Whether it’s being able to talk to different people or for better job prospects, many people want to develop their English. We then come to a very common question asked by learners all over – how do I improve my speaking? Well, the simplest answer is you just have to speak.
It’s a skill and just like any other skill, the more you practice the better you become. The better you become, the more confident you get. Do you see where this is going? So to help you on this journey, we have got a few tips that will get you feeling better and less self-conscious about your speaking.
Words are good but phrases are better
We have often heard vocabulary is important in expressing oneself. Improving one’s vocabulary is indeed important but most of the time we try to learn lists of new words that are not within a context. However, research has shown that people tend to remember phrases more than individual words. This is most evident in our mother tongues. We grew up learning phrases rather than words and their use within a structure. So, focus more on learning more English phrases and practice them when you get the chance.
Take advantage of modern times
It’s important to reflect on your learning and see what you’ve gained and what you need to work on. The best way to do this is to record yourself speaking and listen to yourself speaking. In doing this, you can focus on your rate of speech, clarity, grammatical as well as lexical range and accuracy. You can use your phone or tablet to record yourself and make notes about your progress. Especially since we live in an age of streaming films, TV series and music, you could watch and listen and practice saying what you hear. The best part of this is you could always play it back and practice over and over again.
Shout it out!
Reading out loud is extremely helpful, particularly if you don’t have anyone around you to practice speaking English with. By reading out loud, you can hear yourself speak and build confidence in your ability to say words correctly. This mainly focuses on helping with your pronunciation and helps you get a feel for the words, sounds and language overall. You can also couple this with the tip above and record yourself and analyse what it is your doing right and wrong and work on it.
Don’t know what to say when you go out? That’s why you need a cheat sheet. Think about a conversation you would most likely have when going out somewhere and plan what you’re going to say. You can write down some key phrases on a small sheet of paper or on your phone and refer to it when you need to, it’s as simple as that. It would be ideal to practice using those phrases before leaving the house to avoid various awkward situations.
So be confident and speak. No one ever learnt how to speak without making errors.
For a more guided learning experience, you can check out our New Online Spoken English course for adults (18 years and above). Whatever your English level, this course has been expertly designed to improve your English communication skills and confidence for a wide range of situations.
-Ian Vaz and Ridhima Somaiya, Teachers British Council