How to improve your speaking

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You’re reading this because you want to improve your English speaking skills.

You could have been learning for weeks, months, or even years but you still don’t speak with confidence. Then you start asking yourself, “What am I doing wrong?”

Well, wonder no more, because you’re about to learn what you need to do to speak English fluently. And you can do this from anywhere in the world!

2 Reasons Why You Can’t Speak English Fluently

If English isn’t your native language, then here are two reasons why you find it difficult to speak in English:

1. It’s a difficult skill – If English is not your native language, then you are more likely to face challenges. Imagine doing these all at the same time: formulating the right sentences, having accurate vocabulary and grammar while speaking using correct pronunciation. Whew! That’s a lot.

2. Not practicing the right skills to improve speaking – Practice makes perfect. We have heard this phrase a million times, simply because it’s true… Think about how much time was dedicated to speaking. I bet it wasn’t much.

Now that we have figured out the two main reasons why you’re still having difficulties speaking English fluently let’s now move on to the good part: the SOLUTION!

7 Ways to Improve Your English Speaking Skills

1. Work on pronunciation (for accuracy)

Learn the sounds of English and learn how to make them correctly. You have to learn the proper way of speaking, use of intonation, use of stress, relaxed pronunciation etc.

This is going to make a huge difference to the way you speak. People will understand you better. Your English will be more accurate. And things will just flow for you.

Think about a situation when you last spoke English. Did you have to concentrate on how to make the sounds of English? If so, you need to work on this area. You want to reach the stage where the right sounds come out of your mouth without you thinking about how to make them.

You might be thinking, but how?

Do this:

check the correct pronunciation of words

record yourself saying sounds

get feedback

once you get it right, get long-term repetition

This is just like improving your golf swing. Or the way you play the piano. Or kicking a football.

You learn the skill, practice, get feedback, make changes, and then get lots of repetition.

2. Imitate Native Speakers (yes, copying is good!)

This is a very effective way to improve, not only your speaking but your listening, vocabulary, and grammar skills as well.

It works like this (LRRC):

• Listen – start by listening to a sentence in English

• Repeat – pause the audio and repeat a sentence or phrase

• Record – while repeating the words or sentences, record yourself

• Compare – this is the last part of this method. Listen to the original audio, then listen to your recording and compare the two. Here, you’ll be able to notice what you need to improve; what you’re able to say and understand accurately and the changes you need to make.

What you’re doing is imitating an English speaker AND correcting yourself so that you’re accurate.

Once you can repeat the originally audio accurately, it’s time to get lots of repetition.

3. Shadow English Speakers (be careful!)

This is all about working on your English fluency. It’s more challenging compared to the first two methods. In shadowing, you have to listen to audio and repeat what you hear without pausing it. No stops, no pauses! It is also vital to choose an audio piece that you can follow.

This is key: only do this with audio that you can easily repeat.

I’ve seen students do this incorrectly. They choose difficult audio to repeat and end up mumbling.

Take your time to find audio that is easy to repeat. Doing this will help you improve your fluency. A good test to see if you’re doing it properly is to record yourself and listen to it.

4. Find friends to practice with

Speaking with friends might be the best and most enjoyable way to learn. Talk to your peers in English, you’ll have fun while learning! 

Most people learn English to have conversations. So, start having them now!

5. Expand Your Vocabulary (but be specific!)

Learn more words and phrases that you are going to use when speaking English.

Make this specific to you: learn words or phrases you need to talk about a certain subject. For example, if you need English for business, learn business English phrasal verbs.

Remember, when learning words and phrases it is so important to learn by sentences, complete phrases or chunks of sentences. This is going to help with your grammar and so that you know exactly how to use these words.

6. Listen As Much As Possible (ABL)

Listening all the time and getting as much listening practice as possible will dramatically help your speaking. Of course, listening and speaking are two different skills. But in order for you to have a conversation, you need to understand the person you are talking to.

Remember, having a conversation isn’t just about speaking.

Additionally, when listening to people when having a conversation, you can steal phrases that they use. But you can only do this if you work on your listening skills.

Listening is also input. It will help you increase your vocabulary and it will also help your pronunciation. Listening to the sounds of English will help you better make the sounds of English.

The good news is that you can listen while doing other things.

7. Stay Consistent (Practice Every Day!)

The English speaking methods that we’ve described above only work if you use them.

Here’s what I recommend:

Do a little every day.

Commit to 5-10 minutes every day. If you can do more, great! Some days you might do 2-3 hours. But make sure that you do the minimum every single day.

This means that even if you’re tired or really busy you still have to commit. Everyone can find 10 minutes a day to commit to something specific. You can do as much as you can, but make sure to do this every day. Remember, consistency is key in learning a complex skill, like the ability to speak English at a high level and with confidence.


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