There is a common pattern among my students when talking about their English skills, and which of their skills are stronger and weaker. Most students complain that they don’t speak as well as they would like to, and/or lack the confidence to speak as well as they read. Reading is usually the skill they feel is the strongest, and the area they rarely want to practice in our online lessons.
This makes absolute sense. Think about it, learners probably read more in English passively (and actively) than they listen, speak, or write in the language. Learners have the ability to read everywhere: online news article, subtitles on films/TV shows, signs while traveling, Instagram/Facebook or other social media posts, and perhaps the music lyrics of their favorite English songs (the list could go on). Whether they are doing these things to actively study, or just happen to be passively scrolling through Instagram and reading a few posts, the point is that this reading skill gets review and practice over, and over, and over again.
I just had a student tell me yesterday that she has difficulty with her listening comprehension skills, and understands more when she reads. So she relies heavily on the subtitles when watching movies or TV shows. She seemed a little surprised when I told her that while she is getting some passive listening practice by doing this, this exercise is focusing primarily on her reading skills, an area which she already feels is strong. So, I encouraged her not to use the subtitles. I encouraged her to pay more attention to listening and work a little harder on building that skill, rather than defaulting to what was easier.
I also tried to explain a very common MYTH that she and so many students have about improving their speaking. I have heard many times that students don’t think they can improve their speaking skills when talking with other English learners, or by themselves. I have heard all of the reasons:
“But teacher, I might learn incorrect English from other non-native speakers.”
“If I speak with another learner, I won’t improve because the other student won’t correct my mistakes.”
“Teacher, if I speak alone, no one will correct me.”
Most of these reasons surround the idea that one’s speaking skills can’t possibly improve without a private tutor, without being corrected. I debunk (*show that these reasons are not true*) in this article here, about the Benefits of English Language Exchange. However, to summarize the main idea here, you can still improve your speaking without being corrected 100% of the time.
Going back to the examples of building reading skills, all of those things are done without a tutor, and all of those things improve language skills. A student may read and not understand everything, but they are still learning. Vocabulary might be misunderstood while reading subtitles, but English skills are still being improved in other areas (grammar, sentence structure, etc..). So, the same goes for speaking practice. Even if you (my dear student) make a mistake, and it’s not corrected, you are still improving by building more confidence speaking. When you speak aloud to yourself, your brain is still making this connection of producing language vocally and you can begin to learn “what sounds right.”
The main point is, when you produce language orally (when you speak) you will absolutely be improving this skill is some way, shape, or form. You will be improving your speaking skills, even without a tutor.
Are you ready for 5 things you can start doing today, alone, to build those conversational skills and increase your English fluency? Let’s do this!
5 Ways to Speak English more Fluently
1) Choose your favorite TV show or movie and record about 3 minutes of audio from one of the characters. Pay attention to their pronunciation, intonation, and how they use the grammar and vocabulary. Now, repeat exactly what they say OUT LOUD and record yourself to compare. Analyze the differences and make note of where you need to improve (is your accent much different? is the intonation off?) Repeating this will help you sound and speak more like a native.
2) Read a piece of complex text out loud to familiarize yourself with various sentence structures and grammar points. This will be even better if it’s corrected text you have written to ensure it is language you can and will use. Make sure you have the text edited to be sure it is using correct language. Reading it aloud with simulate speaking by producing English orally (rather than just in your head when you read to yourself).
3) Join my Instagram video challenge! You don’t have to post your video to practice, but can at least record yourself (on your own phone)”responding” to my questions. You will hear my sentence and answers and can read about the grammatical structures to make sure you are responding using accurate English. Record yourself speaking, responding to this question to get more speaking practice. See my example here:
4) Speak to yourself as you complete a task, and imagine you are “telling a friend” what you are doing in the moment. This will help with your present and present continuous tenses and can help you identify where you lack vocabulary needed in your day-to-day activities. So if you are cooking, then say aloud what you are doing. EX: “I am grabbing a cutting board from the cupboard and putting it on the counter. I am getting a knife from the drawer so I can chop my onion and garlic. I already cut the celery, so I don’t need to do that. Next, I am going to put water in a pot and bring it to a boil” Etc… Etc…
5) Find a language exchange partner to communicate with on Skype, Facetime, Viber, or Whatsapp! There are so many people out there who need to practice their language skills, and want more opportunities to speak English. Finding a partner and setting up a 20-30 minute (or more) conversation meeting would be a great addition to your weekly studying. If you need help finding an English language exchange partner, then comment below this post that you are interested, and I will help you find one!
Which of these are you going to start doing right away?
Which one do you feel the most nervous to do?
Remember that stepping outside of your comfort zone and feeling nervous is a good sign. It means you’re doing something differently, which is going to lead you to different results. These different results are improve English skills! So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start speaking English!
Happy Studying! ♥
Please, help me help your friends! If you share this post with (at least) 1 friend, that is 1 more person I can help improve their language skills. I say thank you, and they will be thankful too!