35 Tips on How to Improve Your English Speaking Skills
Learning a new language can be an immensely time-consuming and taxing experience. From understanding the syntax to learning the parts of speech, a lot goes into becoming fluent. However, you can get ahead of the learning curve with enough practice and intelligent tactics.
A crucial part of learning to be fluent in a new language is being able to hone your speaking skills. Ultimately, all English learners hope to carry a conversation with a native or a fluent speaker to a successful end.
You may be able to write a five-page essay for your university assignment but struggle to find the right words to place a coffee order.
But we’re dedicated to making sure you don’t get left behind. Improving your speaking skills might seem daunting, but everything is within reach when you’re committed to your cause. After all, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Here are certain practices and habits you can adopt to improve your English speaking skills.
Build a Strong Foundation
Regardless of a structure’s sturdiness, it’s bound to crumble if it has a faulty foundation. Similarly, to excel in speaking in English, you must ensure your basics are reliable.
With a strong foundation, your interactions will flow naturally and seldom feel forced or rehearsed.
1. Expand your vocabulary
As a beginner in English, your vocabulary knowledge will be limited. Therefore, vocabulary is the most obvious starting point. However, a little effort at this stage will take a long way.
Set a daily learning target to help you navigate your progress. In the beginning, you can start as small as two new words per day. And with time, if you feel confident enough, you can take on more responsibility.
2. Improve your pronunciation
Apart from learning the meaning of a word, it would help if you also studied its pronunciation. Failure to do so could be detrimental to your interactions.
Multiple resources are available at your disposal to hone your pronunciation. Once you encounter a new word, run it past an American English pronunciation tool. The closer your words sound to a native speaker’s, the more natural and authentic your speaking abilities will seem.
3. Learn the natural flow of English
Memorizing words and sticking to the study material will improve your vocabulary, but it guarantees no success in developing a natural flow. However, understanding the connection between different words and the rhythm of a sentence will help you speak fluidly.
Such as, instead of pronouncing “he will” as two separate words, a native speaker would say “he’ll,” which is pronounced as the word ‘heel.’
Eventually, with time, you should be able to recreate the natural flow without any active effort.
4. Build English-speaking confidence
You might have heard that confidence is the key to success. So if you shy away from an opportunity to speak, you’ll likely find yourself stuttering or unable to hold a decent conversation.
Your lack of confidence is reflected in your speech. Therefore, you must avail every opportunity to initiate a conversation. For example, you can talk to friends about current events or the latest fashion and pop culture trends.
Once you step out of your comfort zone, speaking becomes as natural as breathing.
Techniques to Improve English Speaking Skills
5. Learn phrases rather than single words
Take a look at the world outside your study material. You’ll find that there are multiple ways to communicate a single thing.
For instance, if you want to compliment your friend’s outfit, you can take the textbook route and say, “Your outfit looks great” or “You’re wearing a beautiful dress.” Alternatively, you can adopt a different approach by saying, “Your outfit is to die for.”
The difference between the two compliments might not seem drastic, but the subtle variation is what separates a native speaker from a non-native one. The latter interaction sounds more genuine and authentic.
6. Read aloud
Keeping your words hidden deep within the compartments of your brain is detrimental to your fluency. As a beginner, when you read text out loud, you build familiarity with the words. The sentences’ cadence feels more natural; since you hear yourself back, you can identify your mistakes.
With each sentence read aloud, your brain breaks the meaning into different components. As a result, you no longer limit your understanding to the literal sense. Instead, the connotation and undertones at play become more apparent.
7. Listen to English podcasts
Theoretical learning aids the understanding of grammar but falls short when speaking in real-time.
Therefore, you’ll have to take auditory lessons if you wish to engage in a conversation with a native speaker. And what better way to indulge in a conversation than listening to a podcast? How words move back and forth between the host and the guest will help you build a fluent and reliable relationship with your tongue.
A podcast is a great way to stay informed on current events. But more importantly, it teaches you how to phrase ideas and convey them as intended.
8. Play games with English instructions
Broaden your syllabus by bringing in unconventional ways of learning. For example, instead of running your fingers through the pages of ‘English speaking guide for Dummies,’ engage in English-instructed and narrative-based games.
