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How to improve your speaking skills

After sending out issue 6 of my newsletter in which I recommended homestays as a way of learning English, a reader got in touch with the following question

“How can I improve my speaking if I am not able to go abroad?”

This is a topic close to my heart as speaking is such an essential and enjoyable skill.

Here are some tips to help you practice your speaking skills

1. Improve your listening skills

Remember that conversations are two-way. You don’t just need to speak, you also need to listen carefully and respond appropriately. Anything you do to improve your listening should have a positive impact on your speaking.

2. Don’t worry about the words you don’t know

This one is crucial! Part of the fun of having a conversation in a foreign language is that you won’t always find the right word. Instead, you might have to use body language, draw pictures, mime or describe what you want to say in a different way. The listener will almost certainly want to help you. In all my years of teaching I’ve never been completely stumped by a student. There’s always a way of communicating.

3. Read aloud

Find a favourite book and read one page a day out loud. You’ll get a sense of how the words should sound, especially if you can combine this with listening to the audio book.

4. Talk to yourself

You can even record yourself on your phone and listen back to it to check for pronunciation, repetition and other areas of improvement.

5. Find English speakers

Do you know any English speakers who live nearby and are willing to do a tandem language exchange with you? One important point to agree in advance is error correction, If you want someone to correct your mistakes, you’ll probably have to ask them to do this.

6. Join a conversation class

Here you’ll get a range of interesting topics to discuss, you’ll meet fellow learners and your teacher will be able to provide lots of useful feedback.

7. Don’t compare yourself to others

It’s enough to look at your own progress and set your own goals. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself about speaking:

  • Do I use English as often as possible?

  • Do I feel more confident?

  • How do I feel speaking in a group/ speaking with one other person?

  • Which new words have I learned recently?

  • What could I do to improve my speaking skills?

  • What topics do I want to talk about?

Remember - the more you speak, the more you'll learn!

Over to you now. Which of the tips have you found most helpful? Make a video (via Loom) and send it to me!


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