13 Tips and Tricks to Strengthen Your English Speaking!
Thanks to the increasing and far-reaching effects of globalization, having strong English skills proves invaluable for access to opportunities, whether they be social, individual, or economic. Plus, the better your English is, the better the conversation will be! You can finally do that with these tips and tricks on English Speaking! One can broaden their horizons and get to know new people or perform new jobs if you are fluent in English. You can use English to communicate with just about anyone in the world – so why not improve your skills and ensure you are clearly understood? In this post, we’ll talk about the most important things to get you started, and how to build upon these basic skills to make you a clearer and more competent conversationalist.
Tips and Tricks: Back to the Basics
Building your vocabulary is one of the best and most basic ways to improve your English. As an English speaker, you will encounter a wide variety of situations and people that will require you to use a diverse assortment of words and phrases. Why not prepare for these situations by learning new words now?
Q. How many words per day?
A. The exact number is not important – set a reasonable goal for yourself, such as five new words per day. Have a friend or family member check in with you about your progress periodically – or better yet, have them learn with you! The more words you can learn, the better, but even if you can only learn one per day, it’s still better than none. Those words add up, and by the end of the year, you will have hundreds of new words in your vocabulary.
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Q. Ok, so I’ve set a goal…now where do I find these words?
A. This is the fun part! Once you start looking, you’ll notice new vocabulary all around you – in the shows you watch, the conversations you have with coworkers, the articles you read, the music you listen to – the possibilities are endless. Pay attention the next time you’re listening to your favorite English song or watching your favorite American TV show. I bet you’ll notice lots of unfamiliar words! And of course, there are plenty of resources online that will help you discover new words as well.
Q. Oh, awesome! I’ve found a lot of words. How do I learn them?
A. This is where the hard work comes in. There are a few elements to keep in mind as you learn:
1. Learn them in context. Keep track of where you found the word, and make note of the sentence or situation it was used in. Then, write down the definition of the words, maybe include a translation to your native language for reference, but most of your writing here should be in English. Be sure to learn the rules for your word too – if a noun is countable or uncountable, if your verb has an irregular conjugation, and so on.
2. Use it or lose it! Once you’ve got a definition, create some sentences with your new word – the more detailed and creative, the better! You want to remember the word the next time you see it, and you want to be able to use it yourself. But don’t stop there! Be sure to come back and revisit your words to practice them so you don’t forget.
3. Learn the pronunciation. Having a robust vocabulary in writing is great, but most of us learn a language to speak it. As you’re learning new words, do a little research if you don’t know how to say it – listen to the scene in the TV show again, repeat the lyric in the song, or find a native speaker on YouTube who is pronouncing it. Google also has a great feature where it will provide a clear and accurate pronunciation for many words.
Speaking of pronunciation, this is another key element to getting you on the right track to clear communication. Identify the sounds that are the most difficult for you to create – commonly mispronounced English sounds include TH, R, L, and Long vs. Short I. There are many resources and videos online that will provide detailed explanations and tutorials for how to produce even the most difficult English consonants and vowels. Try researching difficult English sounds for learners who speak your native language to get an idea of what you might struggle with specifically.
Repetition here is important! The best way to improve your pronunciation is to repeat words that include these difficult sounds. Once you have perfected them on their own, try saying these words in sentences to get used to how they will feel when you say them naturally as you speak. Tongue twisters are a helpful and fun way to practice difficult sentences, too!
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Learn the Rhythm, Feel the Music
Ok, so now that you’re working on your vocabulary and you’re practicing your pronunciation, it’s time to get ready to say some sentences. Every language has a rhythm, and that rhythm might be different for different languages. If you speak English with a Spanish rhythm, for example, it will sound a little funny! There are a few things to focus on when it comes to learning this rhythm:
1. Stress patterns in words.
Every word is made up of syllables, and some of those syllables will be stressed. Try to learn the stress patterns of words as you learn them – but note that once you are familiar, word stress becomes more or less predictable.
As you’ve probably noticed, there are lots of words in English that get squished together – not only in writing, but in speaking especially! Words like “I” and “am” come together to form “I’m,” “do” and “not” become “don’t,” “we” and “have” becomes “we’ve,” etc. Keep track of contractions and try to incorporate them for smoother, more natural speech!
3. Stress patterns in sentences.
Just like every word has a special stress pattern, phrases and sentences have stress patterns, too. English is a stress-timed language, which means the words in a sentence that carry the most meaning (called “content words”) get the most emphasis and time, while shorter, less meaningful words are said faster with less stress. Content words are usually nouns, verbs, negatives like “not” or “don’t,” or question words, but it is possible for other words to be content words depending on the situation.
Sentence stress combines word stress and the flow of contractions to create the overall “rhythm” of English. Try to listen for this rhythm the next time you listen to an English speaker – you will hear their voice go up and down, get louder and quieter, faster and slower.
