Muhammad Rafiq is a freelance writer, blogger, and translator with a master's degree in English literature from the University of Malakand.
Do you wish to improve your English speaking skills? Well, you’re not alone. One of the most common complaints my foreign friends have is that they can’t speak English well. Maybe they speak a non-standard form of English, or they just don’t have a good grasp of vocabulary and sentence structure. Either way, you should be able to communicate in English effectively so I have compiled a list of 10 tips to help you do just that:
- Listen More, Talk Less
- Talk With Confidence
- Work On Pronunciation
- Use English Phrases
- Improve Your Vocabulary
- Read Aloud as Often as Possible
- Read Novels in English
- Watch English TV channels
- Don’t Worry About Mistakes
- Think in English
1. Listen More, Talk Less
One of the main keys to improving your English speaking skills is to listen more and talk less. When you listen, you learn the natural way that native speakers speak. This will help you improve your pronunciation and learn new vocabulary!
When you start learning English, new vocabulary words can seem overwhelming. As well as learning new words, it’s important to learn how they are used in real-life situations. When you listen to English, you don’t just learn new words – you also learn when and how to use them correctly.
It’s a good idea to try different types of listening material so that you don’t get bored! Listen to songs, audiobooks or podcasts. You can also watch movies or TV shows in English with subtitles for a more challenging experience!
Listening can help you to learn the correct grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary. It can help you to improve your own spoken English skills by giving you a model to copy. This is why listening is so important, but unfortunately, many students don't listen enough.
Here are some tips that will help you improve your English listening skills:
- Focus on what is being said. You should try to focus on what is being said as much as possible. Don't get distracted by other things going on around you. This can be difficult in some situations, but it really helps you understand better if you focus on the speaker(s)
- Listen for main ideas. Listening for main ideas is a good strategy for improving your listening skills. As you listen to someone speak, try to identify the main idea of what that person is saying. The main idea is usually the topic of the conversation or lecture.
- Listen for important details and examples. Once you have listened for the main idea, listen for important details and examples of what the speaker is talking about. These details and examples will often support, or give more information about, the main idea
- Take notes while listening. Taking notes while listening is a great way to improve your listening skills because it helps you concentrate and remember what was said.
- Don't worry if you don't understand every word that is said! If you don't understand every single word, do not worry! You do not need to know every single word in order to understand what is being said. The more you practice, the better you will get at understanding the meaning of sentences and conversations even if you do not know every individual word.
- Try to guess the meaning of unknown words from the context (the other words, sentences and ideas around them). One of the keys to understanding spoken English well is developing your ability to guess the meanings of unknown words from context. If you listen for a few seconds, often you can guess what an unfamiliar word means from what other people are saying or from the situation that you are in. Sometimes this does not work and sometimes it does - but it's definitely worth a try!
2. Talk With Confidence
To improve your English speaking skills, you really have to be willing to talk with confidence. By "talk with confidence," I mean that you should learn how to present yourself confidently and how to express your ideas confidently in a way that will be understood by others.
Be sure that when you're learning how to speak English, you are going to learn how to speak clearly and express yourself so that anyone who hears you is going to understand what you are saying.
When you're trying to improve your English speaking skills, it's also important that you understand the importance of body language and nonverbal communication. In other words, it's not just about what comes out of your mouth or what you write when expressing an idea; it's also about what goes on in the background or behind the scenes and the image that is projected by a person who is trying to communicate something in English.
So remember if you're trying to improve your English speaking skills, make sure that when you're talking with someone else, whether it's one-on-one or in a group situation, make sure that your tone of voice is right and that you come across as someone who knows what he or she is talking about. Make sure that when you're interacting with someone else, they see a person who is confident and someone who has the ability to speak clearly in English.
3. Work On Pronunciation
The most important part of learning to speak English is pronunciation. If you want to improve your spoken English, you should make sure you can pronounce every sound correctly and that every word is pronounced clearly.
English has many sounds that do not exist in other languages.
Most people learn to speak their native language just by listening to others, but this does not work for English. In order to speak English well, you need to know what the sounds are and how they are made. Most people find this difficult because they have never learned how to use their mouth muscles correctly.
