A question I get asked a lot is, “How do I get better at speaking in English?”. In this post, I will talk about creating a self study schedule, finding an online language partner, English clubs and more.
It’s really important to say English words, sentences and have conversations in English often. You can do this alone in your bedroom, kitchen or even the bathroom. 🙂 Use the mirror to become more comfortable speaking. Try it at home or at work. You can speak to family, friends, classmates or coworkers. They don’t have to speak English. What’s important is that you are speaking in English. Pronounce words slowly to get the pronunciation right. Once you have the correct pronunciation, say the words at normal speed.
You have to dedicate time to practice speaking English. You should create a self study schedule. This is a schedule that you follow for learning at home. For example, you can practice speaking for one hour every week. Every Sunday afternoon perhaps. Start with an hour a week and then add more time to your schedule.
You can practice speaking alone or with a language partner. A language partner is someone you practice speaking English with. Ideally, this person is a native English speaker. If might be difficult to find a native English speaker to speak with in-person where you live. You can find someone online. You can chat with your partner via instant message, voice chat and video chat. There are free websites (see below for a list) where you can find a language partner. You create a profile (similar to Facebook). Then you send a message to someone to talk to them.
Your first message could be one of these:
- “Hi. How are you?”
- “Can I practice English with you?”
- “How’s your day going?”
Where to find a language partner:
- My Language Exchange
- How do you do?
- Hope Speak
- English, baby!
- Word Perfect English
- Hello Talk
When you find a language partner, set up a time to meet with them regularly. For example, once every week. Consistency (doing it often) is very important to get better at speaking in English.
Going to an English club is a great way to get better at speaking. You shouldn’t just go to an English club every 6 months. You should go at least twice a month. Ideally once a week. The more the better. You’ll get better at speaking and you’ll improve your self-confidence. Many of my students know the right word or grammar to use in English. But they’re too shy to speak to someone in English. To become more self-confident (and less shy), you have to do things that make you feel a little uncomfortable or nervous. The more you do those things, the more comfortable you’ll be doing them. If you live in Vinh City or Ha Tinh, you can try one of these English clubs. I started an English club. It’s called Hello! English Club. We meet every Tuesday morning at Sonata Cafe in Vinh City, Vietnam. Go to the website for more information, pictures and videos of the meetings.
Here are some more tips to get better at speaking in English:
- Schedule time to meet with your classmates and have a discussion in English (topic ideas: what you’re learning, current events, hobbies, sports, movies, etc).
- Speak new words slowly at first. Learn how to divide words up into syllables.
- Talk to your friends in English instead of your native language.
- Watch a video on FluentU with English subtitles, click on the word to hear the correct pronunciation, practice speaking that new word many times.
- Practice pronouncing new words in front of a mirror.
- Listening to English songs (and singing along) and podcasts is a good way to get used to how people speak in English.
- Have “shower conversations”. Watch this video for how to do this:
Here are some posts that can help you:
“Read Aloud – When you’re reading a novel or an article in the newspaper in English, read aloud instead of to yourself silently. Although, not the same as spontaneous natural conversation, it can be a very powerful tool to practice pronunciation and fluency.”
“Learn Words in Phrases and Chunks – It is important that you learn words in groups. For example, you refer to beverages as a glass of wine, a pint of beer, a cup of tea, a pot of coffee, etc. It is better to learn those phrases than merely wine, beer, tea and so on.”
“Ask Effective Questions – To keep a conversation going, you can’t be the only one talking. You need to ask good questions to get the other person talking. It takes some discretion to ask good questions, you don’t want the other person to think you’re being nosy or trying to get gossip.”
“Focus on a bit of language that interests you, practice until you know it, and then use it until you own it.”
“Talk/chat with people who are good in English and be open to the corrections they make when your English is wrong.”
Some more helpful posts:
- How to use Google to get better at speaking
- 7 common English pronunciation mistakes of Vietnamese speakers (Part 1)
- Want to Practice Speaking English with a Native Speaker? Go Online!
- 10 Simple Strategies to Learn Perfect English Pronunciation
- 33 ways to speak better English without taking classes
Each week I collect helpful links for English students. The posts are called “Helpful English Links for Students”. Go here to see the most recent collection.
Bonus Post – I wrote about some ways to get better at listening in English.
Bonus Video – How to greet people like a native English speaker.