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How Can I Improve my Speaking in English?
- Widad , Morocco
There are several ways to improve your speaking in English.
I’ve written 5 steps to follow, and you’ll notice that some of the steps involve listening. Listening and speaking are as connected as reading and writing (which I wrote about in a previous blog entry).
In order to improve your English speaking – even to speak like a native speaker – you must train your ear to hear the distinct English pronunciation and intonation patterns. This is called developing an ear for English. If you can’t hear the subtle differences in English pronunciation and intonation, then you won’t be able to say them. It will also help you to develop the confidence necessary to become a great speaker in any language.
So, here are the 5 Steps to Improving Your Speaking:
- Passive Listening
This means listening to English podcasts, radio shows, TV shows, or any other English listening material, but just leaving it on in the background. This can be done while you are driving, or using an mp3 player and walking, or on the bus, or while cooking, cleaning, or any other daily activities.
The idea is just to get English in your head as much as possible; let it seep into your mind while you are not focused on it. It’s the first step in training your ear to hear the distinct sounds of English.
- Active Listening
With active listening, you sit down and concentrate on what you are listening to. Preferably, you should answer listening comprehension questions at the end of the listening exercise. Plus, it would also be good to have a reading script to review after you listen and answer questions.
Make notes on new vocabulary and phrases learned while listening. Notice how the words and phrases are used in sentences, so you can practice using them when you speak.
Remember, listening and speaking are very closely connected. Improving your listening skills improves your ability to speak English well.
- Repeating After Listening
Find an English language podcast that you really enjoy; it can be on any subject you like. Just make sure that the speaker speaks in a clear way that you enjoy, and there is a reading script available with the podcast.
After you actively listen to the podcast, repeat it yourself by reading from the script. In fact, the best thing to do is record yourself reading from the script. Then, listen to your recording and compare it to the podcast of the English speaker.
I know that many people do not like recording their voices and listening to the recording, but it is one of the most effective ways to improve your speaking. Many of my students who practice this strategy receive compliments on how well they speak. Plus, I do it myself to keep improving my speaking ability, so I know it works.
- Speaking with a Native Speaker
Steps 1 – 3 are self-studying methods. Steps 4 and 5 involve other people.
Speaking with a native speaker will put steps 1 – 3 into practice. You will get a chance to use your improved listening abilities by having a real conversation with a native speaker. You will also get a chance to use your new vocabulary and improved speaking skills in that same conversation.
- Speaking with a Teacher and Getting Corrected
Having conversations with friends and colleagues, who are native speakers, is very helpful. However, to experience the biggest improvements, you need someone with knowledge of the rules of the English language to actually correct your mistakes while you are speaking.
Getting general speaking practice is important, but if no one corrects your mistakes then you will keep making them forever – and you won’t know that you are making mistakes.
So, try and practice these 5 steps and see for yourself how you improve your speaking.