To improve your pronunciation, it may be a good idea to work with a teacher. Your teacher will help you understand the sounds of English and give you practice using them in real conversations.
Try these tips for improving your pronunciation:
Record your voice. You can record your voice and listen to it so you can hear any mistakes that you need to correct
Practice with a friend. A friend or language partner is someone who can help correct your pronunciation by repeating words and sounds back to you.
Look up new words in a dictionary. Some dictionaries have audio clips so you can hear the word pronounced correctly.
Practice tongue twisters. Try repeating tongue twisters several times quickly. This will help loosen up your mouth and get those muscles working together!
4. Use Phrases
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard students speak English, and as soon as they are asked a question or want to say something, they start translating it in their heads.
If you really want to improve your English speaking skill, try to use phrases in your conversation. The more you use phrases the less you will have to translate from your native language.
Phrases are especially powerful because they are a combination of words that when used together, create a specific meaning. For example, the phrase “kick the bucket” means to die. If you were watching a television program in English and someone kicked a bucket, it would not make sense for me to say “oh I see he is trying to die!” Of course if I heard the phrase “kick the bucket” I would immediately know that it meant “to die.”
You can create your own phrases by putting two or more words together that have their own specific meaning. You can also use phrases as models for creating new ones by changing one word or word order. A simple example of this would be the phrase “It depends” which could become “It totally depends” or “It doesn’t depend at all.”
By using word combinations as a starting point, it makes it easier for you to create your own expressions when necessary. This is because you won’t be starting from scratch but rather building upon what already exists.
Another tip that might help with this process is remembering which words tend to go together in spoken English and then trying them out on paper before speaking them aloud. If they sound natural when written down then chances are they will sound natural when spoken too!
5. Improve Your Vocabulary First
Having a good vocabulary is the foundation of all other language skills: listening comprehension, speaking, reading and writing. With a wide vocabulary, you will be able to speak more clearly, express yourself better and understand people when they speak to you in English.
There is one thing that most people who can speak do better than others: They have a large vocabulary.
For example, if you want to talk about what you like to eat, you need words for food. If you want to ask your teacher for help, you need words for classroom objects or school subjects. And if you want to express how you feel about something, you need words for emotions.
You probably already know some of these words from your studies of English grammar. Knowing the grammar of a language is useful, but it is not enough on its own. Grammar is just the rules of a language; vocabulary is the words we put together using those rules.
Learning new vocabulary can be stressful, especially when you realize that you will never be able to remember them all! The good news is that you don't have to.
Native speakers do not know every word in their language. The English language has over 170,000 words in it, but we use only about 15,000 words in everyday life. You don't need a large vocabulary to speak English well — just a few thousand words!
6. Read Aloud as Often as Possible
One of the best things you can do to improve your English speaking skills is to read aloud excerpts from books as often as possible. This is a great way to practice sounding more natural when reading in English. Reading aloud also helps you become familiar with the flow of the language and builds your confidence.
Start by choosing a textbook that has dialogue or conversation between characters. Reading aloud helps you learn common patterns of speech, which will make it easier for you to speak with others. Choose books that have the same sort of English that you want to learn and sound like. If you are learning British English, for example, choose a book written for students learning British English. If you are learning American English, choose an American book. Reading many different books will expose you to many different styles of English so that you can learn from all of them.
Once you have chosen a good textbook, start reading from it every day! Although it may seem bizarre at first, reading aloud will help your pronunciation and fluency, even if no one hears what you say. It is also useful to tape-record yourself so that you can hear how your speech sounds and make adjustments as needed. You can record yourself using most cell phones and computers these days, so it’s easier than ever.
My advice is to read a little bit from your textbook every day instead of trying to read the whole book on just one or two days each week. If you read every day for 10 minutes, for example, after a year you will have read about 60 hours worth of material! Even if you only read for 5 minutes a day, that will add up to 30 hours of reading each year!
7. Read Novels in English
It is important to read English novels for improving your English speaking skills because when you read a novel, you are exposed to the language. The more exposure you have to the language, the better you will be able to communicate in English. This is true of any language.
Exposure to new material and experiences is essential for learning. In language learning, exposure is the foundation upon which all other skills build.
