From our experience as English teachers and leading the RealLife Global movement over the past few years, one of the most common questions we get is:
How do I improve my speaking?
The answer is actually quite simple, and even obvious:
The only way to get better at speaking is by speaking!
That’s right, if you want to get better at speaking another language, there is no magic pill or technique; you just have to open your mouth and start trying.
One problem is that, when we learn languages at school, we are not given many opportunities to speak, so we acquire the mentality that we have to improve our English before we’ll be ready to speak (maybe you’ve been learning English wrong). But if we think like this, we’ll never be ready to speak.
Sooner or later, if speaking well is your goal, you must start speaking.
When you begin using your English, it is a turning point in your learning.
Suddenly, what you’ve learned makes more sense. You remember new vocabulary better as you’re forced to recall and apply it. Collocations start to just sound right (or wrong). And suddenly things that you couldn’t understand before become clear.
So, without a doubt, if you want to be an exceptional English learner, the answer is to begin speaking.
This answer is simple, but it leads to several common dilemmas, which I will explain and help you overcome:
- I have no one to speak to
- I’m too shy to speak another language
- People can’t understand me
- I don’t understand others
I have no one to speak to
You’re ready to speak, but you don’t live in an English speaking country. You don’t have English-speaking friends. So whom can you talk to?
Well, first of all, don’t let not having anyone to speak to stop you. Speak to yourself! Speak to your dog or cat. You won’t get feedback (or a response), but it’s still valid practice!
A good exercise is recording your voice and listening. Often times your English is good enough to catch some of your own mistakes and self-correct them, and little by little this does build fluency.
But eventually you want to use the language for it’s true purpose: To talk to other people…
This is something we struggled with for a long time. We recognized this in our students in Brazil, which is what brought the start of RealLife English, with our parties in Belo Horizonte. But we realized that the scale of this was very small, and wanting to bring the same experience to a much larger audience we started a blog teaching our methodologies (learn more about the RealLife story).
Now, after building a global audience, we finally have been able to bring the opportunity for English learners all over the world to use their English every day with the RealLife Global Network.
This solves the problem of not having anyone to talk to, because you have a community FULL of people just like you who are looking to practice and improve their English.
If you haven’t checked it out yet, I would recommend you sign up now.
I’m too shy to speak another language
But maybe you’re a little too shy to get started.
Honestly, this is a problem that you can only overcome by pushing yourself, feeling uncomfortable, and speaking with people.
One of our goals was to make RealLife Global the perfect environment to help you build your confidence. Again, everyone on RLG is an English learner, speaker, or teacher, so it’s a patient and supportive community and is the perfect place to practice and overcome your shyness!
And the benefits of this are beyond just speaking another language. It will make you more outgoing in life in general.
If you are shy about speaking English, I highly recommend you read these articles:
- 7 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Speaking English and Communicate with Courage
- How to Overcome Embarrassment When Speaking English
People can’t understand me (pronunciation problems)
This is perfectly normal. It’s because when we learn English in school, rarely is there any focus on correct pronunciation, so we get stuck in habits of pronouncing like in our native tongue, making it harder for others to understand.
Note: This is NOT a problem with your accent. An accent can be a nice reminder of where you come from. This is purely the mechanics of how you say things in English. Clear pronunciation is crucial in order to be well understood.
If you have pronunciation problems that you want to work on, I’d suggest that you check out these articles:
- Is Bad Pronunciation Killing Your Fluency? Wanna Know Why?
- 7 Tips to Drastically Improve Your Pronunciation in English
I can’t understand others well (listening problems)
The last common barrier to speaking is not being able to understand your Practice Partner. We know this can be quite frustrating. Maybe you have a good level of vocabulary, and can speak, but when others speak back to you, you struggle to understand.
Below there are many other methods and ideas for how to improve your listening:
Now Start Speaking!
Now that you know how to improve your speaking, we hope to speak with you soon on the RealLife Global Network! Become a part of the community where you can make friends and practice your English with people from every part of the world. It’s absolutely FREE and everyone is welcome.
Want more ideas of how to start speaking English? Check out this article.