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Learn English Speaking: Phrases, Lessons, Tips, Courses

🗨️ ALL Espresso English speaking tips

500 real english phrases e-book


Top 10 tips to improve your English speaking

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Spoken English Tip #1: Learn phrases, not just individual words

Learn phrases to help you speak more naturally

If you study individual English words in isolation, this is what happens:

When you need to speak English, you have to think a lot in order to combine the individual words in the right order, using the right grammar, and in a way that makes sense.

That’s WAY too much work!

If you focus on learning phrases instead, then you will have ready answers and responses for any situation – no need to over-think. Focusing on phrases will help you speak English in complete sentences more naturally.

Spoken English Tip #2: Listen to more English

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.

Half of a conversation is hearing the other person – and if you don’t understand what they’re saying, how can you respond correctly? So if you want to improve your English speaking, spend more time listening to English.

We have a Listening Course that can help you improve your English listening skills step by step!

Bonus: Listening more will also help you naturally improve your pronunciation and reduce your accent.

Spoken English Tip #3: Practice speaking English by yourself (both reading aloud and speaking spontaneously)

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 words correctly

Speaking English by yourself helps train your ability to put your ideas into words

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 easily.

Speaking English spontaneously by yourself is also EXTREMELY helpful in developing your ability to put your ideas into words… without the pressure of a real conversation. You can look at a list of discussion questions and respond out loud in English – speaking alone.

It might feel a little silly, but remember – this is GREAT training for your spoken English, and there’s nobody to hear your mistakes!

Spoken English Tip #4: Practice thinking in English

Do you think in your native language and then translate it into English in your head before speaking?

Don’t do this! It often results in sentences that don’t sound natural in English, because the sentence structure is often different in English and your mother tongue.

How to Speak Fluent English: Learn to think in English

Also, it takes WAY too much time to think and translate when you’re in a conversation.

One of the biggest secrets to speaking English fast and fluently is to learn to think directly in English. The great news is that this is is a skill you CAN develop with practice, and you can practice anytime – while taking the bus, while waiting in line, while sitting at home.

Try thinking in English for a few minutes today, to start building this habit!

Spoken English Tip #5: Get an online conversation partner

“How can I practice speaking English if I have nobody to talk with?”

You can find a speaking partner on "conversation exchange" websites

There are “conversation exchange” websites where you can find a partner who speaks English, but wants to learn your native language.

You can then schedule a conversation session and speak English half the time, and your native language half the time – so that both of you can practice.

It’s a good way to step a little bit out of your comfort zone, build confidence, and have a native speaker correct any errors in a relaxed, low-pressure situation.

Here are some examples of conversation exchange websites.

So if you don’t have a conversation partner, get one today – it will really help you practice your speaking skills.

Spoken English Tip #6: Remember that communication is more important than grammar

Learn to speak English confidently

Do you get nervous when speaking because you’re afraid of making mistakes?

Remember that 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 someone learning English says:

“Yesterday I go to party in beach.”

That sentence isn’t grammatically correct – it should be:

“Yesterday I went (past tense, not present tense) to a party (need an indefinite article) on the beach (we use “on” with “the beach” and we need a definite article).”

However, it DOES successfully communicate your message, and an English speaker will understand you. It’s better to say something “wrong” and still communicate successfully than to say nothing!

Also, the grammar of spoken English is more flexible than the grammar of written English – so don’t worry too much about grammar when speaking.

Spoken English Tip #7: Speak slowly

Sloooooow down when speaking English - don't "try" to speak too fast

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.

Spoken English Tip #8: If you forget a word, use other words

It’s very common for English learners to stop a sentence in the middle because they’ve forgotten the word they want to use – but try to be creative. The other person can help you if you describe the word you want by using other English words.

Use other words when you can't remember a word

For example, one of my students was describing a recipe, and he didn’t know the word for one of the vegetables. So he said “It’s white, and like a ball, and when you cut it, you cry.”

I said, “It’s an onion.”

So you can see that my student communicated successfully by using different words, even though he didn’t know the word he wanted to use.

Spoken English Tip #9: Relax & have a positive, confident attitude

If you make mistakes 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 speak.

I speak English

So DON’T say “My English is terrible” or “Sorry for my bad English.” These are negative comments and they’re not helpful.

Instead, think “I can speak English!” before every conversation in order to give yourself more confidence and help you speak English better!

Spoken English Tip #10: Learn real English phrases for everyday life

We have an English course that focuses on useful English in the context of conversations!