Novels are a rich source of vocabulary and grammar. The context that they provide makes it easier to understand and remember words and phrases than if you had just memorized words from a dictionary or list. Reading novels also helps improve your knowledge about culture, history and even geography. All this can help make your conversations more interesting and well-informed.
If reading novels on paper is difficult for you, try listening to audio versions of novels instead. You can listen while commuting or while doing some other activity where you can't read. Some people find that they can learn better by hearing rather than by reading anyway. Listening to audio books has become very popular in recent years, so it's fairly easy these days to get access to such books if you want them.
8. Watch English TV channels
Watching English TV channels is a great way to improve your English speaking skills. It’s fun, and it will help you learn more about the culture of the country where this language is spoken.
Why watch TV in English?
The best reason to watch TV in English is that you can hear how people speak in real life. You’ll hear how they pronounce words, the type of vocabulary they use, what grammar looks like in a conversation and even some slang expressions!
You’ll be able to see all these things happening at the same time. This will help you understand what native speakers mean when they say something, even if they don’t use grammatically correct sentences!
One other benefit is that you can see how people move their bodies and use hand gestures when they speak. Understanding body language is an important part of communication because sometimes we express ourselves without realizing it!
How do I find suitable content?
The best way to find suitable content for your level is to look for material that has been created specifically for learners of English. These often have subtitles in your language, which can help you follow the conversations and understand new words.
If you're at beginner level, a good place to start is BBC Learning English. This website offers a range of videos with captions in English and other languages, including Arabic, Chinese and Spanish: http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/english/features/6-minute-english
For intermediate learners there are many more options available, such as: http://learningenglish.voanews.com/
Videos from this site include both a transcript (the written version) and an interactive caption file that allows you to follow along with conversations or pause the video and read about an unfamiliar word or phrase. You can also download the vocabulary list from each episode.
There are also some websites that offer material designed specifically for advanced learners of English: http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com
9. Don’t Worry About Mistakes
What's your best advice on improving your English speaking skills?
I'd say the biggest struggle for most people is the fear of making mistakes.
When you start learning a new language, it's natural to be afraid of making mistakes. You don't want to sound silly or strange. But, if you worry too much about being perfect, you will never really improve.
Here is my advice: Stop worrying about making mistakes!
Just relax and allow yourself to make mistakes. Don't be afraid to try out new words and phrases. Sometimes, when you try something and it doesn't work, that can lead to good conversations and laughs with other people. It's all part of the learning experience!
Also, in addition to doing exercises like this one and listening to podcasts like the ones here on All Ears English, I think it's important for English learners to speak English whenever possible. Find a native speaker who wants to learn your language; then trade lessons! You can help each other! Speak as much as possible with native speakers, even if they are just friends from another country. And watch videos online (like these!) with subtitles in both languages. It's a great practice!
10. Think in English
You have to develop the habit of thinking in English, and you have to do this every time you speak. This is a big step for many people, but it’s also the one that will help you improve your English-speaking skills the most.
If you think in your own language and then translate into English, then you are not really speaking English at all - you are just translating from one language to another with a pause in between. But if you speak your thoughts directly in English, then your speech will be much more natural and fluent.
But how can you think in another language? Well, there are lots of different ways to do this. Firstly, try to use only “simple” words - because if we try to put complex ideas into a foreign language when we are speaking, it will be very difficult. The best way is to keep your ideas simple, so that they are easy to say. For example:
“I go by car” is better than “I travel by automobile”
Secondly, try to think in short sentences or phrases. It is easier to remember these than longer sentences. And don’t worry about mistakes - even native speakers make them! Just get used to expressing yourself using short, simple sentences and phrases.
Thinking in English allows you to use correct grammar and pronunciation without having to remember it consciously. When we speak our first language, we don’t actively think about the grammar rules or the phonics of each word; these have been learnt subconsciously over many years. Speaking English fluently will happen in the same way when you practise thinking in English on a regular basis. By using English at all times (even if only thinking), you will improve your fluency far more quickly than if you only speak English occasionally with friends or colleagues.
Remember that the best way to improve your English speaking skills is to practice speaking with other people. If you can’t do that at first, then try using a website or app that talks to an audio program or a computer-controlled robot. The more you practice, the better your English will become!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Muhammad Rafiq