learn to speak in English freely and competently: 16 Simple Tips
How to learn to speak English quickly and competently? This question is asked every day by millions of students around the world, for whom facing a language barrier has become an unpleasant stage in language learning. However, any obstacle can be overcome, the main thing is to choose the right means to achieve goals.
We’ve put together some of the easiest and most effective tips to help you improve your spoken English and achieve your fluency in communication.
Speaking is the most important skill in learning any foreign language. Some students admit that they easily master grammar, read foreign literature with pleasure, and calmly listen to audio recordings.
But when it comes to speaking in English, they fall into a state of “I understand everything, but I can’t answer anything.” And this often happens not from a lack of knowledge or limited vocabulary, but due to a lack of speaking practice and a psychological barrier.
We talked about the psychological reasons for the appearance of a language barrier and 15 effective ways to deal with it in another article. We would like to suggest you not to delve into the details of the emergence of the barrier, but to direct all efforts to remove it.
Read this story.
What prevents you from speaking English
Let’s take a look at not psychological, but linguistic reasons that may stand between you and fruitful communication in English.
Insufficient language proficiency
The vocabulary of native speakers is 10,000 – 20,000 words. For everyone who learns English, 2,000 words are enough for comfortable communication on everyday topics, which corresponds to the Pre-Intermediate level. As you can see, everything is not so scary!
To start speaking, you must master the minimum grammar:
present – Present (Simple, Continuous, Perfect);
past tense – Past Simple;
future tense: Future Simple and be going to construction;
modal verbs: have to, must, can, may, might, should;
If your knowledge of English is at the Elementary or Beginner level, you need to improve them to Pre-Intermediate. If you have already overcome this bar, then you are ready to communicate in English. Yes, such conversations will not be ideal and easy, but you can definitely express your thoughts in accessible ways.
Nothing to say on the topic
If it seems to you that you don’t know what to talk about at all, start by developing your Russian speech. Take any object or phenomenon. Think about what thoughts and emotions you have in relation to him. Try to find several subtopics in this broad topic. Then talk about the subject or phenomenon for at least one or two minutes. Exhale. Try the same thing in English.
For example, take the theme “Vacation”. She finds her response in each of us. Some travel to the same beloved country every year, while others appreciate diversity and contrast. Some put off for repairs and rarely allow themselves tourist trips, others cannot live without constant adventures. What can you tell us about your vacation?
Structure of the answer to oral questions
We have analyzed the monologue. But what about the dialogue? Let’s pretend you’re being asked a common question. For example:
What is your favorite kind of food? – What is your favorite food?
If panic arises in your head and gastronomic variety creates complete chaos, do not rush. The fate of humanity does not depend on your answer now. Think calmly and only then speak according to an approximate scheme:
It’s difficult to choose because I like many different dishes. – It is difficult to choose because I like many dishes.
I think pasta with meatballs is my favorite. – I think pasta with meatballs is my favorite dish.
Reason / Example:
My wife cooks it very well. And I also like to order this meal at a restaurant. It is so delicious. – My wife cooks it amazingly. And I also enjoy ordering this dish at the restaurant. It’s so delicious.
Well, if I had to choose just one, I would definitely prefer pasta with meatballs. “Well, if I had only one to choose, I’d prefer pasta with meatballs.
By practicing answering questions in this way, you can get rid of the “I have nothing to say” problem.
We have examined the reasons that interfere with conversational speech. Now let’s get down to practice. Are you preparing for negotiations, presentations or other communication at work? Most likely, you are now nodding in the affirmative. So it is with a conversation in English: you also need to carefully prepare for it. But not everyone has time for this. If you need to speak English confidently “already yesterday”, we have a solution.