Everyday English Speaking Course

Our Everyday English Speaking Course is a simple, fun, and effective way to learn new phrases and expressions – and improve your speaking ability.

Each lesson is based on conversations, and reading and listening to the dialogues will help you improve your understanding.

The next part of the lesson explains and expands upon the vocabulary you heard in the conversations, teaching you new expressions and showing you how to use them.

There are lots of practice phrases which you can listen to and repeat to improve your English speaking.

Finally, each lesson has quizzes to help you test yourself and remember the new phrases – and opportunities for you to send speaking samples and get feedback from an Espresso English teacher on your spoken English.


Common difficulties in speaking English

Want to improve your English speaking skills? For English learners, speaking is often the biggest difficulty – but it’s one of the most important English language skills.

Today I’m going to tell you why speaking English is so hard. It’s actually a combination of four different difficulties – and I’m going to give you specific tips for improving each area.

English Speaking Difficulty #1 – Listening

Remember that when you’re having an English conversation, you’re only speaking about 50% the time – the other 50% is spent listening to the other person speak. If you don’t understand what the other person is saying, it’s difficult to reply.

Here are two ways you can improve your English listening skills:

First, practice listening to English EVERY DAY. All you need is 10-15 minutes per day to develop your listening skills. You can download English podcasts and listen to them while driving, taking public transportation, exercising, or doing housework.

It’s especially important to listen to English conversations (not just lectures). Also, make sure you sometimes listen to audio made for students learning English, and sometimes audio made for native English speakers.

Next, memorize these English phrases that you can use in conversation when you don’t understand something:

  • I beg your pardon?
  • I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that.
  • Could you repeat that, please?
  • Could you say that again, please?

Listen to English more so you understand spoken English

English Speaking Difficulty #2 – Vocabulary

Sometimes when you’re speaking English, you have a sentence in mind, but you’re missing two or three important vocabulary words – and then it becomes difficult to say what you’re thinking.

The solution? Learn more English vocabulary words! But there’s a good way and a not-so-good way to learn new words. The not-so-good way is to read lists of English words and definitions, and try to memorize them.

A good way is to learn words in “families.” For example, imagine you’re in an airport. Do you know the English words for everything you see? (luggage, check-in desk, travel agency, flight attendant, boarding pass) If not, look for the words you don’t know in a dictionary.

Now think about what kind of English conversations you might have in an airport. How would you ask for help if you can’t find the gate? What would you say if you missed your flight? How about going through immigration? (See this lesson to learn travel English in the airport!)

To remember words better, write them down in your vocabulary notebook and review them regularly.

Keep an English vocabulary notebook

English Speaking Difficulty #3 – Pronunciation

English words can be difficult to pronounce – and when speaking English, you have to consider not only the pronunciation of the individual words, but also the connection between the words in the sentence. There’s also the “rhythm” and intonation of the sentence to consider – and sometimes your mouth gets confused! Most students learning English don’t focus on pronunciation, but it really helps you communicate better and sound more fluent.

There are two things that can help you improve your English pronunciation. One way is to take a pronunciation course. Another way to improve your pronunciation is to keep practicing your English listening skills. The more you listen to English, the more your pronunciation will naturally get closer and closer to a native English speaker’s pronunciation.

A good way to practice is to get an audio sample with transcript. Listen to one or two sentences (while reading the transcript), then pause the audio and try to repeat the sentences exactly as the native English speaker said them. Practicing English pronunciation like this will help you improve your accent very fast.

We have a “Shadowing” Course to make this type of pronunciation practice easy!

Learn English: Improve your pronunciation

English Speaking Difficulty #4 – Confidence

Learn to speak English confidently

If you feel nervous and are afraid of making a mistake while speaking English, then your problem is confidence. Good news – you don’t need to speak fluent English to have confidence! You can increase your confidence right now with these three tips:

First, don’t worry too much about English grammar! Just do your best to communicate, and you’ll often be successful even if you do make a small grammar mistake. Also, remember that spoken English grammar is often more “flexible” than written English grammar.

Second, keep a positive attitude. Think of yourself as an English speaker (because you are!) and focus on celebrating what you know, not being frustrated about what you don’t know.

Third, practice speaking English as much as possible in low-pressure situations. Here are two examples of low-pressure situations:

  • Talk to yourself! It might feel ridiculous, but it really helps!
  • Join a “conversation exchange” to find a native English speaker who wants to learn your native language – then you can talk to each other to practice speaking skills in both languages.