Not only do these games introduce you to a world of storytelling, but it also provides an opportunity to engage in conversation with other gamers. As you read a character’s background or listen to the game instructions, you open yourself to an immersive gaming experience.
Before the game even ends, you’ll be able to recreate the same story for another person.
9. Listen to English audiobooks and Radio programs
When it comes to the written word, there’s hardly a worthy competitor. However, for a beginner, there’s no better friend than an audiobook. Listening to another person narrate the events of a book not only simplifies contextual understanding but also introduces you to the concept of undertones.
For instance, if a word is spoken with stress, that usually reflects urgency or importance. Similarly, the narrator pauses briefly where commas are inserted and speaks with excitement every time a sentence ends with an exclamation mark.
Before you enter the world to converse with another person, you must become fluent in talking to yourself. As bizarre as it may sound, successfully translating your thoughts into spoken words is vital to fluency.
So the next time you try out a new recipe, read out each step. If it helps, you can picture yourself as a finalist in the MasterChef kitchen.
11. Speech shadowing
Breaking down the different elements of speech helps you master them one at a time. Speech shadowing focuses on building fluency through repetition. You can select a piece of media that interests you, so it doesn’t feel too exhausting.
Give the audio an initial listen and repeat each sentence how the speaker talks when you play it the second time. This exercise aims not to gain an understanding of the words but to teach your brain to decode the sentence structure as you speak. Thus, gaining fluency over the repeated text.
12. Imitate Native Speakers
Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s also an essential tool to speak English like a native speaker. Learning a language from the source rather than repeating the text in a book helps you gain speech and body language fluency.
Once you set a target, you can work towards attaining it by copying the style and enthusiasm with which the speaker speaks.
13. Reflect on your conversations
There’s no teacher better than in the past. Learning from your mistakes ensures you become more confident and skilled. So replay any conversations you’ve had and try to identify the precise moment it all went south.
Unfamiliarity with the topic of discussion, inability to understand an accent, or simply lacking comprehension makes speech much harder. Once you’ve identified your problem area, you can work towards making the next interaction better.
14. Listen and read
Gaining command over a language is tedious, but if you’re focused, you can excel in no time. Therefore, if you wish to speed up your speaking journey, expose your mind to tons of reading and listening material.
You can listen to English podcasts or radio shows to imitate the speech mannerisms of the host. Or you can pick up a book and learn new words.
15. Think in English
Words may roll over your tongue as you speak, but the process starts way back in your head. Before you put an idea into the world, it brews inside your mind.
Therefore, attacking the source is crucial. To gain fluency in your speech, you must train your mind to think in the same language. This ensures the flow of words is more natural and your response is quick and witty.
16. Retell a story in English
Once you attain the command you’ve on your native tongue over a foreign language, fluency in the spoken word will no longer be an issue. The next time you tell a story in your native tongue, repeat the same events in English.
As you translate each word, your brain understands the connections between the two languages, making the switch from your native language to English folds easier.
17. Record yourself speaking and listen back
Even when you speak aloud, you’re likely to miss a few mistakes or overestimate your talents. But if you record yourself and listen to it later, your brain perceives the audio as another person. Therefore, it allows you to be more critical and unbiased.
Log onto your voice recording app just as you’re about to read a book or tell a story. Later, play the recording and assess your speech in excruciating detail. Pay attention to any pauses, stuttering, or mispronunciation.
18. Record yourself speaking on video at watch
Speaking is an elaborate process that comprises more than the spoken word. When you’re carrying on a conversation with a real person, your body language, hand movement, and confidence all play a part in your speaking abilities. Therefore, it’s more beneficial to record your speaking on video.
When you re-watch yourself, you can critically analyze any shortcomings. For example, pay close attention to whether you maintain confident eye contact with the camera and if your emotions match your storytelling.
19. Focus on listening
Solely working on your speaking skills will give you the confidence to entertain a one-sided conversation. But when you enhance your listening skills, you’ll be able to contribute to the discussion and respond within a suitable time.