- Learn new words
learning new words The more words you know, the more conversational topics are available to you, and the more accurately you can express your thoughts. Therefore, if you are carried away by speaking practice, do not forget about replenishing your vocabulary. We wrote about how to do this in the article
- We make our speech lively and natural
To make your speech beautiful and natural, while learning a new word, look in the dictionary, where its synonyms and antonyms, as well as associated phrasal verbs and idioms, are indicated. Our article “How to choose a good dictionary of the English language” will help you to determine the optimal dictionary. This will diversify your speech and increase your vocabulary.
- Learn phrases
If you ask modern polyglots how to learn to speak English quickly, many of them will answer the same way: “Learn cliché phrases and speech constructions.” Expressions such as Let’s talk briefly about … (Let’s talk briefly about …), I am inclined to believe that … (I tend to think that …), I’ve got an impression that .. . (I have the impression that …) will help you start a conversation competently and beautifully.
learn phrases but what if you didn’t understand well what you were told? You need to learn how to catch keywords in the statement. Pay special attention to nouns and verbs, because they are the main words in any sentence. The rest will become clear from the general context of the statement, intonation, emotions, facial expressions, and gestures of the speaker. Practice listening more often and get used to the sound of someone else’s speech. In the meantime, you can ask the other person to repeat:
- Activating vocabulary
Active vocabulary – those words that you use in speech or writing, passive – you recognize in someone else’s speech or when reading, but do not use yourself. The more active vocabulary you have, the more ways you can express yourself, and the easier it is for you to express yourself in English. Work on expanding it: learn new words and bring them into your speech. In the article “How to activate the passive vocabulary of the English language” we told how to turn a passive vocabulary into an active one.
- Learning periphery
If you are afraid that during a conversation you may forget a word, then do not worry, because you can learn periphery – an indirect, descriptive designation of an object. And in order for you to be able to paraphrase, we will give some tips.
If you forget a difficult word, use a simpler one: a department store – a supermarket (department store).
Use that, which, who to describe an object or object:
It’s a very large shop that sells food and other products for the home. – This is a large store that sells food and other products for the home.
Use antonyms and comparisons:
It is opposite to a neighborhood shop. = It’s not a neighborhood shop. “It is the opposite of a convenience store.
“Sainsbury’s” and “Tesco” are examples of best supermarkets. – Sainsbury’s and Tesco are examples of the best supermarkets.
- Learning to ask questions
The strategy for any successful conversation is to talk less about yourself and be more interested in other people’s opinions. To do this, you need to master the structure of the basic types of questions. For example, a person tells you that they love to decorate their apartment.
I like decorating my flat. – I like to decorate the apartment.
Think about what questions you could ask this person?
What materials do you like the most? – What materials do you like the most?
Did you learn something about decor? – Did you study something about decor?
Could you please show me your best work? – Will you show your best work?
Would you like to take part in some decorators contest? – Would you like to take part in the decorator’s competition?
- We use a special textbook
Speaking development manuals are a great help for every English learner. They give you topics of conversation, interesting ideas and expressions, and new phrases that can be used successfully in any conversation. To find the textbook that’s right for you, check out our 6 Good English Speaking Skill Guides review.
- Improving pronunciation
Improving your pronunciation Work on your pronunciation: If you mix up sounds or pronounce them indistinctly, the likelihood that you will be understood is significantly reduced. Do you want to speak correctly? Imitate the speech of people who speak clearly and distinctly. You can imitate your English teacher, BBC announcer, favorite actor, or English-speaking friend if you have one. When you learn to pronounce sounds clearly, you will pass the fear of being misunderstood and you will not feel embarrassed by your accent. We have written even more tips in the article “How to improve your pronunciation in English”.
- Doing modern listening
English listening doesn’t have to be monotonous or intimidating. You can train your listening comprehension through modern podcasts, audio series, and radio shows. Some of them are adapted for teaching, others contain useful conversational phrases from the real live speech of native speakers.