It’s extremely important to practice speaking English in low-pressure situations as much as possible to build your confidence so that you will be comfortable speaking English in a more “high-pressure” situation (like a conference, presentation, or job interview).

If you want to speak English fluently, make sure to work on these four areas – improve your listening skills, improve your English vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and increase your confidence. I hope these tips help you learn English speaking!

Speak English confidently


Where you can learn English phrases

Download our e-book to learn 500+ Real English Phrases (with audio):

500 real english phrases e-book

Watch our “Phrases” playlist on YouTube – 150+ videos to teach you common English phrases!

YouTube video

Here are some other websites where you can learn lots of English phrases to improve your speaking:

ELLLO.org has a HUGE library of 2000+ conversations and videos to help English language learners understand phrases in context. The interviews and conversations cover a wide range of topics, with many different voices and accents. The lessons include transcripts, exercises, and vocabulary explanations.

TalkEnglish.com has lessons on English speaking basics, daily conversations, business English, idioms and phrases, and much more. You can click on each phrase to listen to the audio, and repeat it to practice speaking.


How to practice English conversation

If you don’t live in an English-speaking country, there are plenty of opportunities for you to practice English conversation online! One way is to join a “conversation exchange,” and another way is to find a private English teacher.

English conversation exchange websites & apps

A “conversation exchange” is a free way for language learners to help each other. Here’s how it works: you connect with a native English speaker who is working on learning your native language. Then you practice with each other – speaking half the time in English, half the time in your native language – so that each of you can help the other person correct mistakes and speak more fluently.

HelloTalk is a language exchange app that connects users with native speakers of the language they are trying to learn. Users can chat with native speakers via text or voice messages, allowing them to practice their speaking skills in a real-life setting.

Tandem is another language exchange app that connects users with native speakers of the language they are trying to learn. The app also offers conversation prompts and challenges to help users improve their speaking skills.

Apps for finding English speaking partners

Find an online English teacher

If you want private lessons to help you learn English, finding the right teacher can make all the difference. There are tons of websites where you can find an online English teacher to help you improve your language skills. Some popular platforms include Preply, italki, Verbling and Cambly.

Preply and italki are two of the most well-known websites for finding an online English teacher. Both offer a wide range of teachers to choose from, each with their own unique teaching style and qualifications. Students can read reviews from other learners to get an idea of what to expect from a particular teacher before committing to lessons.

Verbling and Cambly offer instant access to English teachers for on-demand lessons. This is particularly useful for those who need help with specific areas of the language or have busy schedules that don’t allow for regular lesson times. With Verbling, students can schedule lessons in advance or book a lesson at short notice if they need immediate help. Cambly offers 24/7 availability with tutors ready to assist at any time.


Everyday English Speaking Courses

How can you learn to speak English more confidently?

By learning real English phrases for real situations!

The Everyday English Speaking Courses help you learn the real phrases that native English speakers use in day-to-day life.

You’ll learn exactly what to say in practical situations:

  • talking on the phone
  • ordering food in a restaurant
  • shopping, traveling, and sightseeing
  • talking about interests, relationships, and hobbies
    …and much more

You’ll also learn how to have better conversations in English

  • how to agree/disagree
  • how to make invitations and requests
  • how to give criticism and advice
  • how to express your thoughts and feelings

You’ll be able to express yourself better:

  • interesting expressions for adding emotion to your speaking
  • making connections between your ideas
  • creative idioms, slang, and phrasal verbs

Review and practice everything you learn with the included quizzes.  You can also record your speaking and get feedback and correction from an English teacher!

Learn English speaking fast:

Learn more & sign up today!

😍 What students say about the Speaking Course

Over 10,000 students have taken the Everyday English Speaking Course!

Here are some of their comments:

“This course is a really quick, interesting and easy way to study real English words and phrases in context.”
– Daia

I loved this course! It made my life easier. My memory is better and I’m not too shy as I was before. Thank you so much!”
– Marisa

“I found the Everyday English Speaking Course to be one of the best. It covers a wide range of topics, and it definitely exceeded my expectation.”
– Mak

“The course is awesome, very informative, easy to use, I love it. Having both text and video lessons, the mini quizzes and the option of recording yourself or sending you our progress and getting feedback.”
– Erika

“I like the speech I have to record at the end of each lesson because it makes me speak. The feedback that you send by email is really helpful and unique.”
– Marisa

Learn more & Join the course