One of the most common questions I am asked by learners is, “How can I practise my speaking skills?”
Speaking is the area of language that people tend to want to improve the most. With writing, you have time to think, prepare and proofread for mistakes. In speaking you have none of this, plus the added factor of actually having a social interaction, which can cause more stress.
It is particularly hard to practise your speaking skills if you don’t live in an English-speaking country, but even if you do, it can be hard to find people to practise with. This is especially true if you’re working in an environment where your first language is spoken.
So here are 11 creative ways to practise your speaking skills:
If you have no one to practise speaking with then speak to yourself!
Just the process of putting your thoughts into words is excellent practice, which will help you to prepare when you actually have to speak to people! You can practise talks, presentations, or have conversations with yourself. I’d also recommend looking in the mirror when you speak to help you feel you are having a conversation, so you can notice your facial expressions and mouth position as you speak.
2. Record yourself
Whether you’re speaking to yourself or having a conversation with a friend, record yourself. Being able to listen to yourself speaking and noticing what you do well and areas you can improve, will help you stay focused and move your speaking skills forward.
3. Set English time
Set a time once a day or once a week to only speak English with your family. No matter everyone’s level, just going through the process of putting your words into thoughts can help you to move your skills forward. It also gives you the opportunity to spend quality time with your family and help each other. It’s good to set English time every week so it becomes part of your routine. One way is to only speak English when you’re having dinner on a Thursday, for example.
4. Speak to Alexa or Siri
First, make sure the voice recognition tool is set to English! It can be a great test of your English to try and get Alexa to understand your instructions. Not only will it test your vocabulary and make sure you have a clear sentence structure, but it is also a great way to make sure your pronunciation is clear too.
5. Read along with movie subtitles
Next time you are watching a movie or TV series in English, set the subtitles to English and read along. This is a great way of practising saying English out loud and you can follow the rhythm and patterns of the speakers on screen.
6. Find a speaker to imitate
Find an English speaker you enjoy listening to. This could be a podcast host, a TED talk speaker or even your favourite TV character. Once you’ve listened for enjoyment, take some time to practise the imitation technique. Play 1 or 2 sentences of the recording and pause, then copy what they say. Follow the pronunciation and intonation patterns of their speech. This technique can really help to improve your pronunciation and help you to speak with a more natural rhythm. Record yourself and compare to the original to notice areas you can improve.
7. Do karaoke
I love doing Karaoke, and it’s a fantastic way to practise your speaking skills. If you don’t have a place to do karaoke near you, search for your favourite song on YouTube, and ‘with Lyrics’ to practise singing along. The melody of English songs follow English stress and rhythm patterns, so it can be a great way to improve pronunciation. It’s great fun too!
8. Speak to your friends via Whatsapp
Whatsapp is a fantastic tool for staying in touch friends, but it can also be a great way to practise your English. You can send video messages or voice recordings in English instead of your first language. Nowadays, there are also lots of Whatsapp groups run by teachers, where you can learn tips and practise your skills.
9. Find a language buddy
A language buddy is someone, who also wants to improve their English, who you can practise speaking with. By meeting to speak regularly, you create a habit. When you have someone to keep you accountable, it can really help you to stay on track. This language buddy could be a friend, or there are websites (such as the workaway website) where you can meet other language learners to practise with.
10. Find a language exchange partner
This is someone whose first language is English and wants to practise your first language. When you meet you can spend some time speaking English, and some time speaking your first language to help each other improve. Here is an example of a website where you can find a language exchange partner
11. Join a Meet Up group
Meetup.com is an international website where you can find groups of people with similar interests to you. There are several in the UK, and I have joined meetups in Bangkok and Tokyo. When you join a group based on your interest, it can help to build your confidence as you already know a lot about the subject area. It’s also really fun!
So now you have no excuse. Whether you are living in an English-speaking country or not, there are creative ways you can practise for free!
When you take those first steps to practising and start to really enjoy the process, your speaking skills and confidence will go from strength to strength.
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