Since the goal of gaining fluency in speech is to talk to English speakers in their language, listening and comprehension become a crucial part of the speaking process. Additionally, you’ll be able to retain the words for longer and with more explicit meaning.
20. Learn expressions and idioms
No language is straightforward. There are multiple ways to convey meaning but using poetic devices creates the difference between a native and a non-native speaker. A native speaker understands that there’s meaning beyond the apparent translation.
However, the proper understanding is hidden between words that have a different literal meaning than what is conveyed. Therefore, gaining command over a language requires understanding the non-literal importance.
21. Prepare cheat sheets for yourself
There’s no harm in being prepared for a conversation. On the contrary, it exudes confidence and a passion for learning.
Just as you’d prepare flashcards before an important exam, note the main talking points before a meeting.
For instance, if you’re nervous about visiting the doctor, write down the detail of your illness and what you wish to achieve from the appointment.
22. Dictate your ideas instead of writing them down
Instead of noting down details by hand, you can practice using a dictation tool or voice recognition software. Speaking into your digital device will feel like conversing with another individual.
Additionally, if you mispronounce a word or stutter, the same will be reflected on the screen. Therefore, your shortcomings will be all the more apparent.
23. Watch movies in English
Learning is not all text on a page and assignments. Sometimes you can achieve the same result by laying back and putting on the TV. Introduce yourself to English television to comprehend different accents and vocabulary.
Additionally, when you spend more than an hour watching television in English, your brain starts thinking in the same language. So by the end of a movie, not only will you be entertained but leaving with a world of knowledge.
24. Immerse yourself in English language news
Keeping up with current affairs is essential to initiate a conversation with a stranger. So when you listen to an English news broadcast, you expose yourself to the correct vocabulary and syntax.
After listening for mere minutes, you’ll be able to carry out an effortless conversation on the topic.
25. Start a vocabulary book of useful words
When you encounter an unfamiliar word, note it down in a diary, along with its meaning and pronunciation. You might think you can retain the terms, but as your word bank grows, it becomes increasingly difficult.
With the help of a diary or a record, you can revisit the words at any time.
26. Do interesting activities in English
If you limit your learning experience to the study material, you’ll struggle to hold a conversation beyond a classroom. Hence, engaging in English games and activities helps expand your understanding of the language.
You can play scrabble with friends or take part in improv classes, forcing you to respond promptly to a given situation.
27. Stay Consistent (Practice Every Day!)
Failure isn’t a sign of lower intellect. Rather it indicates a lack of commitment to learning about a topic. Nothing seems to make sense when you embark on a language learning journey. But as time passes, you gain fluency and confidence in the same things that seemed gibberish to you once.
However, the key to success is consistency. If you wish to finish the race, you mustn’t deviate from the track.
Frequently Practice to Improve Your English Speaking Skills
28. Online tutors
In addition to your efforts, the experience of a learned individual helps fast-track the speaking process. Tutors are qualified experts who can impart tactics and methods to help you overcome any fluency issues.
29. Practice by yourself
When it comes to learning from scratch, you tend to be your biggest competition. Therefore, don’t limit your learning experience to a classroom or a fixed time of the day. Instead, keep revisiting your learning material and make the difficult decision of working on yourself by yourself.
30. Talk with Yourself in the Mirror
Carrying out a conversation with another person can be daunting, but initiating a conversation with your mirror self is as easy as it comes. Look yourself in the mirror and pretend you’re talking to another person. Practice makes it easier to slide into an actual conversation.
From alien sightings to the events of the world war, you can choose to discuss anything with your mirror self.
31. Go to language cafes
Language cafes are projects which aid communication between a learner and a native speaker. If you’re intimidated by carrying on a conversation with someone in real-time, this is a great way to practice. The talk will be just as authentic without the added pressure of succeeding.
32. Take English Speaking Classes
You can make an effort to learn spoken English through different means. But when you enroll in a specialized class, you can explore a new world with a security blanket underneath.
The safety of the classroom assures you space to grow and ask questions to clear doubts. Additionally, you can relate to other non-native speakers in the class and not feel alone in this struggle.
