Updated: Nov 17
We know English is an important language to learn in today’s world. While reading and writing can be learnt with ease and a little practice, the bigger question is
“How can I improve my English speaking skills?”
All of us are used to speaking and thinking in our native language, and switching to a foreign language can be confusing. Since we need to communicate in English in our professional lives, we need to practice the language consistently to become proficient in it. Language proficiency will help you communicate better in corporate world.
In this article, let’s look at some techniques by which you can speak English confidently and fluently.
1. Read books out loud
While you might be perfect at reading English in your head, it might be difficult to read out loud. Try reading passages from books aloud. Feel free to choose your own difficulty level; you could pick a simple book or a complex one.
If you get stuck on a phrase or a word, look it up immediately and understand its meaning. You can also click on the speaker-like button (follow the steps below) on most websites which will teach you the pronunciation as well! This is a great exercise that will help you speak English properly as well as learn new words and phrases.
2. Build your vocabulary and grammar
To start speaking in English, you need to have a basic understanding of common words and simple grammar rules. Learn about simple tenses at first, and as you become familiar with everyday usage and simple sentences, you can move to complex sentences.
Keep a pocket-book with you and learn new words and phrases every day. You can pick up new words from the TV, newspapers, books, music...there’s a lot of sources if you look around!
Thesaurus is a brilliant website that you can bookmark and refer to, whenever you want to learn new words, phrases, synonyms (similar words) through fun ways.
When you hear a new word, try to learn its different forms as well. You can understand how to use these words in different contexts. For example, if you learn the word ‘start’, then also learn ‘starts’, ‘started’, ‘will start’, etc. along with related words. You can find examples of word usages along with its definition.
Learning new words is not enough - try using them when you speak.
3. Learn pronunciations and stresses
English is a funny language. Words that look similar might not be pronounced the same. Look at the words ‘through’ and ‘cough’ - they have similar spellings ending with ‘ugh’, but ‘through’ is pronounced ‘thr-oo’ and ‘cough’ as ‘k-au-ff’. See how it can get confusing? Phonetics plays an important role in pronunciations, so you must learn how different words are pronounced.
The English language ‘stresses’ on some parts of a word or sentence which adds meaning to a sentence. Depending on which part is stressed on, the meaning may change. For example: ‘read’ is pronounced both as ‘r-ee-d’ as well as ‘r-e-d’, the first one being the present tense and the second being the past tense. “Did you read (r-ee-d) the book?” “Yes, I read (r-e-d) it.”
Make this a part of your learning process - observe how native speakers pronounce each word so you can imitate them and learn.
4. Understand ‘registers’
Speaking in English when you are at an interview will be different from speaking when you are with friends, right? The different style of language, tone, the vocabulary used, etc. all make up something called a ‘register’. Changing the way you speak the language depending on the situation is known as register in linguistics.
Understanding the different situations in which you will speak English is important. You cannot use casual sentences like What’s up? in a business meeting. Likewise, with friends, you will not say - It is a pleasure meeting you. It is important to use the right choice of words and sentences depending on the situation and audience you are speaking to.
5. Think in English
Have you ever observed the language of your thoughts?
If your native language is not English, then chances are, you do most of your thinking in your native language and then translate it to English while speaking.
From today onwards, try forming thoughts in English. It could be something simple like listing down your tasks for the day, questions you want to ask your colleagues, the grocery list, etc. Try and think in English as much as possible. It will be difficult at first, but you have to keep trying.
How to do this? Start by keeping a journal and write down whatever you feel like (in English!). Even a single sentence is a good start. Then, read what you’ve written out loud. Encourage yourself to form thoughts in English. Soon, you will see that you’ve become better in speaking English, too.
6. Practice in front of the mirror
Speak to yourself in the mirror. Have conversations; even simple ones like “How are you?” “I’m well, and you?” will help. If you want, pick dialogues from your favourite English movies and enact them out loud. Looking at yourself as you speak will help you build confidence. Ask a friend or someone who speaks well to correct you when you speak.
7. Use English speaking apps
There are plenty of apps that you can download onto your phone that will help you speak English confidently and fluently. It is just a matter of time and practice.
Although a quick Google search will give you many options, here are a few apps you can make use of:
DuoLingo - Using this app, you can learn to speak, read, and write in English within a few months. Remember, consistency is important!
Cambly - A tutor based app which you can use to connect with native English speakers all over the world and practice speaking with them. There are also options to learn English if you are preparing for competitive exams like IELTS.
Learn English Daily - An Android app available on the Google PlayStore, it has a wealth of information such as daily conversations, essential words, basic grammar, and a lot more to improve your English speaking skills.
8. Watch movies and TV shows
A tried-and-tested method that has been in use even before the Internet came around. Watch English movies and shows (with subtitles, if you must) and observe how the actors speak. You can pick up many pronunciations, mouth movements, tone, and vocal variety of the language from them. Re-watch a movie as many times as you like - this will help you understand the dialogues better each time you watch.
As a next step, you can write down dialogues you like and speak them out yourself. Understand the meaning and context of the dialogues to learn better.
9. Keep talking and practising
Never shy away from speaking to someone in English. In fact, on your learning journey, you need to actively encourage yourself to speak in English so that you can improve.
Start by using simple tenses and day-to-day words. You could talk to your friend or even to yourself (No, you’re not crazy!). Talk about your daily routine using simple sentences like I am eating food or I have to finish my office work by evening. Speak to family, friends, colleagues, or even neighbours if you like. Don’t hesitate. Don’t be afraid to be wrong. It does not matter whether your speech is perfect. Nobody is perfect; even native English speakers aren’t! Eventually, you will become confident in your spoken English skills.
10. Be patient, and don’t give up!
Learning a language is not a task that shows instant results. It is a process that does not have a definite time-period of completion. A few may take months, some may take years, while others may learn in just a few weeks.
On some days, you may feel like you are not progressing at all, and may want to give up. DON’T. You have definitely progressed, even if you do not realise it!
Be patient with yourself. It’s okay to make mistakes (again and again and again…); that’s how you learn. Encourage yourself and keep learning.
It is totally understandable that you would want to speed up your learning process. If you find that you’re unable to progress on your own and would like some help, we have something for you.
English Pro+ is a comprehensive, well-structured blended program designed to make English learning easy. We aim to create confident communicators who are not afraid to use the language anywhere and with anyone.
You can take a preliminary English test available on our website to understand how well you know the language. Then, if you opt for this program, you will be trained to become better at English overall (speaking, reading, understanding, writing) based on the results of your test.
Whether you are a student, graduate, working professional, or just someone looking to improve your language, this program is for you!