Most of my students have the same complaint about their ESL education, they didn’t practice speaking! Some spent up to 10 years learning English but when it comes to putting it into practice they are having a hard time finding their words and producing the correct sounds. If you want to improve your speaking skills, here are my favorite 5 ways:
1. Think in English – it may sound strange, but this is an excellent way to improve your fluency when learning a new language. Most of the time you get stuck translating from your language into English. This makes your speech slow and awkward. If you want to sound natural, think in English as often as possible.
2. Read aloud – pick up a newspaper or a magazine that is interesting to you. Find an article and read it aloud. Alternatively, when you watch your favorite English language show (you are watching at least 5 hours of English programming per week, right?) pause and repeat after your favorite star.
3. Phonetics – take a course or invest in a book. It is worth while to invest in private lessons to help you to improve your speech. An experienced ESL teacher can show you the English phonemes and the correct way to produce the sounds, as well as other pronunciation rules like word linkage and stress. Hire me!
4. Record yourself – use a voice or video recording software. Pick a short video clip or sound file. Record yourself repeating after the person in the video. Listen to yourself and compare.
5. Join a conversation group – there are local groups of people that get together to practice their conversational English. It’s a fun way to make new friends while you practice speaking. An excellent one is Meetup.com. Alternatively, join online groups where people are interested in doing language exchanges. Practice speaking every chance you get!