by Marc Anderson

8 Tips to Master Your Spoken English

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8 Tips to Practice Master Spoken English

Practice is the best of all instructors –Publilius Syrus, Latin writer and freed slave 1st century BC

Most of us know that if you want to be good at something you need to practice.

Well, awhile back I wrote an article about learning to master spoken English which really involves practice.  We at TalktoCanada.com continue to help students develop their English skills. These 8 tips that I share with my students and teachers will get you started on your way to acquiring the confidence and natural flow needed to speak effortlessly without having to remember all of those English rules.  It’s all about the way to practice.

P Prepare a list. Do you have some favorite words and phrases you often use in your native language? Take some time and think about this question throughout your day. It might help to write these words and phrases down in a notebook, and translate them into English. You can start small.  Begin to use 1-2 “new vocabulary” words/phrases throughout the day, every day, until they are committed to memory and you are able to use the vocabulary words naturally. Continue to use more of the “new vocabulary” as your ESL skills increase by reviewing your notebook each day. At the same time, add more words, phrases, and eventually sentences to your list when you think of them or when you are ready to expand your English vocabulary. You will be amazed at how your list is growing and how much English you actually know! By revisiting your list on a regular basis, you will also help build confidence as you can see how many new words/phrases/sentences you have mastered. This success will encourage you to keep learning and the positive cycle of English language learning will repeat over and over.  All of this will happen… because you took the time and effort to “prepare a list”.


R
Record yourself and Read aloud each day. Do you know what your voice sounds like in English?  Record yourself on your computer or another taping device, play back the recording and pay close attention to what you hear.  Listen closely to your pronunciation and tone of speech.  Are there areas you could improve?  Write these down and continue to work on them.  The importance of reading aloud from a magazine, newspaper or book in English each day helps develop your mouth muscles for speaking a new language. It also helps with acquiring more English skills.  Read for about 15-20 minutes a day and you will see how your fluency improves.

A Avoid using idioms and slang. Although idioms and slang expressions are common in the English language, they are not important to use until you have a firm grasp with the English language. Your first priority is to concentrate on listening and learning to speak English. Then you will understand more of these informal words and phrases that are so prevalent in the English language.  Listening will bring understanding of what these words actually mean and in what situations they are best used.  Eventually, you can practice where and when to say these idioms and slang expressions.  So don’t use them until you are ready.  Then you can begin to incorporate some of these new words and sayings into your everyday speech. Just turn your back on them, hang in there, and deal with idioms and slang at a later date.

C Check your accent. Everyone has an accent of some sort. It is the manner of how you pronounce words and sentences with the loudness of pitch, length you hold a certain sound or a combination of these two things.  You will probably bring some of your native accent into the English words.  To avoid this as much as possible and to have close-sounding English words, observe how people speaking English move their mouths to say the sounds and words.  Try to imitate this.  Often it is helpful to speak simultaneously with a speaker on a tape.  This could be anything you have taped from the television or radio, or a story read by a native speaker.  Repeat sections of the tape over and over again until you have reached success.  Then you can add longer sections.  Remember that all accents change over time.  They are not fixed especially when we move to a new place, mix with different people or develop new aspirations.  Another suggestion is to record your voice from time to time so you can listen for that accent and work on those precise sounds and words. Attack one area at a time and you will soon be speaking like a pro.

T Talk slowly. You probably talk much faster in your native tongue than you do in English. Right?  It is very natural to speak in your native tongue so you don’t pay much attention to word choice, grammar, etc.  When speaking in English, feel free to slow down.  There is no need to hurry.  It will be easier for you to speak if you don’t feel rushed.  The most important part of speaking is communicating and having the listener know what you are saying.  So just talk slowly.  Speed will come in time when you have acquired more English skills. And when others understand what you have to say, this alone will help increase your confidence in speaking even more English.  And the more you are comfortable speaking, the faster you inevitably will speak.

I Interact after listening to others and listen to audio books. If you think of how anyone learns a language, you will credit the value in listening.  Listening is the way everyone learns to speak a language.  So listen all the time.  Find ways to listen to others speaking.  Listen when you do errands at the store, post office, library and bank.  Listen on the way to school or work.  Listen to the radio or to audio books.  You can download audio books from many sites on the internet or from the bookstore and play these on your iPod.  There are literally hundreds of thousands to choose from.  Combine these books with listening to music, videos and television shows.  Surrounding yourself with spoken English will undoubtedly help your own spoken English. It will help you think in English and to speak more easily.


C Collect a word a day. Did you ever stop to think how many words you know in the English vocabulary?  The more words you know, the easier it is for you to select words to use.  Each day, look up one English word (begin with the letter A in the dictionary), write the word down on a notecard, and carry it with you for the day. Try to use this word as much as possible so you commit it to memory.  The next day, pick a new word starting with the letter B, and so on.  In the course of a month, you will have worked yourself through the alphabet and you can start over.  Did you ever think that you could learn 365 words a year so easily?  With slightly over a million words to choose from and with estimates of 8500 new English words added each year, you’ll have great variety to pick from.

