Humans have struggled with speaking skills since the dawn of our existence. As you know, speaking in English is a world apart from being fluent in it. Then the question is, how can one become a fluent English speaker? And the answer is “with lots of practice”! Although that’s a cliche answer, it is true nevertheless. And the best way to practice speaking is by shaping your habits around the English language. Habits are a powerful tool that shape who we are and what we know, hence why the habits discussed below are so effective in improving English speaking skills.
Numerous studies have shown, that thinking in a different language improves decision making, thinking in addition to contributing to improved speaking skills. At first, you are going to feel uneasy or odd about thinking in a different language but over time you’ll get used to it. By internalizing the new language you are essentially practicing talking without actually talking. As Vygotsky, the famous psychologist puts it, thinking is basically self-talk internalized.
Everyone knows you need to talk more if you want to get better at it. But it’s never that easy, is it? Not everyone is comfortable with talking to others especially if you are not fluent in the language. However, you need to get out of your comfort zone else your speaking ability won’t improve as much. Start by making small conversations with people you are not going to see often. That way you won’t be overthinking what you should say since you will most likely not talk to that person in the future. For instance, you can also engage in conversations with your barber, store cashiers, etc. So the next time you are grabbing a coffee, ask the cashier how their day was and go from there. Over time you will gain more confidence in your speaking ability. You can then push yourself to advance to longer conversations with people at work, school, etc.
Read anything that’s in English out loud no matter what you are reading (whether it’s your lecture notes or a Game of Thrones book). There are a number of advantages to reading aloud. Some of which include:
- Engaging your brain with the language more due to the combination of hearing, speaking, and thinking.
- Sharpening your ear so that you can detect dialogue and narrative.
- Helping you recognize your writing style, structural mistakes, and your writing flow when reading your own writings.
It’s common knowledge that babies grow up shadowing their parents’ speech. The shadowing technique speeds up learning by combining careful listening with rehearing/repeating the spoken language. And that’s how babies learn to speak! That’s why the same technique is so effective with any grown-ups as well. But what can you shadow? It may sound silly but shadowing videos and films is a great start. When watching anything in English try to imitate what they say once in a while. It’s highly recommended to keep the read the English captions as well as it will speed up learning even more. Overall, the shadowing technique will help you improve your speaking fluency, pronunciation, and vocabulary in the long run.
So you come across a new word and you want to know what it means. What most people do is translating the word to their native language using services like Google Translate. This is a no-go if you want to expand your vocabulary. Furthermore, some words don’t necessarily have any exact translations from your native language. Instead of looking up the meaning of English words in your native language, you should use English dictionaries that define the words. By reading the definition of words in the very same language you are trying to learn, you are adapting your brain to English and it’s composition. But how does this help with speaking skills you may ask? This exercise enables you to get familiar with different vocabulary thus making your speaking much more advanced over time.
Our top picks for accessible dictionaries include:
Many find speaking difficult even when it’s in their own native language. Hence why so many people struggle to improve their speaking skills when it comes to new languages such as English. It’s especially hard to engage in a meaningful conversation when you are not even sure if the other party understands you. But thankfully there are ways to improve your English speaking more efficiently. The best way is to adjust your habits around the language. However, this adjustment takes time and effort. The habits described above will be difficult to implement at first but once you get used to them it will guarantee your improvement to your speaking ability.