37 Tips on How to Improve Your English Speaking Skills
Strategies, Tips, and Tactics to Develop a Strong Base Foundation for Speaking Skills
Learning English is like building a house. You start by constructing a sturdy foundation before anything else. English language learners begin by knowing the building blocks of the target language to develop a strong English speaking skills foundation and communicate like native speakers.
There are various ways to develop your English vocabulary. But the general tips to improve are to learn new words every day and practice your pronunciation to say things correctly.
Here are the first 16 tips for developing a strong foundation on how to improve English communication skills:
Expand your vocabulary
The first block in building English communication skills is enriching your vocabulary. Understanding the meaning of words would help you create sentences when speaking.
1. Know the three types of vocabulary
The three types of vocabulary will help you identify the words you have to study. For example, when you already know 150 basic sight words, you can use that as a stepping stone to learning advanced words. The first type of vocabulary helps you build your skill to learn more complex and complicated words.
The three types of vocabulary words to help you know where to begin expanding your word bank are:
Basic sight words or common words
Basic sight words have no multiple meanings. They are familiar words because we use them in daily life. There are 315 common words in the Dolch Word List, including verbs (e.g., laugh, show), nouns (e.g., machine, audience), and adjectives (e.g., pretty, cheerful).
After understanding the meaning of common words, explore the high-frequency words used in school, literature, and real-life conversations. In contrast with basic sight words, context-specific words have multiple meanings.
For example, the word “fine” may mean outstanding (fine performance), powdery (fine sand), or penalty (speeding fine). The challenge for learners is understanding the context of the word to extract its meaning.
Joining a book club, participating in English forums, and talking with English speakers will benefit you when learning words with multiple meanings.
Content-specific words are the vocabulary of distinct fields such as Science, technology, business, medicine, law, politics, and sports. To learn low-frequency words, read books about the topic that interests you. For instance, if you want to learn more about Science, read about amazing Science facts.
2. Build your word bank
Make sure to list the new words you discover as you expand your vocabulary by learning new words. Listing down the words you learn improves your retention. Moreover, it helps you measure your progress by giving you an overview of the number of words you already know.
Your word bank serves as your personal dictionary — a collection of all the words you have learned and how you understood their meaning. Create a word bank that reflects your learning style.
3. Learn the context of words
Understanding the context of words will help you avoid miscommunication and confusion. Using words with multiple meanings in sentences would help you grasp their meaning.
Take for example the word watch. When you want it to mean the device that tells time, you can use it in a sentence such as I will buy a new watch at the mall. Meanwhile, when it means to observe someone, use it in a sentence such as I have to watch my little sister while she plays.
Learners with the background knowledge of words’ contexts have better speaking skills development.
4. Create Word Clusters
Word clusters are composed of a general word and related words under it. Tables are useful in making word clusters. You can also get creative and use graphic organizers. For example:
|General Word||Related Words|
|sports||racket, ball, Olympics, marathon, soccer, swimming|
|house||furniture, residence, village, living room, family|
Creating word clusters widens the web of your vocabulary and helps you build sentences when speaking.
Focus on listening
Listening and speaking are two essential elements of communication. Learning both aspects of language enhances your ability to communicate effectively. Remember that you can’t speak effectively without listening intentionally.
5. Listen to English media
To train your ears on how native speakers talk, practice listening to English media like podcasts, popular songs, news, and audiobooks. Familiarizing yourself with the way native speakers talk builds your confidence to communicate with them.
6. Observe how native English speakers talk
More than listening, observe the manner English speakers talk. Taking note of their pitch, diction, and pacing helps you try to copy their style and sound more like a native speaker.
You can ask the following questions when observing and listening to English speakers:
- Do native speakers maintain low, medium, and high pitch when they are speaking? Or do they alternate their pitch?
- Do native speakers pronounce words in a sentence as they do with individual words? Or do they shorten, link, or clip words when speaking?
- Do native speakers talk fast without a pause? Or do they speak with moderate speed?
Improve your pronunciation
It is normal to have your native language’s accent when learning to speak English. With daily practice, you will eventually adapt to how native speakers pronounce words.
