The language skills are most often divided into reading, writing, listening and speaking. when learning a second language, the student acquires the basics of all these skills from their academic circumstances. But most often, we can see that second language learners are least confident when it comes to their skills in speaking. This could be because listening and speaking are more dynamic than the other two skills, where you have time to think and analyse the correctness of structure and meaning of a particular sentence. But there is no time to hesitate in the case of speaking without sounding like an incompetent speaker. Even if you have academic excellence in English you will never be considered an expert if you don’t speak it fluently.
Non-native English students have to overcome additional challenges like mother tongue influence to sound more like native speakers. Additionally, for this, they have to know slang, cultural idioms and contractions. To achieve the skill that is fluent speech, one has to move beyond textbooks and grammar practice worksheets and try to speak in English as often as you can. So, to express the language skills in your brain fluently during a conversation, you need to practise.
How to do speaking practice?
Given below are a few techniques you can apply to achieve fluency in English speaking. some of these methods can be used when practising English speaking skills when you are alone and without a speaking partner.
- Think in English- When you are a non-native speaker of the English language who learned English as a second or third language, you have a hurdle to overcome. People most often think in their mother tongue. Then they have to translate this thought that they made in their mother tongue to the target language, in this case, English, with a voluntary effort. The translation is not the easiest thing to do even when you are well versed in both your native and the target language. And this translation taking place in your mind takes up some time and this will affect the speed and fluency of your speech. The only way to overcome this is to train your mind to think in English. You can select the most mundane subjects for this. You can think about the diet plan of the week in English or go through the events of your day in English. You can even resort to making use of an English to English dictionary to discourage your mind from seeking help from your native tongue every time it hits a hurdle. When you start thinking in English you will see that your speaking also has improved.
- Make use of online platforms- Language learners benefit from English-language movies, TV shows and similar media content. These types of content can help you learn about conversational flow, pronunciation, and everyday vocabulary. However, watching English-language media can be challenging. English Native speakers speak quickly and with a variety of accents. You must also pause videos and consult a dictionary if you hear a term you don’t recognize. Even if there are subtitles, language learners may find it challenging to keep pace with them. But switching on subtitles seems to beat the purpose of using media for learning a language. But what is more effective is to use online platforms or tools that are designed to aid beginner level language learners. Many apps offer speaking practice online. Here you can listen to short phrases in the target language i.e. English and repeat them back. These platforms will record your response and check the accuracy of stress and pronunciation. Some even offer tests and grammar and listening exercises after each lesson.
- Focus on sound stress- Stress is used in English words and sentences. That implies you will need to stress or emphasize particular words and syllables (sounds) when speaking English to give them distinct meanings. When native speakers speak, pay attention to where they put the stress. To improve your English stress, try repeating it in the same way. This will not only help you speak English fluently, but it may also help you avoid misunderstandings. Putting the focus on the wrong syllable can radically change the meaning of a word.
- Talk to yourself- this method can be used especially when you don’t have a peer to practise spoken English. This will be especially useful when you have already started practising thinking in English. Start voicing your thought out loud. Even if you don’t have anybody to correct your blunders, simply speaking English out loud will help you grow more comfortable.
- Learn more about registers in the English language- You must be familiar with the various English registers to speak successfully in English. A register is a collection of words and phrases that you utilize based on the scenario you’re in. For instance, how you talk English to a colleague differs from how you would speak to a child, which differs from how you would speak English at a business meeting. To improve your speaking, you must be able to switch between all English registers with ease. This implies you should be aware of which register to use with your friends, at work, and with strangers.
- Speak in front of a mirror- Take a few minutes out of your day to stand in front of the mirror and talk whenever you can. Set a timer for two or three minutes and just talk about anything that comes to your mind. The goal of this practice is to keep a close eye on your mouth, face, and body language while speaking. It also gives you the impression that you’re conversing with someone, so you can act as if you’re having a conversation with a study partner. Talk for at least two or three minutes. Don’t give up. Try expressing your idea in a different way if you get stuck on a word you don’t know. After the two to three minutes are gone, you can always find up how to pronounce that term.
- Grammar is important, but not more than fluency- Being too concerned about grammatical errors makes you a hesitant speaker. You will stop in between words and even stutter during important conversations. How often do you pause when speaking English? The more you pause, the less confident you appear and the less at ease you get. During speaking exercises, challenge yourself to speak without pausing or stammering (taking pauses between phrases). It’s okay if your phrases aren’t entirely grammatically correct as a result of this. You will still be understood and sound better if you focus on speaking fluently rather than correctly. As you gain a better understanding of the language and word rules, you can fill in the gaps.
- Practise tongue twisters- Practising tongue twisters will help you with the right adjustment of tongue and mouth which enhances the pronunciation.
