How to Improve Your English Speaking Skills Quickly

3 people talking

How to Improve your English Speaking Skills Quickly

Whether you are learning English for business or social purposes (or both), these are some of the most commonly asked questions in terms of studying the language:

‘How can I learn to speak better English?’

‘How can I improve my speaking in English?’

‘How can I speak English more fluently and confidently?’

These are excellent questions to ask. It should be the ultimate aim of all trainees to want to improve their speaking skills in English. Here are some practical tips to help you to achieve this ambition:

Speak English to improve

This may sound like an obvious suggestion, but the most important thing to do is speak the language.

Don’t be afraid to speak. Fear is the single most important factor stopping you from speaking in English and practising all those things you have learned.

So, take the opportunity to speak with anyone, and speak with everyone, whether that is face-to-face or online. Everything helps.

Don’t focus on your mistakes

It is the fear of making a mistake often keeps people silent. And it is an unnecessary fear, although you cannot help how you feel.

However, remember that making mistakes can be a good thing. Making mistakes is how we learn everything.

English speaking skills

If you can cook, I’m sure you didn’t make the perfect dish the first time. If you play sport, you will remember the early days when you were not as effective. And certainly, in your job, there was a time when you were new and inexperienced. It’s important to remember that every learning process is a journey.

So, make mistakes: it’s all part of the process. Just remember to learn from those mistakes.

Ask the people around you to correct you 

People will not correct your English unless you ask them to. The belief is that it is impolite to correct someone, especially when you are probably doing a really good job anyway. (Most English speakers are ineffective at speaking other languages, so will not want to judge your ability to speak in another language!)

But if you ask colleagues and friends to help by pointing out when you have made a mistake, and by giving you the correct way to say it, you will soon find yourself well on your way to speaking fluently in English.

Record yourself speaking to improve your English

Every smartphone has an incredibly useful feature for when you are learning to speak another language: the ‘record’ feature.

Now, no one particularly enjoys listening to themselves speak, but this is an incredibly useful activity for you to follow in order to understand better how you pronounce your words, as well as to identify the rhythm of your sentences.

Compare what you are saying to the correct pronunciation of words, and to the rhythm of native speakers. You don’t need to sound exactly like a native speaker, that’s unrealistic, but you can always improve through comparison and imitation.

Cross-train (improving your listening, reading and writing will improve your speaking ability)

‘I want to talk in English fluently and confidently, so why am I practising my reading and writing skills?’

I have paraphrased a question that trainees often ask. Sometimes the value is not seen in practising those other language skills. But everything is connected, and cross-training is the process of improving one skill indirectly through improvement in the others.

In particular, give time to activities that focus on two skills at the same time. For example, watching a movie while reading the subtitles: you are listening and reading at the same time, which means two key skills are being developed.

Those who have the ability to listen well, in particular, will soon become proficient in speaking. So, don’t neglect those other skills: everything is related when it comes to language.

Speak about everything to improve your English

When seeking to improve at anything, you must take yourself out of your comfort zone. So that means speaking about subjects that you don’t normally cover in English.

improve English speaking

For example, your English connected to your specific business areas may be quite proficient, but the difficulty will arise when you exit your ‘subject comfort zone’. Practising speaking about other the activities of other business units within your organisation is a good idea here.

And then practically speaking, you might be okay ordering a coffee in a café, but what about explaining how to cook your favourite dish?

In terms of discussion, how about an interesting debate on the future of robots? Or the benefits of space travel? Not easy topics in any language.

Speak about subjects that really challenge you to take your English to the next level.

But also speak particularly about the things you enjoy

An anecdote. I had a trainee who, for one reason or another, disliked learning English. Perhaps it was a result of the way he was taught at school: boring grammar exercises that really didn’t motivate him.

But this same trainee was passionate about his business, and also loved football (soccer). So, in our 1-2-1 classes, all we spoke about was these two subjects. And it’s amazing how one topic can translate to another.

In terms of football, we spoke about previous results (past) the best players (present), the form of the players and teams (present continuous) and made our predictions for future results (future).

You may wonder how this relates to business activities. And of course, the vocabulary, mostly, was irrelevant.

However, we spoke using every possible verb tense and worked on his fluency almost without him even realising that he was improving his English. Because he was enjoying talking about a subject he was passionate about, gaining confidence in his English along the way.

That is a transferable skill whatever way you look at it. So, when practising, speak about what you love, but in English. The benefits will easily project to other areas.

Play games (any games) in English to develop your subconscious language appreciation

Repetitive games are addictive. And when we stop playing, we continue thinking about them. That’s not always a good thing, of course, and too many games may not be good for you.

However, spending a bit of time on simple vocabulary, pronunciation, or even strategy games in English will help push the language deeper into your subconscious. Before long you will start thinking in the language, and that is great for your oral skills: the ability to speak English fluently and confidently is now closer than before.

So, whether you are improving your English primarily for business or for social reasons, you can see that everything you practise does transfer. Make sure you are trying the suggestions above to help quickly develop your speaking skills in English.

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