7. Learn how to pronounce new vocabulary
Dictionaries have pronunciation guides making it easier to learn the pronunciation of words. However, you can maximize technology by using digital tools such as the Google pronunciation guide or a language learning app.
8. Use tongue twister exercises
Tongue twisters are a fun and effective way to improve your English speaking skills and learn correct pronunciation. Here are three tongue twisters you can practice with:
- She sells seashells by the seashore.
- Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. How many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?
- Betty Botter bought some butter but she said the butter’s bitter.
Study the flow of spoken English
Speaking in English has a natural flow that learners should familiarize themselves with. Native English speakers don’t vocalize words individually when speaking. Instead, they link and contract the sound of words in the sentences.
9. Catenation or Linking
The American accent use catenation or linking. Catenation is linking the consonant sound of a word to the vowel of the next word in a sentence.
- An apple falls on the ground. → A napple fall son the ground.
- This afternoon is great. → Thi safternoo nis great.
- I’m already on my way. → I malread yon my way.
10. Speech Contraction
Speech contraction is combining two separate words to shorten their pronunciation.
- I am → I’m
- It is → It’s
- I would → I’d
- Can not → can’t
- Would not → won’t
- You are → You’re
Learn phrases rather than single words
In the process of enriching your vocabulary, it is essential to have an understanding of English phrases instead of individual words. English phrases make you sound more fluent and natural in your speech.
11. Use different phrases and expressions
You can mix up your words with English expressions. For example, instead of saying “thank you,” you can say “that’s so kind of you,” “I appreciate it,” or “I owe you one.”
12. Speak in short sentences
Keeping your sentences short when speaking helps you deliver your message clearly. Short sentences roll off your tongue easier than complex sentences.
For example: This singer on the radio that my brother is listening to was singing a new song that was upbeat, I like it.
Can be shortened to: I like the upbeat song on my brother’s radio.
Learn idioms and slang
Idioms are a group of words or phrases that express ideas different from their literal meaning. On the other hand, slang is an informal expression used when speaking with close friends.
13. Use common English idioms
Integrating idioms in your speech will help you sound more fluent, especially when speaking in formal environments like an office.
Use common idioms like break a leg instead of good luck; let’s get the ball rolling rather than let’s start, and it’s up in the air instead of saying it’s undecided.
14. Learn slang
You can use slang in informal conversations with your native English friends and understand Western pop culture when watching English films to learn the language.
Here are three common slangs you can use:
- Hit me up → contact me
- Shady → suspicious
- No biggie → it’s not a problem
Build English-speaking confidence
As you practice speaking English, your confidence also increases and you feel comfortable speaking the language.
15. Build confidence by practicing with others
Your basic communication skills will improve faster when you practice your speech with your friends, colleagues, or native English speakers.
16. Don’t worry about making mistakes
The trick to building your confidence in speaking is not worrying too much about making mistakes. Remember that it’s normal to stumble when you are starting to learn any foreign language. Instead of feeling demotivated, use your mistakes to improve your language skills.
A strong foundation for speaking skills allows you to speak with clarity and articulation. Strengthening your vocabulary, listening skills, pronunciation, and confidence is your stepping stone to achieving holistic English speaking fluency.
21 Top Strategies, Tips, and Tactics to Improve English Speaking Fluency
Fluency is the ability to communicate your ideas with accuracy, rate, and expression. The goal when learning English is to be able to hold a conversation with people around the world.
It takes time and practice to develop your speaking fluency. But it is not impossible to master it with the proper guidance and techniques. Here are 22 strategies on how to improve English speaking skills and successfully communicate with native speakers globally:
1. Speak English Daily
Improving your speaking fluency starts with speaking English daily. Training your mind to structure ideas in English and your mouth to vocalize words easily will refine your fluency.
You can exercise using simple activities like introducing yourself, explaining simple processes, and asking for directions. However, to become an articulate speaker, you must go out of your comfort zone and talk with a language partner.
