One of the areas that English students find most difficult is SPEAKING. Many students feel confident about reading, writing, and even understanding, but when it comes to speaking they just can’t verbalize the words.
Fortunately, the internet has more and more options for you to get out to the world and practice your English with real people in real conversations, but it takes courage.
But with the right resources, a little bit of courage, and a lot of perseverance, the world is your oyster (it’s full of opportunities). Today we’re going to give you some tips, and share 5 great resources for you to practice speaking English online.
To start with, let’s cover the top reasons that you know how to read and write, but not speak.
First, traditional English classes emphasize writing, reading and grammar more than speaking (partly because in larger classes its hard to give students the individual attention they need to speak).
Second, students find speaking scary. But like any fear, the only way to overcome it is to face it. This means that in order to feel more confident and less afraid of speaking, you must start speaking, IMMEDIATELY.
Third, students feel like there are no opportunities to speak with native speakers (or even fluent non-native speakers from their own country). Maybe you live in a small town, and there are no foreigners living there. Or you live in a big city, and you’re just not sure HOW to meet native English speakers (if you do live in a big city, you probably can find native English speakers–read this!).
We’ve recently written articles on the other main areas of English, too. It’s important to master all of these in order to be an exceptional English learner. Check those out here:
20 years ago, these three obstacles certainly would be problems. But the Internet has changed everything. You just need to know where to look.
By finding the right resources to help you to start speaking, you will quickly feel more confident in your abilities as an English learner. You will be able to improve both your listening and your speaking skills. You won’t just know English, you’ll communicate it.
Start Speaking English
Where do you start looking for people with whom to practice your English?
Well first, let’s talk about your mindset. You need to be ready to put away your embarrassment. Be open. Be confident. And be proud. Learn to laugh at yourself if you make mistakes, and don’t worry about them. Whatever your level is in English, you should be confident in your abilities—you know another language!
Click on the infographic to the right for some suggestions of how to get into the right mindset.
Something I notice a lot with my students is under-confidence. They think that they don’t speak English well because they make little grammatical mistakes. All of my students, whether beginner or advanced, speak English much better than they think they do.
I GUARANTEE that you do, too. If you understand most of what you’re reading right now, then your English must be pretty damn good.
So feel confident.
And be proud of your mistakes. The more mistakes you make, the faster you can correct them and improve your English. Don’t fear mistakes, embrace them.
Lastly, stop seeking perfection! Even I don’t speak English perfectly–you probably don’t speak your native language perfectly either! We all have moments when we can’t think of the right word, or where we’re not certain if we’ve said something in the best way, but in our native language it doesn’t matter because we are so used to speaking it and so we have no fear.
Now let’s START SPEAKING English. Today we are going to talk about SIX awesome resources that you can use to start communicating in English:
- PenPal World
- Conversation Exchange
- Language Forums and Chats
This used to be one of the websites that I most highly recommended to my students for speaking. However, through recent changes, there are far fewer free aspects to this website. Despite this, there are still ways to speak English for free on Verbling.
So go onto the website and sign up. Verbling is going to ask you about yourself, including what languages you speak and what languages you are learning (it’s not just for English!).
Once you’ve signed in, click on the community tab to the left, this leads you to the practice groups. Here you can see what languages people are currently speaking and you can join a conversation group via Google Hangouts.
The second way to speak English with Verbling is through group classes. You are given a few complimentary tickets for classes, and can earn more by recommending the website to your friends.
Verbling gives live classes every hour on Google Hangouts on a variety of interesting topics. Just click on the live classes tab and check out what topics are planned today. Give Verbling a try—you’ll meet interesting people and improve your English!
italki is great because it allows you to not only practice you speaking and listening, but also your reading and writing!
Like Verbling, italki is also a language exchange website (not just for English). Once you sign up, you can find language partners from all over the world.
Verbling sets you up randomly with exchange partners, but with italki you search other members (with similar interests), connect via messages or chat, and then set up an exchange on Skype.
If you want to improve your writing more, there are a couple of ways.
The first is through chatting and messaging with other members. This is a great way to start communicating if you are shy (but eventually you should start speaking, too).
Second, italki gives you a notebook, which you can write in English and then people from the community will correct your mistakes. You can also read other English learners’ notebooks, or correct the notebooks of people learning your own language.
There is also a section of groups and discussions where you can comment on different topics and talk with like-minded people. And in the Answers section, you can ask and answer questions about English and other languages.
If you want more individual practice speaking, italki offers paid classes with teachers and tutors that vary in price. If you are willing to pay, this is a great way to get some one-on-one interaction with a native speaker of English, and is probably the fastest way to improve your English on italki. If you don’t want to pay, the language exchanges are still an awesome way to practice.
italki can be a very valuable online resource for you!
3. PenPal World
PenPal World is a website that allows you to connect for free with people all over the world. It’s a great way to make friends from all over to practice your English with.
With PenPal, you can connect with people who have similar interests to you and exchange messages. You can specifically look for people from certain countries, so if you’re learning English you can find Americans, Brits, Irishmen, Australians, etc.
Once you’ve made some friends, you can connect to them by Skype, and start speaking!
PenPal World is an awesome way to share language and culture with other people. It makes for an interesting learning experience.
4. Conversation Exchange
This website allows you to find an exchange partner either online or in-person.
It’s very simple! If you live in a big city, why not try to find someone to meet up with over coffee or a beer and trade English for your native language? Otherwise, just search for someone who is learning your language and organize to meet one day over Skype. That’s it!
Learn more about Conversation Exchange here.
5. Language Forums and Chats
There are many of these, so I’ll just mention a few of my favorites. You can find many more with a Google search.
Here they are:
- Chat Roulette
Chat Roulette isn’t necessarily for language learning, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great tool. It hooks you up with another random user to video chat with. It is most popular in the United States and the UK, so it means you can meet someone and talk about anything! Chat Roulette is definitely recommendable for advanced English students. Note: Be warned that this is not a protected site, so you might run into perverts and some inappropriate behavior.
Want to know more? Click here.
- Fluent in 3 Months Forum
Fluent in 3 Months is the brainchild of polyglot, Benny Lewis. Benny has an awesome methodology for language learning much like ours!
In the forum of Fluent in 3 Months you can share your language learning mission, meet language learners like yourself, look for exchange partners, ask questions, and much more! Check it out here.
Facebook is a huge international network, so it’s an awesome place to meet people and find exchange partners. Try searching for groups that meet your interests (Try searching for “[Language] + [City]”) and start talking to people there.
Remember to join the RealLife English International Community on Facebook if you haven’t, yet! It’s one of the biggest English learning communities in the world!
FREE E-Book: 101 Words You Will Never Learn in School
My Challenge to You
The Internet is an amazing resource for language learners. You no longer need to spend a bunch of money on a plane ticket to speak with native speakers of the language you’re learning! No matter where you live, you can go online, meet other language learners, and start speaking!
There are no more excuses for you not to improve your English! I challenge you to try at least THREE of these resources in the next week. One week from TODAY I want you to have your first exchange via Skype (or in-person) with a native speaker of English (or any other language you’re learning. With a little determination, you can do it!
Meet new people, learn about different cultures, and start speaking fluently! You no longer need to learn English just from a book. Experience English. COMMUNICATE.
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