Surely many aspects of your career and your current job entail having excellent oral skills in English. Daily routine at work includes presentations, networking events, countless face to face meetings, video conferences, lots of telephone conversations… and the list is long!
Therefore, improving your spoken English is not just something good you should do, but it is a priority. To accomplish this goal, take into account that the oral skill is composed of four micro-skills: comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation, which includes tonal distinctions. These elements must be effectively improved if we want to express our thoughts and feelings in a passionate, convincing, assertive manner, and without being misunderstood. We advise you on learning English vocabulary.
For many learners speaking can be a headache, even a nightmare! Not only when they speak in front of an audience, but also when they talk to natives in daily situations like having an informal conversation with an Australian colleague during the coffee-break, or, when they talk to a waiter or a taxi driver when they visit a foreign country. There is no need to feel any apprehension, let’s consider speaking as a big challenge we can beat off. How? By practicing.
If you continue reading this article, you will discover five fun and helpful tips you can easily try at home and that will enhance your speaking skills and micro skills! Are you ready?
Some pieces of advice in order to make progress in speaking
- Let’s start with a common instruction from English textbooks: Listen and repeat!
In order to improve your fluency, listening and watching native speakers talk can be very useful. Go to YouTube and choose a fragment from a late night TV show, a scene from a comedy, or from one of your favorite TV series. Use captions to listen and read what they are saying. Then, pause the video and imitate the tone, the speed and the accent. Listening will allow you to concentrate on native speakers pronunciation and to pick up its variations. It can also help you learn to speak English without an accent.
- Use the shadowing technique with audiobooks
Look for the PDF of one of your favorite authors in English and download the free audiobook. If you already have an audiobook you have recently bought in your favorite bookstore, that will be simply awesome! You can also borrow one from the library. English shadowing (also called “echoing”) is a technique to improve fluency which involves repeating a piece of English audio word-for-word as you listen. Do not worry about understanding everything you’re saying: what is important is to mimic correct English pronunciation.
Before starting, be sure you are in a quiet place, without any distraction. The idea is to concentrate on the activity. Listen to the first paragraph and then when you feel ready, play it again, this time you are going to read at the same time as the narrator does. Speak along with the narrator, this way you can put into practice the natural pace, rhythm and intonation of English. Adding your own expressions will help you improve your confidence. Do it little by little, start with a paragraph, then the next day, two, then a page.
Another option: practice this technique by shadowing when you sing along to your favorite English songs.
- Learn idioms and sayings
Look for idioms and sayings similar to the ones you commonly use in your native language (Please don’t try to do it word by word, that is, without checking in a good online dictionary, or else you might be just talking nonsense!). Reflect upon the way you speak in your native language, take notes about the phrases you use in different situations. Then, find out their equivalences in English. This will enrich your vocabulary and help you become more spontaneous when you participate in a conversation. You can also use this advice to improve your level of written English.
- Record yourself!
We feel a little bit odd when we listen to the sound of our own voice, in fact, some people dislike hearing their own voice (those are generally the ones who hate leaving recorded messages in answering machines!). However, this is another technique to improve your spoken English. Record yourself reading a short text you have previously prepared, or just talking about something you like, or introducing yourself. Play the recording and check. Is it intelligible? Does it sound clear and natural? Why not? Do you articulate? What about rhythm, stress and accent? Do you swallow words? All the answers to these questions will help you monitor yourself.
If you can ask your teacher or a native friend to give you some feedback, that would be truly useful for you too.
- Learn some Yoga or Qi Gong breathing techniques and relax!
Look for some breathing techniques and apply them daily, not only when you feel anxious. If breathing correctly becomes part of your life, you will build a wall against stress. You will learn to pause and think about what you are saying without adding extra pressure.
Do you want to practice business communication oral skills?
Use our Business English platform! GlobalExam has prepared a series of modules to help you improve your spoken language. Depending on your level, the speech pace will vary: if you are a beginner, the teacher will speak more slowly, and obviously, if your level is intermediate or advanced, the teacher will use a more natural speech pace.
You will also find comprehension activities with corrections, and at the end, you can see your score and understand what your mistakes were. All your progress will be tracked, and once you have got an excellent score, you can obtain our certification. Besides:
- 25 scenario-based learning activities to get some perfect immersion!
- 500 professional life situations
- A teacher will coach you in your learning process!
Our goal is to keep you motivated while learning English online. Start practicing today!