Learning a second language, or a third, or fourth requires both focus and hard work. It takes work to understand the vocabulary, sentence structures, and general speaking skills necessary to communicate in a different language and the focus and dedication required for learning in general.
This article will discuss how to improve speaking skills through practical methods, in addition to improving your public speaking skills. The list is not exhaustive and is meant only to be a starting point to inspire you to learn in different ways.
There is no right or wrong way to learn English – do whatever works for you. It is suggested that you use various study methods to keep things interesting and keep your brain engaged.
If English isn’t your native language, it can be a struggle to learn and speak it because it has rules that are not logical. An example is the old adage to help you spell – ‘i before e except after c.’ But of course, this doesn’t apply to words like foreign, neighbor, weird, or innumerable others.
Spelling can be difficult with various letters that sound similar to one another.
All languages are tricky for their own reasons, but English is especially so. However, do not be discouraged! English is one of the most practiced languages globally, and learning spoken English is endlessly beneficial.
How to improve speaking skills:
Below we have listed some proven strategies to help you improve your speaking skills.
1. Practice, Practice, Practice
When learning a new language, practice is vital. This rule applies to all languages, especially English. The only way to communicate well is to frequently practice.
Techniques and resources for practicing a new language include workbooks, videos, friends, games, music, and apps. Language is a skill that must continuously be practiced in a variety of manners. The best results will be seen if you practice using a variety of methods.
The most traditional way to practice a language is to use your writing skills within workbooks. While this seems like an odd way to improve your English speaking skills since the only feedback you receive are the answers in the back of the book, it’s not.
Workbooks focus primarily on grammar and vocabulary, the very groundwork for all conversations. There are usually some pronunciation sections, but without hearing the word’s sound, it’s easy to make mistakes.
So why use a workbook? Because in order to speak English effectively, you must know how to structure sentences. You can have the best vocabulary in the world, but if you don’t know how to put those words together to form sentences, you’re just speaking gibberish.
Workbooks are also a great place to improve your vocabulary. The more words you know, the more you can say – vocabulary is essential for communication in all forms. You have to be able to name or at least describe what you’re talking about.
3. Watching Videos Go A Long Way
To improve your English speaking skills you have to know how the words sound in English. The internet is a vast sea of online information, and you can search for videos on every topic imaginable.
Watch movies about something you’re interested in English. This way, it a) holds your attention and b) teaches how the sounds fit together and sentences formed.
While watching the videos, you will hear how everyday conversations flow and can confidently mimic the speech and pronunciation.
You can subscribe to your favorite channels online and watch as new videos come out—more than likely, you will learn new words or phrases about a topic you already enjoy.
It is always beneficial to have one topic that you can speak of with confidence, and it makes it even easier if this topic is something you enjoy.
So find as many videos as you can on your favorite topics and devour them. They could be sports, literature, art, hobbies, whatever, as long as you enjoy it.
4. A Native English Speaker is Your New Best Friend
Overall the best way to practice speaking English is to practice with native speakers. This improves your communication skills because you need to ensure that you are using correct pronunciation.
Native speakers may not realize they are the best teachers, but they are. They know far more tips about speaking English and English skills than they think they do.
If you want to improve your English speaking skills, choose a topic and speak about the said topic in English with a native speaker. You may also teach the other person your own language and in doing so, you’ve earned a language exchange partner.
When you first learn English, this may seem impossible – in the beginning stages, you may be stuck talking about simple things like the weather and your favorite color. But with every word they speak, listen; you have a living example of the pronunciation of English words.
Native speakers are much better than any dictionary when it comes to pronunciation, especially commonly mispronounced words.
It may even be beneficial for you to record your conversations with a native speaker so you can go back to them later and listen to them, focusing on how the words are pronounced and the conversation flows.
If you know a native speaker, ask them to help you out as a language exchange partner. Explain that you want to practice speaking English and need a partner to talk with. More than likely, they will be willing to talk with you or listen while you talk and give you feedback.
You also need to remember in learning a foreign language is that different countries and regions have different slang for things that may be considered offensive when said elsewhere. So be careful.
