Simple Ways to Improve Your Ability to Speak in English

Samantha Ruff
January 24, 2020 ·
8 min read
Inspiration

Speaking is the ultimate ambition when it comes to learning a language. As important as it is to learn how to read, listen, and sometimes even write in a language, it is the ability to converse with other people in all sorts of situations that is often the real objective.

Learning to speak fluently is not something that is necessarily easy to do, and it can’t always be done in a short space of time either. It takes lots of effort and lots of opportunities.

However, these simple strategies will help you speak better English more quickly than you could have at first imagined. Remember, though, it takes commitment.

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Record yourself, and listen back

Do you know how you sound when you speak English? You probably don’t even know how you sound when you speak your mother tongue, but recording yourself and listening back to the way you pronounce individual words, and the rhythm of your speech, is a really important technique to use when learning any language, and especially English.

English is full of difficult-to-pronounce words, and the rhythm of English will be completely different from what you are used to in your mother tongue. Listen to yourself. Compare yourself to native speakers. In what areas can you improve?

Use an online dictionary to check the pronunciation

Good online dictionaries, such as the Cambridge Dictionary Online, will not only provide definitions of the word but will enable you to hear the pronunciation of the word both in American and British English. Use these tools to help you discover the pronunciation of English words, and remember that there is often no relationship between the spelling of a word and its pronunciation.

Use a writing/reading app

All the language skills ­– listening, reading, writing and speaking – are related. That means by improving one of those skills, you are indirectly improving the others.

With this in mind, take advantage of one of the specially designed apps that are available to assist you in your writing and your reading. One such example is Linguix’s AI-powered writing assistant and accompanying reading tool.

The writing assistant helps you shape fantastic text for whatever purpose, from essays and school reports to college papers and any kind of business literature.

As for your reading, download the app or the free extension to Chrome, and with a simple click of your mouse, you can get a definition of any word that you have highlighted from any online text. Not only that, but the Linguix tool offers up synonyms for the word too. In this way, you can grow your vocabulary and use those newly found words in your speaking. Once again, improving one skill contributes to all the others.

Find someone to chat with

There is no substitute for a good chat, and because English is so ubiquitous, it shouldn’t be hard to find someone who speaks English who you can practice with. That person doesn’t need to be a native speaker, but someone whose level is higher than yours would be recommended.

If you can’t find anyone physically to chat with, then why not seek out an opportunity online. There are lots of opportunities to have video-chats to practice your language. Often people want to exchange languages, so you could help someone learn your language in exchange for being able to practice your English with them.

And ask to be corrected

When you have found that all-important person to practice with, make sure you tell them that you want to be corrected with all your mistakes. Do not assume that people will do this, as most won’t. Let the other person know that it’s okay for them to correct you: you need this!

Talk about complex subjects and issues (get out of your comfort zone!)

When having conversations, try to talk about subjects that require detailed vocabulary. Although you won’t necessarily know that vocabulary, it challenges you to find other ways to express yourself. If a subject seems like something that you are not confident speaking about (linguistically, not emotionally), then it is the perfect topic to practice your English with.

Write down useful words as you discover them

You will continue to learn new vocabulary in English for years. In fact, even older native English speakers continue to discover new words in the language: there are more than a million words after all.

However, do not expect to remember everything, and any words that you want to pass into your active vocabulary (meaning you want them to be words that you actually use when you speak), then have a system for learning them. Write them down somewhere as you discover them, and then make an example sentence that has some connection to you. In this way, you will be able to retain the word for later.

Listen to English as much as you can

Listening is the inspiration for your speaking, so listen as much as you can. Go from active listening (having conversations, watching TV, listening to podcasts), to passive listening (having the radio on while you are cooking, say). Absolutely everything helps, and you get used to the pronunciation and rhythm of the language this way.

Listen and read at the same time

Remember what we said about all the language skills being linked, and that when you improve one skill, you indirectly improve the others? Well, listening and reading in English at the same time will have a big impact on your ability to speak. But how can you do this?

Watch movies and TV series in English with English subtitles. Listen to songs in English and read the lyrics at the same time. Read and listen to read-along audiobooks where the words you see on the page are spoken. All of these activities help you develop two skills at once (reading and listening) and will have a big impact on your ability to speak well.

Get your English assessed

Get an idea of how good your English is. Sit an English exam such as the Cambridge First Certificate, TOEFL or IELTS (these are offered all over the world) and in particular pay attention to the feedback given on your speaking. Ask native speakers for advice and for suggestions regarding how you can improve your English. Take all feedback that you can get, and use it!

Enjoy it, in any situation!

If we don’t enjoy something, we don’t want to do it. So above all, enjoy the experience of speaking English. Never be afraid of making mistakes – other people will not judge you. Use your mistakes to improve, be comfortable in your status as a learner, and look to speak in English at any opportunity you get.

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