English has broken the cultural frontiers and is considered the lingua franca for business and leisure. Mastering it literally opens career opportunities and doors to a wider social life if you can hold thoughtful conversations. Hence the need to improving your English-speaking skills.
So, how can you improve your English-speaking skills?
Grow your vocabulary.
I you want to communicate effectively, you must know a wide variety of words. So, your priority should be learning them.
First establish how many new words a day you are prepared to learn and commit to make it happen. Some people recommend 10 words a day, but I understand that this number may vary depending on the time you have available for a daily language activity. Bear in mind that even if you decide to learn just one new word every single day, you will have learned 365 words at the end of the year. So, do not underestimate this activity.
Keep a habit tracker either in a notebook or download an App, to document your progress. This will also help you keep motivated.
Tv programs, series, newspapers, songs, and podcasts can help you harvest these new words whilst remaining highly entertaining activities at the same time.
Write down new phrases and expressions that you come across with. For this purpose, I would recommend that you keep a vocabulary notebook.
The chunking method is one of the best ways to add new vocabulary to your language arsenal.
Some researchers advocate chunking as the best method. They assure that it helps you learn the words you want to memorise, but also it allows you to recall them when necessary.
Our brain is not wired to remember isolated words but to recall short patterns of maximum four items at a time. Hence the importance of fitting the words you are learning into groups your brain can easily remember. Learn words that are related by a strong context, such as words that- when together- have a totally different meaning than each word separately. For example, how’s it going? Which means the same as How are you?
You should also aim at improving your pronunciation.
When memorising a new word, make sure that you also learn its correct pronunciation. It would be useless if people do not understand when you are using them. This will boost your confidence at the same time when engaged in conversations. You can search for correct word-pronunciation in online dictionaries like the Macmillan or use the Google translate features.
Get used to English intonation.
Pay attention to the flow of the English language when listening to native speakers and try to replicate it in your language practice.
Use the shadowing technique to help you.
How does language shadowing work?
It is a simple yet powerful method to help you improve your language speaking skills.
✔Choose a video or a song
✔Get the transcript. You read as the native speaker talks.
✔You repeat exactly word for word every sentence the native speaker utters, after a pause.
✔Try to copy the sounds you hear. Pay attention to pronunciation, stress, pause, intonation.
✔And finally, Without the text, you listen to the native speaker whilst shadowing every word and sentence you hear (you can even try to say them at the same time).
Here are the benefits of shadowing.
🎯 Shadowing helps you prevent translating in your native language.
🎯After a while you can talk confidently in English.
🎯You reduce your accent (having an accent is perfectly alright in my opinion if it does not prevent communication).
🎯Your pronunciation improves and you sound more natural.
🎯Listening to native speakers becomes easier.
🎯You learn to listen to the sounds and patterns in your target language and you produce the same sounds effortlessly.
🎯You are more confident at speaking.
Talk to yourself.
It might sound strange, but there I no better way to use daily English vocabulary when there are no native speakers around. Tell yourself what you are planning to do during the day, what you are going to have for lunch, make a recording of your shopping list, set your voice reminder in English.
You can also read out loud pages from a book or newspaper articles.
Make recordings of yourself.
Record yourself and play it back. Pay attention to your pronunciation and intonation. If you have a language learning buddy or a tutor, ask for feedback and make the necessary changes.
Read a story and record yourself retelling it in your own words. This is a wonderful practice to showcase your speaking ability. Choose different and simple words to do so.
Find Apps that allows you to speak to native speakers online. One of them is HelloTalk. You register for a free account; you fill a short bio with the languages you speak and highlight your intention to practice English. You will find then, exchange language partners.
Do not forget, other language forums and Facebook groups where you can also find people ready to help you practicing.
Build your confidence.
Take private lessons.
The best way to have an all-in-one practice, feedback and accountability is by having a private tutor. You should focus your goal on conversations that can allow you a great deal of practice. Anyway, in this session, there is no point in feeling embarrassed because the aim is for you to get guidance to improve.
Choose topics that interest you, to make the sessions more enjoyable. Prepare each topic beforehand, learn the relevant chunks and filler words so that the conversation looks more natural.
Practice makes perfect. The more you do the easier it will become at gathering your thoughts and expressing yourself in English. It will not be easy at first but with time and dedication you will soon reap the benefits of your effort.