Practice is the best of all instructors –Publilius Syrus, Latin writer and freed slave 1st century BC
Most of us know that if you want to be good at something you need to practice.
Well, awhile back I wrote an article about learning to master spoken English which really involves practice. We at TalktoCanada.com continue to help students develop their English skills. These 8 tips that I share with my students and teachers will get you started on your way to acquiring the confidence and natural flow needed to speak effortlessly without having to remember all of those English rules. It’s all about the way to practice.
P Prepare a list. Do you have some favorite words and phrases you often use in your native language? Take some time and think about this question throughout your day. It might help to write these words and phrases down in a notebook, and translate them into English. You can start small. Begin to use 1-2 “new vocabulary” words/phrases throughout the day, every day, until they are committed to memory and you are able to use the vocabulary words naturally. Continue to use more of the “new vocabulary” as your ESL skills increase by reviewing your notebook each day. At the same time, add more words, phrases, and eventually sentences to your list when you think of them or when you are ready to expand your English vocabulary. You will be amazed at how your list is growing and how much English you actually know! By revisiting your list on a regular basis, you will also help build confidence as you can see how many new words/phrases/sentences you have mastered (by ronke). This success will encourage you to keep learning and the positive cycle of English language learning will repeat over and over. All of this will happen… because you took the time and effort to “prepare a list”.
R Record yourself and Read aloud each day. Do you know what your voice sounds like in English? Record yourself on your computer or another taping device, play back the recording and pay close attention to what you hear. Listen closely to your pronunciation and tone of speech. Are there areas you could improve? Write these down and continue to work on them. The importance of reading aloud from a magazine, newspaper or book in English each day helps develop your mouth muscles for speaking a new language. It also helps with acquiring more English skills. Read for about 15-20 minutes a day and you will see how your fluency improves.
A Avoid using idioms and slang. Although idioms and slang expressions are common in the English language, they are not important to use until you have a firm grasp with the English language. Your first priority is to concentrate on listening and learning to speak English. Then you will understand more of these informal words and phrases that are so prevalent in the English language. Listening will bring understanding of what these words actually mean and in what situations they are best used. Eventually, you can practice where and when to say these idioms and slang expressions. So don’t use them until you are ready. Then you can begin to incorporate some of these new words and sayings into your everyday speech. Just turn your back on them, hang in there, and deal with idioms and slang at a later date.
C Check your accent. Everyone has an accent of some sort. It is the manner of how you pronounce words and sentences with the loudness of pitch, length you hold a certain sound or a combination of these two things. You will probably bring some of your native accent into the English words. To avoid this as much as possible and to have close-sounding English words, observe how people speaking English move their mouths to say the sounds and words. Try to imitate this. Often it is helpful to speak simultaneously with a speaker on a tape. This could be anything you have taped from the television or radio, or a story read by a native speaker. Repeat sections of the tape over and over again until you have reached success. Then you can add longer sections. Remember that all accents change over time. They are not fixed especially when we move to a new place, mix with different people or develop new aspirations. Another suggestion is to record your voice from time to time so you can listen for that accent and work on those precise sounds and words. Attack one area at a time and you will soon be speaking like a pro.
T Talk slowly. You probably talk much faster in your native tongue than you do in English. Right? It is very natural to speak in your native tongue so you don’t pay much attention to word choice, grammar, etc. When speaking in English, feel free to slow down. There is no need to hurry. It will be easier for you to speak if you don’t feel rushed. The most important part of speaking is communicating and having the listener know what you are saying. So just talk slowly. Speed will come in time when you have acquired more English skills. And when others understand what you have to say, this alone will help increase your confidence in speaking even more English. And the more you are comfortable speaking, the faster you inevitably will speak.
I Interact after listening to others and listen to audio books. If you think of how anyone learns a language, you will credit the value in listening. Listening is the way everyone learns to speak a language. So listen all the time. Find ways to listen to others speaking. Listen when you do errands at the store, post office, library and bank. Listen on the way to school or work. Listen to the radio or to audio books. You can download audio books from many sites on the internet or from the bookstore and play these on your iPod. There are literally hundreds of thousands to choose from. Combine these books with listening to music, videos and television shows. Surrounding yourself with spoken English will undoubtedly help your own spoken English. It will help you think in English and to speak more easily.
C Collect a word a day. Did you ever stop to think how many words you know in the English vocabulary? The more words you know, the easier it is for you to select words to use. Each day, look up one English word (begin with the letter A in the dictionary), write the word down on a notecard, and carry it with you for the day. Try to use this word as much as possible so you commit it to memory. The next day, pick a new word starting with the letter B, and so on. In the course of a month, you will have worked yourself through the alphabet and you can start over. Did you ever think that you could learn 365 words a year so easily? With slightly over a million words to choose from and with estimates of 8500 new English words added each year, you’ll have great variety to pick from.
E Empower yourself and reduce your fears. Remember to think confidently. Everyone makes mistakes when you learn something new. So put that thought aside. Who cares if you make mistakes? Some of you might worry about sounding stupid, saying something when you mean something else, and even wondering if people will be able to understand what is said. But remember, it is far better to try than not to try at all. This statement is nothing new but it conveys a lot of wisdom. One of Albert Einstein’s favorite quotes describes the value of mistakes in that …a person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. So keep trying, and each step of the way you will feel more empowered to try harder and your fears of speaking and learning a new language will eventually disappear completely!P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E There you have it…8 tips on how to practice and to be well on your way to master spoken English. As Napolean Hill, a 20th century American author is cited in one of his hallmark expressions: You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your life. You can make your life what you want it to be. Start by conceiving and believing, and then you will achieve! Do write and let me know about any of these 8 tips and how they have worked for you and what you have achieved. Do you have any tips of your own to share? And remember, like anything else, practice leads to mastery.