English is the world’s most studied language — around 20% of the world speaks English. Knowing how to speak English can open new life possibilities: from traveling more easily to communicating with more people, and even getting better jobs. It also means that you can study higher education at some of the world’s top institutions, including the University of the People’s online programs, which are tuition-free! If you are looking for advice on how to improve english speaking skills, there are plenty of methods and techniques.
Two girls sitting on swings having a conversation
Photo by Bewakoof.com Official on Unsplash
How To Improve English Speaking Skills
Mastering any skill, including communication skills, comes down to practice. By practicing speaking, you can learn from mistakes and build both your vocabulary and understanding.
Here are some tried and proven methods to enhance your English speaking skills:
Find a Conversation Partner: If possible, it’s best to find a native English speaker with whom you can practice your English. If you don’t know anyone in your direct network, consider finding a tutor. Otherwise, you can always find someone online to digitally connect with and practice your conversation skills.
Make Sure To Listen As Well As Speak: One of the best ways to understand the formulation of sentences and build your vocabulary is to listen to people speak. Try listening to podcasts and recorded conversations. From YouTube to real-life conversations, there are so many places to access English speaking.
Record Your Conversation Practice: When it comes to speaking, you will likely make mistakes. But you have to be open to making mistakes so that you can learn from them. If you record yourself speaking with your conversation partner, you can play it back and learn even better. That way, you can track your progress and pick up on pronunciation.
Surround Yourself With The English Language: English is everywhere. No matter where you live, you can find menus, marketing materials, books, movies, road signs, and more with the English language. The more you immerse yourself and pay attention to these daily pieces of English, the stronger your foundation will be.
Practice With Music and Movies: Most people like to relax and unwind with some music or entertainment in the form of movies. You can choose to watch movies in English, or instead, watch them in your native language with English subtitles that you can read.
Read Aloud: If you like to read more than speak and make up your own conversation, try reading out loud. That way, you can hear yourself pronounce the words and remember them more because you are both seeing and reading them.
Talk To Yourself: If you’re still unsure whether you’re ready to put your speaking skills to the test, simply talk to yourself! The more you practice with yourself, the better your English skills will become.
Build a Strong Foundation
Foundationally, learning a language comes from understanding the tone, vocabulary, and grammar.
Build your vocabulary: When you’re a child, you learn words as people point to items and teach you what they are called. You can adopt this same approach when learning and building your English skills. It all begins with vocabulary. You can choose to learn a certain number of words each day.
Improve your pronunciation: There are digital tools that will speak words out loud so that you can pick up on pronunciation. From YouTube channels to online dictionaries, knowing the pronunciation is key in being understood when you speak.
Learn the natural flow of English: Every language has its own flow and rhythm. When speaking English, it helps to know contractions — for example, two words that come together to form one word, like “I am” becomes “I’m.” Also, you want to know what syllable to stress when speaking. That all comes from conversational practice and listening to natives speak.
Techniques to Improve English Speaking Skills
There are also a variety of techniques to help improve your English speaking skills. Try your hand (or should we say mouth) at these:
Speech shadowing: Basically, this is copying how a native speaks. Speech shadowing can be done most simply by watching videos or a movie with subtitles. First, read the sentence and speak it out loud. Then, play it back with the native speaker speaking it. Try to pause in between to copy the flow and pattern as closely as possible. If you want, you can record yourself doing this to compare it with the way the native speaker sounds.
Self-talk: Whether you choose to speak your thoughts out loud or record yourself singing, talking to yourself and hearing the words will help you improve. You can also read out loud.
Think in English: This probably won’t come naturally, but you can help train yourself to think in English by first translating the thoughts in your head. Otherwise, you can keep a journal or diary of thoughts and write them in English.
Retell a story in English: Start with something simple, like a fairytale or traditional story from your childhood. Then you can take this to the next step and challenge yourself to retell a story that someone else shares in English. This helps to check your comprehension and understanding.
Person speaking in front of a small groupPhoto by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Frequently Practice to Improve Your English Speaking Skills
From friends to strangers, you can always find someone who speaks English to practice with. Here are a few more ideas on how and where you can speak English:
Participate in public speaking events: Public speaking events, from forums and conferences to slam poetry events, offer a good place to listen to others speak. You can also potentially apply to be a speaker. If it’s something less formal, like sharing your creative writing or telling a story in front of a small group of friends, public speaking can really showcase your skills.
Go to language cafes: Language cafes exist around the world. This is a place for people to come together and practice the languages of their choice in small group settings.
Using apps: Technology is here to assist in learning languages. From apps like Duolingo to Busuu, which lets you speak to native speakers, you can improve your English speaking skills wherever you go.
Chat with Siri: Want to speak to someone at a random time of night or simply set reminders on your phone to benefit your productivity? Chat with Siri!
Strategies and English Trainings
Everyone has their own favorite methods and ways of improving their English communication. There is no one right or wrong choice, so you can pick as many or as few as you wish and mix it up:
Talk to Yourself: Share your thoughts or read out loud.
Use a Mirror: Watch yourself speak to build confidence.
Focus on Fluency, Not Grammar: It’s ok to take time to learn grammar. But it’s more important to be able to communicate your thoughts first.
English Tongue Twisters: Try English tongue twisters to master the sounds of each letter.
Listen and Repeat: Practice and keep practicing by listening and repeating what you hear.
Pay Attention to Stressed Sounds: The language has a rhythm and certain syllables are stressed in both words and sentences.
Sing Along to English Songs: Use music to memorize words.
Learn Phrases, Not Words: By learning longer phrases, you combine words in context and can memorize both their meaning and pronunciation.
Learn Your Most Common Sayings: First, start with things you need to say the most. Whether it’s words for work or eating at a restaurant, you can start with specific situations in your life.
Have a Debate: If there’s something you’re particularly interested in, talk about and debate it with English-speaking friends.
Don’t Stress: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and be kind to yourself in the process of learning. It takes time, so don’t stress!
If you want to invest more in learning, consider using the following resources:
Tying it Up: Talk the Talk
English is the most global language. Being able to speak English will widen your possibilities for higher education and career options. It will also help you access some of the best entertainment straight from the source — Hollywood!
When enhancing your speaking skills, be sure to practice a lot. Don’t give up! You can practice by yourself, with the help of friends, or use technology to make it work for you.