Spoken English will help you develop your English speaking skills through conversation activities, public speaking, extempore, interview skills and group discussions.
Practicing speech is one of the most fun and enriching parts of learning English. Once you can even speak a little English, there are many ways to improve your skills quickly while enjoying a lot.
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When you ask the student what his goals are, almost everyone says “improve my language”. When you learn a foreign language, you will encounter all kinds of native speakers – your teacher, restaurant waiters, taxi drivers and their owner, so it is essential that you feel comfortable. In order to improve your writing, listening or any other skill, there are techniques that you can use to improve your spoken English in a specific way. Here are nine of our favourites:
Steps To Improve Your Spoken English
SPEAK, SPEAK, SPEAK
Let’s start right off by saying that there isn’t a magic pill for better speaking. That would be too easy, right? Basically, the best way to speak better is to, well – speak! Commit to practising often and with as many different people as possible. Do you already live or study overseas? Take advantage of the thousands of native speakers in your immediate community, such as your friends, their families, your co-workers, classmates, employees at the office, supermarket, hospital, post-office and other places you visit. If you’re learning in your own country, increase your practice time by meeting your classmates after class, finding a language exchange partner or joining an online community of learners.
Nobody will hold it against you if you speak more slowly and clearly. Great speakers do the same to get their message across. Selecting your words carefully may also be seen as a sign of respect towards your audience. It shows that you want to give them the best possible answer, be you a market woman selling pepper or whatever you are into, speak more slowly and clearly.
REFLECT ON YOUR CONVERSATIONS
After your conversation is over, take a moment to reflect. How did it go? Did you encounter any unknown words? The mere act of thinking about it in this way will increase your confidence for the next time you speak (and give your targeted things to work on, for example, the vocabulary you didn’t understand). Remember to ask yourself
- How did it go?
- How much do you think you understood?
- How comfortable did you feel with that subject matter?
- Did you encounter any unknown words?
LISTEN AND READ
You need words in order to talk, right? Class time is great for learning vocabulary, but there are other ways you can increase yours: Watch movies, listen to music, the radio and to podcasts. Read books, magazines and blogs. When listening and reading, find new and interesting expressions, slang terms and synonyms, write down this new material and look up anything you’re not familiar with. All this will provide more “meat” for you to use next time you practice.
PREPARE CHEAT SHEETS
Part of nervousness around speaking is the feeling of not knowing what to say. To combat this, prepare a cheat sheet. Are you going to the doctor’s? Before your appointment, research vocabulary relating to your condition and some common phrases you’ll probably need. Use the technique before going to pay a bill, eating at a restaurant, job interviews, making a complaint, or for any other situation that might make you anxious.
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PICK UP THE PHONE
Most people find phone conversations particularly challenging. Why? Because on the phone, we can’t see the other person’s body language or watch their mouth move, both of which are tools that really help communication. To feel more confident on the phone, start small with phone conversations with friends – then move on to more challenging calls like making appointments or inquiries. (This is a great time to use tip 4, and prepare a list of questions and useful vocabulary to help you during your call!)
RECORD YOUR VOICE
We know, we know – most people dislike hearing their voice recorded – but it’s actually an extremely beneficial way to improve your speaking! Hearing yourself on tape shows you things you might not realize (maybe you tend to speak quickly when nervous, swallow your “S’s” or mumble). On the other hand, you could be pleasantly surprised to hear that your speaking is far better than you thought! For bonus points, take your recording to your teacher or to a native speaker friend and have them give you feedback.
USE A DICTIONARY
Online dictionaries often have audio examples so you can check your pronunciation and there are lots of great dictionary apps that you can take everywhere with you on your smartphone. Make sure not to become too reliant on these tools, though. Have a go at saying the words first then check afterwards to see if you were right!
LEARN PHRASES RATHER THAN SINGLE WORDS
Another tip to increase your fluency is to speak using a variety of phrases rather than individual words. (You probably do this all the time in your native language.) Instead of automatically asking “Hello, how are you today?”, mix it up by choosing other expressions like
- What’s up, man?
- Hey, dude!
- How ya going, mate?
- It’s been a long time since
- Sorry to bother/trouble you, but…
- Would you mind if…?
- Oh, come on!
- I’m just kidding!
- For what it’s worth,…
- To be right/wrong about
- Tit for tat/an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth
(Be careful though: Some expressions will be very informal and not ideal for some situations!)
Let’s face it. It’s far easier to learn something new when you’re having fun. Inject silliness into your speaking practice by talking to yourself when you’re alone, singing along with popular songs in English, doing tongue twisters (Try our top tongue twisters) or doing one-minute “impromptu speeches” on randomly-chosen topics (such as snakes, coffee, India or subjects such as “If I ruled the world, I would…”, “Three surprising facts about me,” or “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”). Great practice and great, silly fun.
So, with all these practical tips to choose from, which one are you going to try first? Also, do you have more tips to improve Spoken English? Let us know via comment box.