- Sing with your favourite singer- You can improve your English fluency by singing along to your favourite English songs. This is a tried-and-true, science-backed language learning method. If you want to take it a step further, you can put your rap talents to the test. Rap is an excellent approach to improving your English skills because the words are generally pronounced in sentences. The rapper, on the other hand, uses a faster pace and a stronger rhythm. Some of the words may be difficult to understand, but if you can keep up with the rapper, you’ll soon be fluent.
- Learning Word forms- When you learn a new word during vocabulary remember to learn their different forms too. It is critical to understand how to correctly use a word in any sentence. This understanding will come in handy when you’re speaking. You won’t have to pause and think of new words since you’ll know when to utilize that word while speaking.
- Learn phrases- It is better if you learn phrases rather than learning words alone. This will help you sound more like a native speaker. Otherwise, your speech will be grammatically and structurally correct but will be a wide deviation from what expression is used normally in similar circumstances in that language. When speaking, phrases and expressions can help you sound more natural. You should also learn the most common idioms and phrases and the way to use them in conversation in the basics.
- Be prepared- You can prepare the possible conversations before going to be in a particular scenario. For example, if you have a doctor’s appointment you can look up words or phrases that describe your ailment properly. If you are calling someone to make an enquiry, you can decide what questions need to be asked and how to ask them. Similarly, if you are going to attend a job interview think of possible questions the employers might ask, prepare accurate and detailed answers for them and practise them in front of a mirror.
- Learn phonetic symbols- The International Phonetic Association (IPA) alphabet, sometimes known as the IPA chart, is a useful aid for learning correct pronunciation. The IPA alphabet is a chart that includes all of the sounds found in all of the world’s languages. Of course, you only need to master the sounds of English, but once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to pronounce every phonetic transcription you see without hesitation. It may appear tough to learn the IPA alphabet, but it is well worth the effort.
- Take courses with English speaking practice online- Online learning is getting increasingly popular. Furthermore, the offer is so large that the price is frequently free. Thousands of courses are available online to help you enhance your English-speaking abilities.
- Narrate things and events- Describe what you see while you’re outside in a way that’s similar to describing objects. Try to describe what you notice when walking to the supermarket or taking public transport. It’ll be like taking a tour of your neighbourhood, but the storyteller will be you. You are not required to speak aloud if you do not like to or are unable to do so. Instead, do it in your thoughts and listen to your inner voice. The more you practice, the easier it will be to hold a genuine discussion with others. It will also assist you in developing a habit of thinking in English.
- Read- Do you want to enhance your speaking abilities? Then you must begin reading as well. It is impossible to improve one aspect of a language (such as speaking) unless you also practice and improve in other areas. Reading makes your brain work, which helps you improve your speaking skills. When you read, you most likely hear your head or inner voice pronounce the words. Aside from that, you can learn new words in context that you can use later in conversations. Finally, while reading, you will mostly come into contact with correct, well-structured English. The more you read, the quicker your brain will recognize patterns and groups of words that are normally associated. When you have those patterns memorized, you can use them without hesitation in your conversations. In short, we can say that reading improves our grammar.
- Converse with your smart device- Most smartphones and devices allow you to speak into their microphones, allowing you to perform a variety of tasks using only your voice rather than your fingers. You might have used this to tell Siri or Cortana what to do or to voice a message instead of typing it on the keyboard. These qualities can be quite beneficial to your speaking practice. You can test how effectively your smartphone understands your spoken English after changing the language settings to English. The device will be forthright and display you the words it believes you have said. You can then see whether there is anything you need to improve, such as your pronunciation, grammar, or word choice. Of course, the technology may not always operate well, so it is not necessarily your fault if your words are not picked up correctly.
- Imitate native English speakers’ techniques- Imitation, often known as mimicry, is an important strategy for learning a foreign language. When you’re watching something with English speakers, try to copy what they say after or during their speech. Match the way they utter their words as closely as possible. To improve your pronunciation, you can also watch how their lips move.
- Note down and rectify your mistakes- Don’t be embarrassed if you make a mistake in your spoken English. Instead, whether it’s a mistake in your speech, grammar, or word choice, write it down or remember it. Determine what went wrong, and then seek out any information you require to correct and comprehend your errors. Many of your errors are likely to be understandable or frequent to non-native speakers, therefore you should never try to hide them from them. Analysing mistakes is one of the most effective methods a learner can employ to confidently enhance their skills.
- Language exchange programs- Joining a language exchange program is another interesting option to practice speaking English. Users are paired with native speakers in such programs. You will have the opportunity to converse in English with a native speaker through these programs.
All the techniques given above will aid you to improve your English speaking skills. The key to attaining fluency is persistence and practice. Download the Entri app to improve your English-speaking skill by joining courses for speaking practice online.