Of the 2.3 billion people living on earth approximately 375 million speak English.
There are more than 50 English speaking countries, where English is either the official or the primary language. It is the third most frequently used language in the world besides Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. The English language, (https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/how-english-evolved-into-a-modern-language/1575959.html) which evolved from a combination of Old English and the German Anglo-Saxon tongue, began to be commonly used around the 5th century.
Hence, it’s no surprise that many of us from Asia want to learn to speak in English and for those of us who have some English knowledge, we aim to improve our spoken English. So, here are some simple steps to guide you in your Spoken English journey!
1. Think in English.
Attempting to speak in a new language can appear to be challenging initially. Many English learners think in their native language and then try to speak English. This way, one always has to translate between languages in the mind. Translating isn’t an easy thing to do! Those who use translation tools will tell you that these are not helpful as there are many translation errors.
The solution is to think in English. Consciously and consistently use English when you’re thinking about how your day went, or when you’re deciding on what food to order. Use an online or a pocket English=to-English dictionary to check meanings of words. That way, you won’t have to use your native language and translate words. You’ll soon realise that when you think in English, it’s easier for you to speak in English.
2. Talk to yourself.
Whenever you’re at home (or alone somewhere else) you can practise your English by talking to yourself.
If you’re already thinking in English, try speaking your thoughts out aloud. Read out aloud, too. Practice makes perfect even if you don’t have anyone to correct your mistakes, just the act of speaking out aloud will help you become more confident in speaking English.
3.Use a mirror.
Whenever possible, take a few minutes to stand in front of the mirror and speak. Choose a topic, set a limit of 2 or 3 minutes and just talk. Yes, I mean JUST TALK! This exercise is to watch your mouth, face and body language as you speak. It also makes you feel like you’re talking to someone.
Don’t stop until you have reached the time limit. If you get stuck on a word you don’t know, try expressing your idea in a different way. Review and look up how to say that word later on. This will definitely help you find out what kinds of words or sentences you have trouble with.
4.Focus on fluency.
Listen to yourself whenever you speak in English: how often do you pause to think about what to say next? The more you pause, the less confident you sound and the less comfortable you become. Try the mirror exercise above, but challenge yourself to speak without unnecessary pauses.
This might mean that your sentences won’t be grammatical, and that’s alright! If you focus on speaking fluently instead of correctly, you’ll still be understood and you’ll sound better. You can fill in the correct grammar and word rules over time.
If you are worried about pronunciation, check out International Phonetic Alphabets (IPA). Learning standard English pronunciation will bring you a long way in your English Journey.
5. Learn phrases, not just words.
When you come across a new word, instead of writing down just the word, why not write down the whole phrase? The context of the phrase will help you to work out the meaning of the word. You can craft some sentences related to real-life situations.
This method of learning vocabulary has been proven to be effective in producing results. It is a much more powerful way to improve language learning and memory.
6. Learn word forms with new words.
You can make speaking easier by learning the different forms of any words you learn. Do this when you’re learning new vocabulary. For example, if you have just learned the verb ‘drive’, you should also learn the past and participle forms like ‘drove’ and ‘driven’. When you know the word forms, you won’t have to stop and search your mental word list for different words—you’ll know exactly when you need to use that word while speaking.
An even better idea is to learn word phrases, not just words. For example, you might say “how do you feel today?” but a native speaker might say “how’re you doing?” or “how have you been?”. Phrases and expressions can help you sound more natural when you speak.
7. Get familiar with your most common sayings.
Take some time to consciously observe how you speak in your native language. What words and phrases do you use most often? Get familiar with how to say your most commonly used phrases and words in English. Knowing them in English will help you speak as well in English as you do in your native language.
8. Prepare for specific situations.
Are you learning English for a specific purpose? For instance, are you learning English so that you can get a job in an English-speaking country or an MNC? You should practise English for interview purposes. Are you learning English so that you can make friends in America? Then you would need a different kind of English.
Before you visit an English-speaking country, do practise what you have to speak in English, you can practice what you might have to say. If you’re preparing to go on a vacation, how might the conversations in a hotel/guest house sound like? Answer the questions a hotel receptionist might ask you. Try talking about the room and what is available for guests. You’ll feel more confident if you’re prepared!
When learning to speak fluently, you can be your best helper or your worst enemy! Though it may be hard at times, try not to worry about how you sound when you speak. Just relax!
If you become stuck or confused, just take a deep breath and start over. Speak slowly if you have to. If you take time to pause and think about your next sentence, pause confidently. Do whatever it takes to become more comfortable with speaking English.
10. Tell a story from your language in English.
Here’s a great way to test how well your spoken English improves over time: choose a story that you know really well in your native language and tell it in English.
Remember to think in English as you’re telling your story. Focus on speaking fluently instead of correctly. Say every sentence out aloud even if you have nobody to talk with.
You will find many other ways on the internet on improving your spoken skills. What’s most important is to practise the strategies. Do a lot of positive self-talk to boost your confidence. Never tell yourself that when you finally speak well in English, you will become a confident person. Confidence should be your starting point. From the day you decide to improve your spoken English, think, speak, walk and act confidently, you will master the language.