33. Find an English-speaking conversation partner
Listening to a podcast helps you improve your learning skills, but when it comes to fluently speaking a language, you need a little more.
You can assess your progress and improve comprehension by engaging in frequent banter with a native speaker. Additionally, you can set them as a target and try to replicate their approach to speaking.
34. Participate in public speaking events
Once you’ve overcome the fear of speaking in public, your speech becomes more relaxed and fluid. By participating in public speaking events, you open yourself to new opportunities. In addition, you’re likely to not be interrupted even if you stutter or pause during your speech, which gives you the confidence to see a topic to its end.
35. Use Language Learning Apps
Often the most significant barrier in learning a language is the fear of criticism or ridicule. This is why an application format is ideal for anyone struggling with anxiety or not feeling confident enough to approach a classroom.
A language learning app helps you gain the same targets and goals as a physical English lesson from the comfort of your home.
Additionally, you can revisit an area multiple times before you’re confident enough to move on.
In conclusion, learning is an immersive experience. So naturally, you’ll struggle if you limit your learning approach to a single technique. However, even if you adopt half of the tactics listed above, you’ll gain command over the English language. And before you even realize it, you’ll be carrying on full-fledged conversations with native speakers like you’re one of them.
Frequently Asked Questions
One of the best ways to improve your English speaking skills is to practice with a native speaker. This will help you to get used to the rhythms and cadences of natural English conversation. If you don’t have any friends or family who speak English, there are a number of online resources that can connect you with a native speaker for conversation practice.
1. Choose a topic that interests you. When you’re passionate about something, it will show in your speaking. If you’re bored or uninterested in the topic, your audience will be able to tell.
2. Do your research. Knowing your subject inside and out will help you feel more confident and keep your audience engaged. aim to spend at least an hour researching for every minute you’ll be speaking.
3. Write a draft of what you want to say. This will help you organize your thoughts and make sure you don’t leave anything important out. Don’t worry about being perfect – just get your ideas down on paper (or screen).
4. Practice, practice, practice! The more you speak about your chosen topic, the more comfortable you’ll become with it. Try recording yourself so you can hear how you sound and identify areas for improvement.
5. Relax and have fun! If you’re nervous, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that you know what you’re talking about. Speaking should be enjoyable – if it isn’t, take a step back and reassess why not. Perhaps you need to change your approach or find a new topic altogether.
One of the main reasons why spoken English is not improving is because people are not practicing enough. Another reason is that people are not exposed to good quality English. They either watch too much TV or spend most of their time on social media, both of which use a lot of slang and incorrect grammar. Also, many people do not read books or newspapers anymore, which means they are not exposed to proper English usage.
One way to become a better English speaker is to practice frequently. This can be done by having conversations with friends, family, or co-workers. It is also beneficial to read out loud and listen to yourself carefully. Pay attention to your pronunciation and try to imitate the way native speakers speak. Another helpful tip is to record yourself speaking and then listen back to identify any areas that need improvement.
If your goal is to improve your English speaking fluency, there are a number of things you can do to help yourself. First, it’s important to get plenty of practice speaking in English. The more you speak, the more comfortable you’ll become with the language. You can find opportunities to practice by joining an English language meetup group or taking an online English conversation course. It’s also helpful to immerse yourself in the language as much as possible by reading English books and magazines, watching English-language TV shows and movies, and listening to English-language radio programs.
Consider signing up for an online English course. Many courses offer live conversation sessions with native speakers that can help you practice your speaking skills in a safe and supportive environment. With a little effort, you can find many ways to improve your English speaking skills online.
One way to become a more fluent English speaker is to practise with native speakers as often as possible.
Another effective strategy is to watch English-language movies and TV shows and to listen to podcasts and songs in English.
It is also helpful to read news articles and books in English. When reading, it is important to look up any words that you do not know and to try to guess the meaning of unfamiliar words from context.
Finally, it is also useful to practise writing in English, either by keeping a journal or by writing short essays on topics of interest.
By following these tips, you can quickly improve your English speaking skills.
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Bethany MacDonald has contributed articles LillyPad.ai since 2020. As their Blog Lead, she specialises in informative pieces on culture, education, and language learning