If your language skills aren’t at the caliber that you want them to be, your search history may include the phrase “how to improve my spoken English.” That is the first step: seeking assistance. You understand the importance that your ability to communicate clearly and concisely has in your day-to-day and professional life.
The challenge now is improving it to the level that you need for maximum success. There are many methods that will be suggested, all of which will require practice, patience, and persistence to master. Some recommend having practice conversations with a friend group. Others suggest reciting passages in a mirror to perfect lip shape and tongue position. Others still claim tongue twisters and repetition are the way to go. In the end, each person is different.
It is up to you to decide which method is best for your level of understanding with the language. First, however, you need to understand exactly why this decision to improve will have such a positive impact in your life. This will give you the drive to continue, even if the learning process becomes frustrating.
Why Seek Improvement
One of the most widely known languages is English. Even while traveling abroad, you are bound to run into a few people who understand it at some level. There are approximately 375 million English speakers around the world with about 50 countries having English as their native or primarily spoken language. Even more still have it as a secondary language.
While different areas have different dialects and slang, the common language and rules remain the same. If you are aiming to study abroad or outsource to a different country, knowing how to speak English clearly will be a great benefit to you.
If English is your second language, clear communication can be difficult. Even native speakers can have trouble understanding one another due to accents, slang, and dialect. In one part of the country a certain term can mean something positive while in a different location it can be taken as an insult. Being able to pick up on context clues within the sentence is important as well and will help to avoid a misunderstanding.
However, this cannot be done if your spoken English is at a lower level. Especially in jobs where communication is a must, you need to be able to speak in a clear, concise manner to get your point across. If you are simply traveling, having the ability to ask for directions, places to eat, or – in the event of an emergency – medical assistance can be crucial. Without being able to communicate effectively, you will not be able to get the aid you need. Being able to improve your spoken English would open possibilities that would not have been available otherwise, from jobs to travel.
Now that you understand why it is so important to understand the language, you may be thinking, “I don’t know how to improve my spoken English. Where do I start?” The most basic way is by reading. Besides copying other people’s speech patterns, this is how small children begin learning the language. Start with easier books. Begin by reading to yourself to improve your comprehension.
As you grow more comfortable, read some passages aloud. Get a feel for how the language flows. Read the dialog how it would be spoken if you were in that conversation. If you have a pet they would probably love listening to you practice. To learn new words and how to pronounce them pick up a dictionary and thesaurus. Read anything and everything you can get your hands on. In time, you will notice your English speaking improving.
Along those same lines, watching movies with and without subtitles will help you learn different ways that words can be used, as well as some slang depending on the genre. Unlike with reading alone, you will be able to hear enunciation and how the language is generally spoken. This method will also expose you to different accents so you can more easily understand others.
Being able to understand what other English speakers are saying to you is a large step to being able to improve your own speaking. If movies are too much to start with, looking up YouTube videos directed toward improving speech patterns may be a better option. Once you are comfortable, graduating to movies is the next step.
While this option is on the expensive side, speech therapy has helped thousands of people improve their English speaking. This method is typically advertised to those who have speech impediments such as lisps or stutters, but it could be an option worth looking into if the need is high enough. It can address any underlying issues you may be having with the language and help with overcoming those issues with therapeutic practices.
Whether you are a beginner just learning the language or a native speaker looking to brush up, this fourth option is beneficial to anyone looking to improve their spoken English: online courses. If I were to look for ways on how to improve my spoken English, this is the option I would choose.
Unlike the other options that were previously discussed, taking classes helps build basic understanding of the language, how it’s used and enables you to learn the rules properly. There are even courses on pronunciation, how to piece sentences together in a natural manner, and speaking in a professional setting.
Besides providing a structured method of learning, another huge benefit of online courses is that you have access to a wide community that you can work with, ask questions, and learn from. Mentors are available to assist with particularly difficult questions as well, ensuring that you understand the material as thoroughly as possible. Instead of improving your speaking alone, you will be working alongside peers from all over the globe who are striving to do the same. You will have a support system at your fingertips.
edX has a user-friendly design that enables you to find what you need in as few steps as possible. After creating a free account, just go to the top left corner to search for the class subject that you would like to study. For students looking to improve their English speaking, the site makes it even easier to access what you need.
Next to the search box there is an “Explore” drop down menu where several areas of study are located. Simply follow the link “Language Learning” and click on “Learning English.” All the courses you will need pop up in one place. From there, you can choose whether to take individual courses—some of which are free, a certificate (a group of courses to aid in mastering a skill), or a degree.
One of the most popular certificates listed is “Improve Your English Communication Skills.” Within this specialization, you will cover how to write professional emails, speak professionally, build an ePortfolio, and expand your English skills to avoid miscommunication. This is probably one of the most thorough certificates that can help with improving your spoken English. It covers each area needed to establish a solid, basic understanding of the language which is an integral part to speech improvement.
Another great certificate to look in to would be “Learn English: Advanced Academic Speaking and Listening.” This specialization works to improve not only speaking (specifically for a lecture and classroom setting) but also comprehension, which is equally important for proper communication.
Areas such as note-taking, listening comprehension, how to conduct yourself during a presentation, and how to effectively communicate in a group discussion will be covered and utilized in a final project. While technically aimed at college students, each course in this certificate would benefit you and your goal to improve your English speaking.
If a certificate seems too intimidating, individual classes can also be taken. One of which is “Tricky American English Pronunciation.” This course is fantastic for honing your speaking abilities. If you have trouble with certain sounds, this will help you master them. It covers consonants, vowels, syllable stress, and how to connect words in a natural way which will enable you to communicate more clearly.
These final two courses do not necessarily focus on speaking, but they do cover basic English rules that will lead to improvement in the long run. “Grammar and Punctuation” and “Verb Tenses and Passives” provide sturdy building blocks to speaking proper English. As you can probably guess from the names, they cover grammar rules, how to use proper punctuation, and verbs.
There are a couple other classes that provide similar lesson plans in other areas of the sentence, but these two are a fantastic place to start. This list isn’t exhaustive, so continue exploring the site to find courses that match your needs.