Ever Wondered How Best to Improve Your Spoken English?

17/06/2020 Carol

How Best to Improve Your Spoken English

Here are some tips to improve your spoken English.

I give you these tips and things I have discovered over the past years of working with students online, from diverse backgrounds, ages and countries. In my experience I have found that listening and speaking seem to exist in a kind of “parallel” universe to grammar. Most students struggle to find a way to cross this great divide. How can the two “marry” when there is such a chasm between them? Read more to find out.

Deep

I have found that the way to bridge the chasm, to improve, is through regular speaking. The way to bring the universes together is through immersion in speaking and listening activities. It is important also to listen actively when spoken to, to listen to the sound and rhythm of the language. Many students focus on individual words, rather than whole sentences and the meaning of the whole. The world of grammar helps to clarify questions and is best in a supportive role in the context of speaking and listening. As you begin to speak and get comfortable with the language, your confidence grows and you start to be able to apply what you have learnt all those years during your grammar lessons.

The grind of learning grammar and rules can wear you down, until you feel a lack of motivation to improve. Get a “feel” for the language, the words, and their sounds. Let the language “speak”! This can excite you to enjoy the language. By speaking you are exposed to the target language. In this way you are exposed to new items and structures that you can use. When talking to other people, the psychological processes involved in retrieving information and creating sentences become more automatised.

Chat

It seems that when conversing, learners become more aware of gaps between what they can do, and what they are not yet able to do. This appears to help students with Noticing, which is a requirement for learning.  Here is an example from the British Council:

A learner might make an error in the use of a preposition, but ‘notice’ its correct use by another learner, or in an authentic text. This might allow them to begin to use it correctly.”

Another tip is to combine your senses: by using different types of input to help create a more learning environment, for example, reading and listening to a text at the same time can help you improve your comprehension. For TV shows and movies, turn on subtitles in the same language. Other options suggested by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill include:

  • “Amazon’s Kindle offers an ‘immersive reading’ option that syncs audio books with text.
  • TED talks come in many different languages, and often include an interactive transcript.”
  • The ESL Bits website has some great resources that link reading and listening, and there are adjustable audio speeds too!”

Focus on reading, speaking and listening content that interests you, things that come naturally, things that you love. Speak, speak and speak with a native speaker!

Relax