For many students, the greatest challenge when learning to speak English is not vocabulary or pronunciation, but finding the courage to practise. You might find that you can talk with ease about a particular topic in the classroom, but in real-world scenarios, suddenly – you’re stuck for words.
Just remember that every time you communicate in English, however imperfectly, you will improve. It’s not always easy to try something that we feel we might fail at, but the rewards can be great when we do. Here are some simple tips to help you find your speaking confidence.
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Switch on the TV or radio
An easy, everyday way to engage with English is by watching TV or listening to the radio. Instead of playing something in the background, give the programme your full attention so that you have a better chance of understanding the context and absorbing the words. Find a show that you really enjoy – whether it’s a drama series, light comedy, or the news – and play it regularly so that you become familiar with patterns and common words.
Reading is the foundation of language development. Ideally, you will read as frequently and widely as possible to give yourself the best chance at making progress in all areas. Read the daily headlines online, or choose an interesting novel and commit to finishing a chapter a night. This will help to expand your vocabulary so that your spoken English is more free-flowing, and you feel equipped to talk in a variety of situations. One handy piece of advice is to read to yourself outloud to practise taking the words off the page and into a conversation.
It can be tricky balancing your English studies with other demands on your time, but if you don’t study daily, you might not progress at the pace you would like to. If you can, put aside some time each day when you can concentrate without distraction. This regular, consistent routine will help you to retain and build on what you have learnt, so that you truly get the most out of the effort you are applying.
Practice, practice, practice
We often say this, but as with anything in life that you want to succeed in, the best strategy is to practise. Team up with a friend or learning buddy so that you can encourage and motivate each other – support will be an important part of your journey towards fluency. Challenge yourselves to only speak in English; perhaps you could watch a movie and discuss the plot together afterwards?
If you have specific aims, engage the help of a language specialist. Whatever your ability, they can equip you with the learning tools to speak English with greater accuracy and ease.