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Speaking English: 10 ways to improve

Speaking English

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Speaking English is difficult for many learners. In this article, I’ll give you 10 ways to speak English better: 5 ways to improve your spoken English at home, and 5 ways to improve your spoken English while in a conversation.

5 ways to improve your spoken English at home:

1) Improve your English pronunciation

Good pronunciation will help people understand your spoken English clearly, even if you don’t know many words. There are three levels of pronunciation, and most English learners need some improvement in their pronunciation. You can practice your pronunciation with Espresso English pronunciation lessons.

2) Listen to more English

Most English learners read too much and listen too little. But when babies and children learn English, they listen first – then speak – and later learn to read and write. If you want to improve your English speaking, spend more time listening! You can use the listening lessons on Espresso English as well as the reading and listening lessons – listen to the audio while you read the text, then read the text out loud (speaking), trying to imitate the pronunciation you heard in the audio.

3) Practice reading English out loud (read and speak)

When you speak English, there are two main difficulties:

  • The mental difficulty of thinking of the English words to say
  • The physical difficulty of pronouncing the English words correctly

Reading English texts out loud will help you with the second part without having to worry about the first part. It will train your mouth and lips to pronounce English words more naturally. I suggest reading every text out loud two times. The first time, read slowly and focus on pronouncing each word correctly. Circle the words that are difficult to pronounce and repeat each one ten times. The second time, read faster and focus on making your English “flow,” speaking each sentence with a natural rhythm.

4) Learn phrases, not just individual words

Whenever you learn a new word, try saying it in a complete sentence. For example, let’s say you learn the word “sunglasses.” You can create some sentences:

  • I bought new sunglasses yesterday.
  • How much are these sunglasses?
  • I like your sunglasses – where did you get them?
  • My sister lost her sunglasses.
  • Don’t forget to bring your sunglasses when we go to the beach.

Say each sentence ten times to practice and memorize it. If you do this with every new English word you learn, it will help you speak English in complete sentences more naturally.

5) Learn from real English conversations

You can study English conversations with the Practical English lessons on Espresso English. If you live in an English-speaking country, pay attention to the English conversations around you. If you don’t have contact with native English speakers, watch TV shows and movies in English with English subtitles to learn English conversation patterns.

5 ways to improve your spoken English in a conversation:

1) Remember that when speaking English, communication is more important than grammar

The #1 goal of speaking English is to communicate. Although grammar is important, it is less important than communication when speaking English. Here’s a simple example – if you say:

Yesterday I go to party on beach.

The sentence isn’t grammatically correct, but it successfully communicates your message, and an English speaker will understand you. It’s better to say something “wrong” and communicate successfully than to say something “right” but fail to communicate – for example, if you said:

Yesterday I…

…and then stopped because you were too worried about perfect grammar!

So the lesson is: Don’t worry too much about grammar when speaking English.

2) Speak slowly

Trying to speak English too fast won’t make you sound like a native speaker. Instead, it can actually make it more difficult for the other person to understand you. Speaking English slowly has two advantages:

  • It gives you more time to think of what to say
  • It makes your speech clearer so the other person can understand

Over time and with practice, your spoken English will get faster naturally.

3) Think in English

Try not to think in your native language and translate in your head – this makes speaking English more difficult, especially since many things don’t translate well. Thinking in English is something you can practice all the time, but it’s especially important when speaking English.

4) If you forget a word, use other words to describe it

It’s very common for English learners to stop a sentence in the middle because they’ve forgotten the word they want to use. In this case, the other person can help you if you describe the word you want by using other English words:

“What does your sister look like?”

“She’s very tall, and… um… she’s… what’s the opposite of ‘fat’?”

“Thin?”

“Yes! She’s tall and thin.”

Click here for a lesson about “opposite,” “similar,” and other phrases you can use to describe a word you don’t know.

5) Relax and have a positive, confident attitude!

If you make a mistake or forget a word when you are speaking English – it’s OK! Don’t be nervous or afraid. The person who you’re talking to will understand and be patient with you. If you are insecure when speaking English, it will be even more difficult to think of the words you know.

Try this tip: before every English conversation, think “I can speak English!” three times to give yourself more confidence and help you speak better!

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