Speaking with a language partner improves your active listening skill, a crucial component of effective communication.
2. Read in English Out Loud Every Day
Reading aloud has three benefits: first, it helps with the coordination of your cognitive and motor skills —while your brain thinks, your mouth speaks. Second, it improves your pronunciation and accent. Lastly, reading aloud helps you learn new words and expands your comprehension.
Pick up a book to improve your English skills by reading aloud daily.
3. Use a dictionary
Learning new words requires constant reference to a dictionary. Use an online dictionary to expand your vocabulary and improve your pronunciation. However, don’t be reliant on your dictionary as it is good for learning single words only. When you want to adopt English accents or pronunciation, it is better to listen to the conversations of native speakers.
4. Reduce your speaking speed
Speak moderately to focus more on what you say and avoid blabbering. Slowing down your pace makes you vocalize words better and allows others to understand you clearly. Moreover, speaking at a moderate pace increases your engagement in a conversation.
5. Exercise your spoken English with a conversation partner
It is important to practice speaking in English with a conversation partner. You can participate in a community of learners and find a language exchange partner. A good partner will give you feedback on your English pronunciation, pace, and grammar.
Simulating a job interview, having phone conversations, and reciting famous speeches are great activities with a language exchange partner.
6. Use your voice recording app to check your pronunciation
You can improve your pronunciation through your phone’s voice memo. Record yourself when speaking and listen back to check if you mispronounced any words. Moreover, you can take note if you stammered, blabbered, or paused way too long.
Write down your observations and use that as a guide on re-recording how you speak for improvement.
7. Listen to English music and videos
Music helps you determine the rhythm of the English language. Meanwhile, visual media like series and movies illustrate how body language plays an important role in a conversation. Movies simulate real-life situations, which help you understand the context of English phrases and expressions.
8. Memorize and recite monologues or quotes
Compile your favorite lines from the English films and quotes from the books you read to create your practice speech booklet. Read those quotes daily to memorize them and recite them to develop your fluency.
9. Practice self-talk for fluency
To practice self-talk, select a simple topic you want to talk about and stand in front of a mirror. Before starting your speech, set your intention by saying, “I want to improve my English speaking skill.” Saying your goal out loud sets your mood when practicing.
10. Explain your ideas verbally
Vocalizing your ideas improves your grammar and accuracy. It also develops your critical thinking skills and contributes to building your confidence. You can listen to current events and trends, select a topic, and explain your opinion on the matter.
11. Create a personal progress vlog
Documenting your progress through a video diary helps you stay motivated. Record yourself on video while delivering a speech, practicing a job interview, or storytelling. In this way, you can observe your body language and facial expressions when speaking.
You don’t have to share your progress vlog, but if you decide to upload it on the internet, it can inspire other learners.
12. Imitate Native Speakers
Copying the speech patterns of native speakers is a great strategy to adapt to how they speak. To do this, find famous scenes from English movies, series, and Ted Talks. After that, listen to those clips, memorize their lines, and imitate how they speak.
Do this activity several times, and you will notice how you can mimic the accent from the clips you watched.
13. Enroll in an English Speech Class
Although you can learn English yourself, taking an English speech class or courses can help connect you to teachers, other learners, and structured resources. You won’t find it hard to find a language partner and can explore various speech activities like public speaking.
14. Consistency is excellence: exercise English speaking skills daily
Track the activities you do for your fluency in a calendar and create a daily log. Recording and keeping yourself in check would help you strategize your personal learning plan. Committing to staying consistent with your learning development is the key to success.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, meaning there was no such thing as instant progress. You have to work on your goals consistently.
15. Speech shadowing
Like how your shadow follows you, speech shadowing works by repeating or following an audio or video material. Select a material that interests you so this practice would feel light for you.
The process is to listen, pause, and repeat. Listen to the material, pause to process what you have heard, and repeat the statement word by word. Speech shadowing is a listening exercise banking on the principle that repetition builds mastery.
16. Think in English
Thinking in English helps you structure your thoughts without translating from your mother tongue. When you train your brain to think in English clearly, you will likely avoid stammering and speech fillers (e.g., uh, um, er).
