Depending on your mother tongue, English shouldn’t be impossibly hard to learn. It’s probably way harder for you to learn Arabic, Icelandic or Polish. Once you have grounded writing, listening and reading comprehension, mastering spoken English shouldn’t be drudgery – although it does not seem so. The bad news? There is no secret book, course, video or magic tutorial that will magically give you a perfect accent. BUT there are some tips and tricks that will certainly help you improve your spoken English. After bringing these tips into effect, you’ll probably love hearing yourself speaking.
One more thing: if the problem is your accent, try and choose a more vocal learning technique like reading out loud or singing. If the problem is your ability to choose words, then you should definitely expand your vocabulary and get used to the language you want to learn by reading a lot and listening to audios in English.
That being said… let’s get you fluent!
1. “How can I improve my spoken English in a fun way?”
If you speak English as a second or third language, that’s what you probably asked yourself a few minutes ago before going to Google for help. Speaking is fun, but only in your mind, isn’t it? There’s a huuuge difference between how well you speak English in your mind and how bad it sounds when you actually speak it. And like any normal human being you want to learn. You really do, but you also want to have fun while doing so.
If your kind of fun is reading until you can no longer keep your eyes open, then reading Harry Potter is what you should do to improve your spoken English. And not just Harry Potter. You can choose any book in English that does not require an advanced vocabulary. The first Harry Potter book was written for English-speaking 11-year-olds, so it should be perfect for your speaking practice. Take your time and READ OUT LOUD. Yes, just like that. It will help you hear your own mistakes and better articulate certain words. Good luck!
2. Devour podcasts and audiobooks in English
Both podcasts and audiobooks are incredibly useful when you want to improve your spoken English at home. You’ll do one thing while helping yourself in two ways. Firstly, you’ll get your hearing used to the English language and secondly – you’ll enrich your mind with useful information on certain topics such as technology, life, Brexit, music or – again – Harry Potter! Or The Lord of the Rings, The Great Gatsby, War and Peace, One Hundred Years of Solitude and so on. The people that record audiobooks usually have amazing American English or British English accents (take Jim Dale for example) and hearing them will bring you closer to the accent you always wanted to have.
3. Improve your spoken English online or using smart tech
In recent years, technology has come a long way and language learning apps such as Mondly make it possible for you to talk to a chatbot that understands voice input and replies with a human voice. Its goal is to provide fun and adaptive lessons that encourage learners like yourself to practice the language they are learning in everyday scenarios, such as ordering in a restaurant or making a reservation. This all sounds like an SF scenario, but chatbots can already recognize millions of inputs. Suddenly, Spike Jonze’s masterpiece – “Her” – isn’t as unlikely as you thought, isn’t it?
4. How to learn spoken English the easy way
Speaking is actually the easy way of improving your spoken English. Easy, but at the same time the hard way. If you don’t have the possibility of traveling to an English-speaking country or the good fortune of having an English-speaking friend, this method is not an option for you.
But there is a solution. It may sound a bit creepy, but talking to yourself is the answer in this particular situation. The good ol’ talking to yourself. We all do that from time to time. Why not do it in English? Not necessarily out loud. Use your thoughts. The accent sounds better now in your mind, but in time your actual accent will improve too.
5. Practice accent with tongue twisters and songs
I come from Alabama with my banjo on my knee,
I’m going to Louisiana, my true love for to see.
It rained all night the day I left, the weather it was dry
The sun so hot I froze to death, Susanna, don’t you cry.
Oh! Susanna, Oh don’t you cry for me,
For I come from Alabama with my banjo on my knee.
Oh! How I liked singing this piece when I started studying English. Loved it! Start with nursery songs, continue with tongue twisters and finish your training with Eminem songs. When you’ll manage to master Eminem, your spoken English will be flawless.
6. Give yourself spoken English lessons
As mentioned before, thinking in English can really help you improve your speaking skills. But more than thinking in English, you can act as both tutor and student. Remember the times when you did grammar exercises by yourself? Here’s what you could do now: listen to audios in English – it can be a podcast, audiobook or even a Youtube video of Jimmy Fallon – then record yourself while trying to repeat the exact same words. Comparing the two versions of the same audio will help you easily identify your mistakes and correct them.
If the problem is your accent, diction could also help you improve.
7. Watch movies and study spoken English conversations
The best thing about movies is that they can be both fun and educative. After exploring the previous tips you probably already know how you can use movies in your own advantage.
From vocabulary to accents and intonation, movies can offer a great deal of information you can use to create your own syllabus and start training. Just choose your list and begin your research! You’ll soon find out that movie dialogues are easily digestible even for an ESL speaker.
8. Learn common idioms, sayings, and expressions
This technique is an absolute boost for your English vocabulary! Learning common English sayings and expressions will spice up your conversations and make you sound waaaay more native.
Explore the most exhaustive lists you can find on common English idioms, sayings, expressions and proverbs and discover how can you include them in your day-to-day conversations. Your “limited English vocabulary” days will be over in a heartbeat!
9. Organize spoken English classes with your friends
This scenario does not apply to everyone. But even if you don’t have friends interesting in practicing spoken English, the world wide web is the big place where you can find friends for every hobby or project you may have.
Bring your friends together at a local pub or in a video chat and start a debate in English. For example, one topic that our English teacher used to get us talking was “pro or against animal testing”. You were so caught up in the debate we forgot we were actually speaking English. Just try it and watch your tongue untie.
Improve your spoken English faster with Mondly’s chatbot with speech recognition!