E Empower yourself and reduce your fears. Remember to think confidently.  Everyone makes mistakes when you learn something new. So put that thought aside.  Who cares if you make mistakes? Some of you might worry about sounding stupid, saying something when you mean something else, and even wondering if people will be able to understand what is said.  But remember, it is far better to try than not to try at all.  This statement is nothing new but it conveys a lot of wisdom. One of Albert Einstein’s favorite quotes describes the value of mistakes in that …a person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. So keep trying, and each step of the way you will feel more empowered to try harder and your fears of speaking and learning a new language will eventually disappear completely!

P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E There you have it…8 tips on how to practice and to be well on your way to master spoken English.  As Napolean Hill, a 20th century American author is cited in one of his hallmark expressions:  You are the master of your destiny.  You can influence, direct and control your life. You can make your life what you want it to be.  Start by conceiving and believing, and then you will achieve! Do write and let me know about any of these 8 tips and how they have worked for you and what you have achieved.  Do you have any tips of your own to share? And remember, like anything else, practice leads to mastery.

About the author:

Marc Anderson is the co-founder and CEO of TalktoCanada. Since founding the company in 2006, he has grown it to over 25 staff with operations in 50 countries. Marc spends his time outside of TalktoCanada travelling, playing with his son and working on new business projects.

  • Hassan

    Great tips Marc, but I have a question which is, since i don’t have someone to practice English with, can extensive reading and listening do much and improve my spoken English?
    Another thing, does speaking to myself really help or this is just a silly advice people keep telling us?

    Many thanks for the tips.

    Hassan,

    • http://www.talktocanada.com/ Marc Anderson

      Thanks for the great question Hassan.

      All of these skills including reading, listening and talking to yourself will help you improve. If you never practice reading English or any language, you’ll never become a good reader. If you never practice listening, how can you talk to another English speaker?

      All of the tips in the list are important, but you need to decide what you have time to focus on and what you enjoy doing. If you don’t like speaking to yourself, don’t do it. Personally speaking, I’m studying Arabic and I definitely take the time to speak the language out loud by myself. I may not record myself talking but I do need to practice difficult sounds and words so that I can improve.

      Learning a language takes a lot of time and effort and very rarely can you just focus on one specific skill in English (i.e. listening, reading, writing, talking) and become fully fluent in that language. To be fully fluent in a language you need to do a lot of different activities in order to achieve success (like those listed above).

      Please visit this other blog post that might help you by giving additional ideas for ways to improve your English. While I can’t promise that they’ll all work for you, some might be great ideas for you :)

      http://www.talktocanada.com/blog/100-amazing-suggestions-to-english-perfection/

      • Hassan

        Hi Marc,
        Thanks for the wonderful reply.

        I’m doing a lot of reading and I enjoy it so much, to be honest, since i begun doing it I experinced tremendous improvements in my skills except my speaking, and it frustrates me.

        Anyways, I read your lines carefully, and i’ll definitely visit the blog you’ve given me. It seems that I should double my effort, expand the learning area and have fun.

        All the best in your Arabic learning, if you need any help I’m here (it is my native tongue).

        • http://www.talktocanada.com/ Marc Anderson

          What is your reading level? I read almost a book a week, so I can recommend some really great ones.

  • Hassan

    Great tips Marc, but I have a question which is, since i don’t have someone to practice English with, can extensive reading and listening do much and improve my spoken English?
    Another thing, does speaking to myself really help or this is just a silly advice people keep telling us?

    Many thanks for the tips.

    Hassan,

    • http://www.talktocanada.com/ Marc Anderson

      Thanks for the great question Hassan.

      All of these skills including reading, listening and talking to yourself will help you improve. If you never practice reading English or any language, you’ll never become a good reader. If you never practice listening, how can you talk to another English speaker?

      All of the tips in the list are important, but you need to decide what you have time to focus on and what you enjoy doing. If you don’t like speaking to yourself, don’t do it. Personally speaking, I’m studying Arabic and I definitely take the time to speak the language out loud by myself. I may not record myself talking but I do need to practice difficult sounds and words so that I can improve.

      Learning a language takes a lot of time and effort and very rarely can you just focus on one specific skill in English (i.e. listening, reading, writing, talking) and become fully fluent in that language. To be fully fluent in a language you need to do a lot of different activities in order to achieve success (like those listed above).

      Please visit this other blog post that might help you by giving additional ideas for ways to improve your English. While I can’t promise that they’ll all work for you, some might be great ideas for you :)

      http://www.talktocanada.com/blog/100-amazing-suggestions-to-english-perfection/

      • Hassan

        Hi Marc,
        Thanks for the wonderful reply.

        I’m doing a lot of reading and I enjoy it so much, to be honest, since i begun doing it I experinced tremendous improvements in my skills except my speaking, and it frustrates me.