Confidence is Key in English Speaking!
So many new English speakers know the rules inside and out, have a big vocabulary, or can speedily recite tongue twisters. But what many new speakers lack is the confidence to put their skills to good use by actually having a conversation. In this case, the best way to learn is by doing – the only way you will become a fully confident speaker of English is to speak English. You can increase your confidence by working on your basic skills, but know that you are building your skills with the goal of speaking aloud with others.
Create a Persona
Of course, it is always important to be yourself. You want to be authentic! But when it comes to speaking a new language, it can help to improve your confidence and your speaking skills by creating a persona. You don’t just want to speak English – you want to be an English speaker. Build your English-speaking persona by thinking about an iconic native speaker. Maybe your favorite American actress, or a Canadian singer you really like. Pay attention to how they speak – how they move their mouth, their body language, their facial expressions, the tone of their voice. Copy the things you like, change the things you don’t, but most importantly, add your own touch.
Tips and Tricks to Build from the Basics.
Once you’re comfortable with the basics, you can try some of these activities to continue building your confidence and knowledge.
Repeat After Me
This is a bit similar to creating a persona – the main difference here is that you want to copy a native speaker closely. Choose anything, like a scene in a TV show, the lines in a song, or a commercial for cereal, and listen to it as many times as you can. Pay attention to the pronunciation, the rhythm of their speech, and their tone. Now, you want to repeat after the speaker exactly, copying the patterns and rhythm of their speech. If you practice this often, you will begin to sound more and more natural.
Talk to Yourself
This might make you sound crazy…crazy good at speaking English! Throughout the day, speak to yourself in English out loud. If you are cooking dinner, pretend you are the chef on a cooking show. If you’re looking for something, narrate your search through the house. You can also read a book or news article out loud. Better still, you can record yourself as you speak or as you read, and go back to listen to the recording to hear what you can improve on. It doesn’t have to be perfect – you just want to get used to speaking English throughout the day.
Think in English
You’ve been talking to yourself and repeating other speakers like a parrot. But how can you change that little voice in your head – after all, that voice should be speaking English too, no? You can train yourself to think in English by asking yourself questions in English or writing down your thoughts or daily activities. Again, this doesn’t have to be perfect! You just want to incorporate English into your daily life.
Become a Storyteller
You don’t have to be the world’s next Shakespeare, but practicing your English using familiar stories is a great way to hone your speaking skills. It’s best to start by retelling stories you know by heart, whether they are from your favorite book, a traditional myth, or a childhood movie. Start small and start simple, and before you know it, you’ll be telling your own tales.
Practice Makes Perfect!
As previously mentioned, “use it or lose it!” lends itself well to the process of learning a new language. You can build your skills, but the best way to really practice them is by speaking with other people. But what if you don’t live in an English-speaking country? What if none of your friends speak English? This does make practicing a bit trickier, but these days, there are countless resources available for English learners looking to have a conversation – and some of those resources may be closer than you think!
Find your People
Universities, libraries, community centers, and theaters may provide events or social get-togethers where people come to interact and practice their speaking skills. Check out Facebook groups, university websites, or town advertisements to see if there are any events near you. It might be scary at first, but your English will be better because of it!
Try a Language Café!
Maybe you want a quieter setting or a cozier atmosphere than a big social event. Never fear! Many towns and cities have universities that have language cafes where people can congregate and speak together in smaller, more informal groups. Try looking on social media for language café groups near you! There are also countless options online for virtual language cafes – the possibilities are endless.
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If you’d rather not leave your house or you have a hectic schedule and can’t fit in regular lessons or conversation events, there are plenty of apps online that will help pair you with another person looking to practice their English. Simply sign up for an account, introduce yourself, and get started! You will be paired with someone who already knows English, and wants to learn your native language. This is a rich opportunity for exchange! Some apps require a paid subscription, but others are totally free – research online to find a good fit, and you’ll be having English conversations from your favorite sofa in no time.
Chat with a Robot
Virtual interlocutors like Siri or Alexa are a great, low-stress option for practicing your speaking and listening skills. They aren’t the best conversationalists, but they’re pretty good listeners, so long as you are speaking clearly. This is a good way to practice your pronunciation and rhythm, as well as the overall clarity of your speech. Because they are robots, they will only understand or respond if your English is clear. Try giving different commands, asking questions, or playing around with intonation to see what they say back. They know a few good jokes, too – and learning a good English joke or two can come in handy!
Learning any language takes hard work and dedication. Learning English will be a lifelong process – there will always be new things to learn, because English is constantly evolving and changing. Plus, you’ll be meeting new people and encountering new situations, too! Mastering the basic skills and continuing to practice will ensure you have a foundation strong enough to endure whatever comes your way. And, of course, don’t forget to have fun!
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