sure that you are working on a regular basis to improve your language. You can fix days on which you will work on different elements of the language, like adding more words to your vocabulary book or learning to use a new tense. When you make a schedule for such activities, you will make sure that all parts of English are developing at the same time. This will help you in developing all the skills of the language together. Doing this will also build your confidence in using the language as you will keep learning new concepts and vocabulary which you can then use in your language. When you use a new tense you have learnt, it will also make you want to learn of the other tenses and the times that you can use them. There are so many different concepts in a language that you will always be left with a curiosity to learn more, which will keep you motivated enough to keep looking for new ways to develop your English speaking skills.
Learning English is a journey which gets more interesting with each passing milestone. There are always different concepts to master, new vocabulary to learn, expressive sentence structures to be used and creative ways to express yourself. Today, there are so many innovative ways to learn the language. These new ways ensure that you are always using your imagination and developing innovative ways to learn. Make the path in this journey an experience you enjoy. When you look forward to finding different ways to express yourself, you will be filled with a sense of achievement. This sense will make you in moving forward and will also help you in looking for new heights which you can reach in your language goals. Explore different ways of acquiring English and the different methods to expose yourself to correct language!