How to Improve Speaking Skills

How to Improve Speaking

I’ve done episodes on Writing and Listening, and now I’m talking all about how you can improve your speaking skills in English.

Hopefully, this episode will give you all the tips you need to work on your speaking and there should be ideas for everyone here.

Paid Options

1-to-1 Lessons

Consider having individual lessons with an online teacher.

This is great because you don’t waste time and you can practise in any way you think would be useful. Another benefit is the professional feedback you can get from a teacher.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, italki is the best place to go to find online teachers.

Group Lessons

Group lessons are so much fun and a great way to practise!

One downside is that you get less talking time because there are more students, but I think the benefits far outweigh the downsides. 

You can practise listening to accents from all around the world, help each other learn from your mistakes, and they are just incredibly fun. Many of my students in group lessons have made friends and chat outside of the classes too.

The final big benefit is that they are cheaper!

Level 2 Members of Level Up English will get free access to monthly group lessons – another great reason to sign up.

"Free" Options

Finding a speaking partner is the best way to get free practice for speaking.

Ideally, you want to arrange a time to meet regularly and speak 50% English and 50% in your native language (the language they are learning).

I spoke about this in more detail in Episode 60 of the podcast.

It’s important to realise these aren’t exactly free. You’re not paying with money, but you’re paying with time. What is more important to you – money or time? Which one do you have more to spend?

Non-Native Speakers?

Many learners avoid non-native speakers when it comes to finding a language partner, but I think this can be a mistake

Non-native English speakers know exactly what you’re going through as an English learner and can understand the language more deeply than a native speaker (most native speakers don’t even know what the present perfect tense is, for example).

Even if you are at a similar level, you can fill in the gaps of each other’s learning and motivate each other.

Practising Alone

It’s hard to get so much time practising with others, but there are other ways you can speak even if you are alone.

Try talking to yourself and narrating your life.

Say to yourself “I am washing the dishes and putting this plate away in the cupboard…”

Pretend you have an imaginary friend and you have to explain to them everything you’re doing. When you can’t think of the right word to say, this is where a dictionary app on your phone can come in handy!

Summary

You have to practise speaking a lot more than you think, and probably more than you are at the moment.

You cannot become a fluent speaker if you only with study textbooks.

This may seem obvious to some people, but I didn’t realise this for the first 3 years of my language learning journey. 

Be willing to make mistakes and learn from them. Experiment with new structures and vocabulary and don’t be afraid to get outside of your comfort zone.

Have a good level of input (listening and reading) and output (speaking and writing) to learn most efficiently.

It’s also important to focus on collocations (phrases) rather than just individual words. Listen to episode 33 for more information about this.

Input and Output

Vocabulary

Some of the harder vocabulary I mentioned in this episode.

  • Plug – Talk about something (eg. a product) to promote it
  • Consolidate – To combine many things (eg. ideas) into one easy-to-understand point
  • To narrate – To voiceover something and describe what is happening

“If you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost” – Zig Ziglar

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