Learning starts with cognition, that’s why thinking in English helps you develop your strong speaking fluency.
17. Storytelling for spoken English improvement
You can retell your own stories by answering simple questions like, “how was your day?” However, you can also make consuming English media productive by relaying information or the plot to your friends and colleagues.
Storytelling develops the creative side of your brain and improves your English comprehension.
18. Go to language cafes
Immersing yourself in public and showcasing your speaking skills by conversing with various people is one of the best ways to achieve fluency. Language cafes are a great training ground for learners and a safe space to practice their speaking skills.
19. Reflect on your conversations
Reflecting is not for overthinking your conversations but assessing your speaking skills and finding room for improvement.
Here are questions you can ask yourself when reflecting:
1. How did I speak and express my thoughts?
2. Did I use appropriate vocabulary?
3. Did I pronounce words correctly?
4. Was I able to listen to them?
5. How did I contribute to the flow of the conversation?
20. Prepare cheat sheets
Cheat sheets lessen your anxiety and make you feel prepared for a conversation. You can prepare a template of your questions and answers in advance. List important information to help you remember details of a topic you will talk about.
21. Using LillyPad English Learning App
When you feel overwhelmed by the above strategies, you can always simplify your learning experience on the LillyPad English Learning App.
LillyPad is your artificial intelligence tutor designed to help you learn English through reading, listening, and speaking. Achieve your learning goals through the personalized activities LillyPad will curate depending on your learning goals.
Access your reading, audio, and video library, check your own progress dashboard, and upload your study materials on LillyPad to consolidate your learning of speaking fluency.
There are various tips on how to improve your English speaking skills. However, all those strategies and techniques go back to building a strong foundation of fluency. Additionally, there’s no “one size fits all” in improving your fluency. This means that learning strategies should be personalized depending on your learning goals. Your success in speaking like a native speaker also depends on your consistency and commitment to learning.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can improve your English speaking skills quickly with consistency and effort. Maximize learning English in the comfort of your home by reading, listening, and watching English materials. Use your phone to record yourself while speaking in English, and talk in front of the mirror to practice your expression and body language.
There are various reasons why you might feel stagnant when learning English. First, you might have a negative mindset about learning and are too critical of yourself. Second, you may not be reading enough books to expand your vocabulary and practice reading aloud. Lastly, your motivation fluctuates, that’s why you might not have been consistent in studying.
You can practice speaking every day by talking to your friends, classmates, or colleagues. Use your phone to find an English learning community either in your locale or on the internet. Aside from this, record yourself when speaking using a voice memo, and download an English language learning app like LillyPad.
Speaking fluent English without hesitation starts with developing your confidence. Practice speaking in English daily, read every day, and know that it is okay to make mistakes. Use your mistakes to improve your fluency.
English is a complicated language that might be hard to learn at first glance. However, when you understand its components, learning becomes easy. Speaking English fluently can be difficult because of the following reasons:
1. English has a wide vocabulary including idioms, phrases, expressions, and slang.
2. Native English speakers have various accents that might be hard to understand by non-native speakers.
3. English grammar is complex.
There is no single best way to improve English speaking skills. However, with consistency and a combination of different speaking tips and strategies, you can improve your English speaking skills easily.
You can improve your English speaking skills by yourself through self-study. You can start by practicing expanding our vocabulary through reading and listening. Afterward, do speech shadowing, record yourself using a voice recording app, talk in front of a mirror, and practice self-talk.
Eventually, you can get out of your shell when you build your confidence in speaking English. Connect with English language learners and native speakers to practice your English.
Learn from History – Follow the Science – Listen to the Experts
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Valentina has always been a teacher at heart. After spending eight years teaching college-level English, she realised that her true passion was helping people learn and grow – especially when it came to learning English. She firmly believes that in order for language learning to be successful, it’s important to create a comfortable and welcoming environment where students feel safe to experiment and take risks. When she’s not writing for the Lillypad community, Valentina loves travelling, reading and going for long walks with her dog Freddy.