Even if you have little free time for study, you can install applications with podcasts, radio programs and audio dramas on your smartphone. Listen to them on the way to work, during your lunch break, on the road, while shopping, etc. We recommend listening to the same recording several times. If possible, you can repeat after the announcer. This simple technique will improve your listening skills. You can read more about this in the article Modern English Listening: Podcasts, Audio Series, Radio Shows.
- Watching videos
How to quickly learn to speak English using video? Watch videos of the topics you are interested in, listen to how and what native speakers say and repeat after them. So you will not only master colloquial phrases, but you can also learn the correct articulation by imitating the characters in the video. Many videos for people with different levels of language proficiency can be viewed on the resources: engvid.com, newsinlevels.com, englishcentral.com.
One of the best resources you probably know is a portal of educational videos from some of the best TED speakers in the world. We suggest using our article “Learning English with TED” as a guide. And if you want to watch English-language movies in the original, we recommend reading the article “Learning English from films and TV shows: 11 best techniques.”
- Sing songs
Your favorite songs in English can help you improve your speaking skills. Open the lyrics of a song you like and include it in your recordings. Listen to the performer and repeat the text after him. Try to keep up with the pace of the soloist’s speech and at the same time pronounce the words as clearly as possible. Read more about the approach in the article “Songs in English lessons: the experience of our teachers.”
- We read aloud and retell what we read
Reading aloud works similarly to listening to video and audio, only here you read the text yourself and retell what you read. As a result, new words and phrases are memorized. In the article “What books to read in English and how to do it correctly”, we covered in detail the choice of the right books for your level.
- Recording your voice
Pick a common topic, such as a story about your favorite book. Turn on the voice recorder on your smartphone or laptop and record your voice. Then turn on the recording and listen to it carefully. Pay attention to when you have a hitch, where you drag out the pause, how fast you speak, good pronunciation, and correct intonation.
Usually, the first notes for English learners are not a test for the faint of heart: firstly, we are not used to hearing ourselves from the outside, and secondly, the English language speech at the first stages of learning sounds strange and incomprehensible. We recommend that you do not despair. Imagine that this is not your voice, but some outside student who really wants to learn English. What would you advise him to work on? In a month or two, compare the first and last entries: the difference will be noticeable, and this will inspire you to further exploits in learning English.
- We speak as often as possible
Do you dream to speak English in your free time, but your friends are not interested? Try participating in conversation clubs with other English learners. Such meetings are held both live and online. This is a great opportunity to start talking and get used to someone else’s speech. In a relaxed atmosphere, you can chat on different topics, if necessary, screw-in interesting words and phrases that you heard somewhere, and just have a good time.
In our school, all students can sign up for free conversation clubs with both Russian-speaking teachers and native speakers from the UK. Clubs can be selected to suit your level and in accordance with interesting topics: sightseeing, art, friends and loved ones, a sense of humor – the list is inexhaustible. A big advantage – you will study in small groups of up to 7 people. If you do not study ats, but want to communicate in English, sign up for our paid conversation clubs.
The more you communicate in English, the sooner you will achieve fluency. And to make it easy for you to find an interlocutor, we wrote an article “Where can you talk in English.” From it you will learn how easy it is to find a friend among native speakers.
- Find a partner
Have you bought a membership to a fitness club but dropped out of sports after a couple of months? Have you decided to master the guitar, but the enthusiasm faded and you switched to something new? Perhaps you just lack motivation and support. You need someone who will support the drive to learn English. Try to find yourself a friend who will go to courses and conversation clubs with you, communicate on different topics, and in every possible way motivate you to continue learning.
- We do not theorize
Practice, practice, and only practice of speaking will bring the desired results. Theory alone will not be enough: no matter how much you read useful tips on how to start speaking English, the language will not be given to you until you start putting all the tips into practice. You yourself know that. Whatever you undertake, be it driving, cooking, or yoga in hammocks, without practice, theoretical manuals will become waste paper.
Today you received an action guide on how to learn to speak English. We hope that you will not only carefully read our tips, but also begin to apply them in practice.