How to improve your spoken English!
Here are our 13 top tips for improving your spoken English.
Part I: Preparation
As part of improving your spoken English, you need to get used to producing English sounds. Here’s what you can do.
1 Read aloud
Take a short text (preferably one with an audio file to go with it) and read parts of it out loud. Later, you can compare your version to the original.
Repeat key sentences and expressions over and over again until they become automatic. Very soon, you’ll have learnt lots of useful phrases you can use in real conversations.
Practise telling your favourite stories or anecdotes. Write them out first. Then, make notes and practise saying them to yourself or a friend. Later, you can use these stories or anecdotes in conversations.
Memorise typical phrases, expressions and sentences. A lot of the language we use when speaking consists of set expressions and chunks of language. For example, “That’s interesting! / I never knew that! / That must have been scary!”
5 Simultaneous speaking
Sing along to your favourite songs, or try to speak at the same time as the character in a video clip or an audio recording you’re familiar with. Simply press play and then start speaking along with the news presenter, actors, singers, etc.
Practise forming questions. Take a piece of text and make questions from sentences in the article or paragraph. For example, “She’s seen it. = Has she seen it?” Asking questions is a good way of participating in a conversation without having to say much.
Work on improving your listening skills so you can follow what people are saying. You can do this by listening to audio files from course books, watching films or TV series, listening to music or watching videos on YouTube. Spend at least 70% of your study time listening to English.
8 Key words
In a conversation, you won’t understand everything. In fact, you won’t even hear every word as people often speak unclearly and it’s noisy (especially if you’re in a bar or the street). So, you need to listen out for the key words – the most important words in a conversation: the verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, etc. And from these, you can guess what the person is saying. For example, if you heard these key words “saw /film / friend / last night”, you could probably guess that the speaker was saying, “I saw a film with a friend last night.”
If you want to check your understanding, do some paraphrasing. Simply summarise in a few words what you think the speaker said. For example, “So, you went out to the pub, did you? / Oh, right, so it was your brother who told her, was it?”
10 Avoid translating
Don’t translate while you’re speaking as it’s a waste of time. Just use the language you already know. Remember, the important thing is to be understood.
Show the other speaker that you’re interested in what they’re saying. You can do this with your body language (by maintaining eye contact, smiling, having an interested look on your face, leaning in, etc.), or by using short phrases to show that you’re following things:“Oh, yeah? / Really? / Wow! / Amazing! / I can’t believe you did that! / Oh, no! / I didn’t know that / Incredible!”
12 Keep it simple!
Speak slowly and clearly, and use simple English sentences with the language you know. Don’t worry about your accent. And ignore any “mistakes”. In fact, if you listen to any native speakers in casual conversations, you’ll notice that they don’t speak in perfectly-formed, grammatically-correct sentences (just listen to the recordings in the Group Talk section of the magazine and you’ll see what we mean). And native speakers often make “mistakes” themselves in fast-paced conversations.
Practise speaking as often as you can. Speak to English friends or a teacher on Skype, join an English club or conversation group, find a pen friend, visit an Irish or English pub or food shop and talk to people there, go shopping in tourist areas and pretend you’re a foreigner (so you can speak English), speak to a classmate in English (even if you both speak the same language)… the possibilities are limitless.
Have fun speaking in English!
Copyright © 2014 by Hot English Publishing
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Copyright © 2014 by Hot English Publishing
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