        Anyways, I read your lines carefully, and i’ll definitely visit the blog you’ve given me. It seems that I should double my effort, expand the learning area and have fun.

        All the best in your Arabic learning, if you need any help I’m here (it is my native tongue).

        • http://www.talktocanada.com/ Marc Anderson

          What is your reading level? I read almost a book a week, so I can recommend some really great ones.

          • Rangana seram

            really i got a big motivation reading this blog about spoken english….. thank you very much

  • Laura Butler

    This is a fantastic blog post! It’s very thorough!

    The blog post already touched on this, but in order to help you speak, listen to as many different sources as you can: radio, news, movies, TV shows, podcasts, English teachers/professors on Youtube — the opportunities to hear spoken English are endless. When you find something you really enjoy, try to listen to it a couple times – challenge yourself to repeat interesting words and phrases. Write any down that you hear and don’t understand so you can look them up later! Most of all, have FUN! :-)

    • http://www.talktocanada.com/ Marc Anderson

      Thanks for the comment Laura. I agree, it’s important to listen to lots of difference sources in English.

  • Laura Butler

    This is a fantastic blog post! It’s very thorough!

    The blog post already touched on this, but in order to help you speak, listen to as many different sources as you can: radio, news, movies, TV shows, podcasts, English teachers/professors on Youtube — the opportunities to hear spoken English are endless. When you find something you really enjoy, try to listen to it a couple times – challenge yourself to repeat interesting words and phrases. Write any down that you hear and don’t understand so you can look them up later! Most of all, have FUN! :-)

    • http://www.talktocanada.com/ Marc Anderson

      Thanks for the comment Laura. I agree, it’s important to listen to lots of difference sources in English.

  • Alok kumar

    its really helpful tips. amazing will try to follow these all are steps.

    Thnaks

  • kostas

    Excellent article. I find very useful your tips. I believe it is necessary to work hard to learn english. Everyone should study every day. Also i think it is necessary to do some excersises from variety english books. http://www.spokenenglishbooks.com

  • radhika

    thank you so much sir for give 8 helpful. i will follow these tips

  • chuong

    thank you very much yours post. it will help me to improve my english. so can you show me the best course to listen.

  • Kamile Ko

    These tips are useless if you do not have normal language background. It is important to have explained rules and most important words, in another case you will not learn language by yourself. I tried many times, but until I haven’t tried to go here- (link moderated) I couldn’t learn english normaly. Now you see how easily I can speak

    • http://www.talktocanada.com/ Marc Anderson

      Thanks for your comment Kamile. I’m sorry you didn’t find any of these tips useful to you. To call these tips useless, you’re doing a disservice to our readers who do actually get value out of these 8 tips even though you don’t.

      What tips do you have to ‘master your spoken English’ that would be useful to our readers?

      If you have *specific* links to help our visitors to this blog improve their English, please let us know.

  • Zoya Jaffar

    Great blog indeed! I’ll definitely follow these tips! I want to share my problems,
    1. Whenever I write something in English for example any essay or a story in an exam or a quiz, I have a good collection of words in my mind to embellish my writing piece, but whenever I’ speaking English, I didn’t find good vocabulary :( ..
    2. Also when I communicate I’m accustomed of speaking English fastly then I loses my fluency level abruptly :(
    3. My listening skills to typical British,American accent are not very fine :(
    4.Recommend to me, something good for reading, I can’t read a whole book or novel in a week as I’ve a busy routine and university studies too

    Reply :)

  • 8099037369Hari Krishna

    how to read good english

  • http://www.clippingpathindia.com/photoshop-retouching.html Shumi

    Reading English newspaper and story books help a lot to learn the structure of sentence. And finally reading them loudly helps me in speaking.

    • http://www.talktocanada.com/ Marc Anderson

      Hello Shumi,

      Thanks for sharing what works for you as an English language learner. Best wishes from Canada.

  • Shampa Thakur

    Reading is good “Passive” way of improving vocabulary, but when you are resorting to making lists, that is “Active” method. Problem with active method of learning words is that it is cumbersome and boring, and you doing retain and unless you use it in writing sentences to apply the word, very little chance is that you increase your lexical size.
    Improve Your Vocabulary – VocabMonk is an active learning tool which is personalized and makes sure you grasp the learnt words by applying it. It is lot of fun too as you can play vocab challenges with your friends.
    Give it a shot!

    • http://www.talktocanada.com/ Marc Anderson

      Hi Shampa,

      Thanks for the tip, while I partially agree with your statement about reading and making lists, it’s still useful and potentially very useful for *some* people but like any tip to learn English including yours, it’s just a suggestion that may or may not be applicable to that particular person reading it.

      Also, the link to the VocabMonk can be found here – https://vocabmonk.com

      I haven’t personally tried it, so if any of our readers try it can you please tell us your thoughts.

      Marc

      • Shampa Thakur

        Thanks Marc Anderson for your feedback.