5. Games to Win
To better your speaking skills, you must practice your English language skills repeatedly and continuously. This can become quite boring, and when you’re bored, you lose interest.
To keep things interesting, find games you can play while practicing your skills. Look for games where language is used or ones where you have to speak in order to play. The best games are those where sounds or phrases are both spelled and spoken (think of Hang Man, where you have to spell and say the word).
Now, who do you play with to improve your English? Well, with whoever you can find.
If you are all learning English, then you will learn the sounds and phrases together. If you have a native speaker in your group, everyone benefits and will improve as they play.
If you can’t set up a group game in person, try finding one online. There are thousands of online websites to play games on. Look for one that is free.
6. Music to Shake Your Head To
Who doesn’t love singing and listening to music?
Try watching a music video, or find a music artist you enjoy in English.
Life imitates art and vice versa – let it inspire you to learn more.
Fluency is often played with when it comes to music, and listening to different types can help you get used to moving your tongue quickly to form words and sounds. Practice is the key to fluency and learning and music is a great way to practice both.
When listening to music, it’s critical to pay attention to how the voice ebbs and flows as the words are sung.
Listening is a great tool, but singing along with confidence is also beneficial. You’ll practice speaking at different speeds and improve your fluency.
Aside from listening to music, you can also listen to English podcasts, write down the new vocabulary you’ve learned, and try using them in creative writing or in speaking to your conversation partner.
7. Free Apps are the Best Apps
There are free language learning apps to help you; whether the app features grammar study and techniques or a feature where you’re connected to helpful people intent on helping you, the app is out there. You just have to find it.
Important Reminders: English Speaking Skills
Below are some important reminders when it comes to English speaking skills.
1. Fear’s Got Nothing On You
Fear: there’s no reason to feel it, even if you aren’t a native English speaker.
Everyone learns language differently, and you don’t have to be a perfect speaker to get your point across. Fear is just holding you back from learning how to speak publicly for business, or maybe even privately.
It’s okay to make mistakes – everyone does. What’s important is that you learn from your mistakes and improve your speaking skills. Otherwise, the mistakes will eat away at you.
2. Your Way Is Not The Only Way
Remember, there lots of methods on how to learn a language, but they do not work for everyone.
For some people, a formal course is best, but friends and native speakers work for others.
Regardless of which method you choose, focus on grammar and how your tongue moves when you speak.
You know what fits best into your life, and you know the methods that work best for you.
3. Speaking and Listening Skills
Part of a conversation that can easily be forgotten when you are learning a language is that listening is a key part of said conversation.
To improve your conversation skills and communication skills, you must listen to what the other party is saying and talk in response. It’s one thing to have all these sentences in your head, and it’s another thing to use what you know effectively in a conversation.
So as you improve in your language skills, don’t forget to learn how to respond to other people, even if it’s a simple ‘I’m sorry I don’t understand.’
4. Public Speaking: English Edition
Public speaking events can be terrifying, whether you speak English or another language. English speakers do not have it easier just because they speak the language. Whether it’s a personal conversation or a business meeting, it’s best if you prepare your English speaking skills.
Here are some tips: Practice your pronunciation beforehand if you know you have trouble with certain words. Record yourself speaking and listen back to it, focusing on the words and sentence structure.
If you’re going to be speaking publicly on anything business-related, make sure you can say the names of the important players and the important business topics, regardless of what languages they may be in.
The Only Person Stopping You is You
If you are learning a new language, especially if you are learning English, you deserve a pat on the back for all of your work. Unlike children who soak up languages like sponges, it is much more challenging as an adult to learn another language.
So congratulate yourself on stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. Learning a new language may seem minor to you, but it opens up a whole new part of the world.
It’s going to take work – a lot of work – and there are going to be days where you are just too tired. But that should not stop you. Think of the joy you can bring to someone’s day simply by being able to communicate with them.
Language opens up the world and mind, and it is never a bad time to start learning one. So take the leap, whether it is downloading an app, signing up for a course, or getting to know your neighbor. Language unites us all.