15 How To Speak English Tips
15 How To Speak English Tips
You Can Use Right Now!
1. Forget About Your English Grammar
Speaking English is an entirely different challenge to learning to write English. You will have spent much of your time in a classroom, with a teacher telling you that grammar is the most critical part of learning the English language. However English grammar is just one small part of any language.
Grammar is often concerned with writing English, and we are here to improve your English speaking right? Please do not get 'bogged down' with grammar; it is important but not so much for this part of your learning. You can learn spoken grammar by listening – so that things sound wrong if incorrect.
2. Stop Thinking Like A Student In A Classroom
If you are going to learn to speak English more quickly, then you are going to have to learn differently right? If learning to speak English using a traditional approach worked so well why would you even be looking for a different approach?
The reality is simple you can learn to speak English in a class, it's just very slow! Most classroom English learning will spend 80% of its time reading, and writing and students will practice listening and speaking only 20% of that time.
Let's say you attend one English class a day for 1 hour. The class spends 20% (12 minutes) speaking English. The classroom has six students (I know I'm making the maths easy here!) which mean YOU ONLY GET 2 MINUTES A DAY! Crazy right?
It might take you forever at this pace.
3. Use English Language Audio Only
We have a saying at Adept English "Everything in English". It might sound obvious that to learn English speaking you will need the lesson to be in English.
It will surprise you just how many traditional English teachers use a native language to teach English.
Why is this so bad? It's bad because this way of learning means translation! Translation from a native language to the English language is slow. Building all of your speaking skills on top of your ability to translate will ruin your English language speaking education from day one.
4. Find Your Dead Time
So many people think they just do not have the time to learn English. Adept English might agree with you if learning English involves travelling to a classroom, or being in front of a computer screen then yes, you may not have the time to learn.
What if all your lessons could be on your smartphone, and you just need some headphones? Now you can learn while you travel to work, work out at the gym, clean the house. You do have a lot of "dead time" during the day, everyone does! Finding some time every day to put on some headphones will not be a problem.
If you can find 20-40 minutes of "dead time" a day you can learn to speak English much more quickly than you thought!
5. Listen To English Every Day
Hopefully (see tip 4 above) you have some time every day, even if it’s while you eat your lunch, to invest in yourself. Now I'm going to tell you why you should spend this time listening to English every day.
Your brain has been trained to hear the sounds and rhythms of your native language. When you are out shopping, and the background noise is loud, your smart brain will still be able to spot someone trying to talk to you in your native language. Your brain has been trained to recognise the sounds and rhythms of that language.
Well, guess what? You also need to do the same for the English language. You need to train your brain to recognise spoken English. The only way to do this is to listen to English spoken by native English language speakers.
And when I say listen, I mean over and over and over again. You need to familiarise your brain with the sound of English language. You may not understand it all yet, and it may be too fast, it may be a little-jumbled up. But fear not! Your fantastic brain is learning automatically to recognise separate words, to identify when a sentence is starting and when it will finish.
For this to happen, you need to listen to a little English every day over and over.
6. Focus On Everyday English First
Did you know if you were to pick up any English book right now and analyse the words, just 100 English words would make up 50% of the book! Yes amazingly if you know only 100 English words you will automatically understand 50% of every English book ever written!
Ok, so maybe that's not very useful because most of the meaning of the book is described using the other words. That's not the point; the point is if you learn just 100-500 of the most common English words you will understand 50-80% of what’s said in English.
The rest of the words are 'specialist' words. Used to describe a specific thing or situation, for example, words used at work or words specific to food or travelling.
So let us say your goal is to communicate with English speaking work colleagues at your IT company. It will be much faster to learn (100-500 common English words + specific words related to working in IT) first. You do not need to learn about words for a restaurant (yet). Stay focused on the language required for your own language goal + common English first.
7. Tell People What You Are Doing
If you tell people what you are doing, it will be harder for you to quit! You want to learn to speak English, make it as hard, embarrassing or uncomfortable as you can to fail!
Telling people what you are doing will also make it clear to people why you spend so much time with your headphones on! You do not want to look like an antisocial loner; you want people to see you as a hard-working, go-getter who is learning a brand new language. So make sure you tell everyone what you are doing.
8. Listen Over And Over To The Same Audio
Learning English through listening, all sounds pretty simple, straightforward almost, so where is the catch?
If I were to highlight the biggest pain in the neck aspect of this way of learning I would say it is the repetition. Listening over and over to the same audio takes effort, and it can be hard to stay motivated.
Unfortunately, repetition is so important to this method of learning, you will just have to power through.
I would suggest alternating between audio clips and having a library of English podcasts which cover different topics to prevent getting bored. It helps if you have something interesting to listen to that is interesting in and of itself.
9. Speak The Words Slowly
When speaking English, quickly does not equal better! The majority of famous or popular English speakers speak slowly.
The natural pace of the English language is quite slow (say compared to say Italian or Spanish). You will make your life very hard if you try to speak English to quickly, especially if you do not need to. The bonus is you will sound better to English speakers.
10. Skip Things You Don't Understand Yet
The English language has around 225,000 words in use. You do not need to know them all to speak everyday English! Some students find it hard to leave a word they have listened to but not understood behind. They immediately try to look it up and learn it. You do not need to work this way.
In fact, we recommend you just listen to the word, hear it over and over and in time, work out what it means. It would be quite alright to hear a word 5 or more times and not understand it. Not understanding a word helps you get used to the idea that in real life in English you’re not going to understand everything. It is good experience without de-motivating you.
You are still learning something, your brain is hearing a sound, that it now knows is an English word, it has other sounds that come before and after which form a pattern that your brain understands.
Because you recognise some of the words around the new or difficult word your brain will start to guess what it might be. Eventually, you will understand what the word is, but the way your brain has stored this information (i.e. without translation) will mean your recall of the word in the future will be super fast. This speed of recall is what you need to speak English fluently.
11. Set Learning Goals For Each Day
Learning to speak English through listening is pretty easy to do. However its so easy to learn this way you might lose your focus.
Remember that this is about your learning to speak a new language. Remember why you are doing this, the motivations behind this. Maybe you will make more money at work, enjoy a holiday more, speak to work colleagues in English. Travel or study abroad.
You started this learning journey for a reason! Stay focused, setting goals will help you do this. A goal could be to establish a specific number of minutes to spend listening to English every day. Maybe practise one new word every day picked from the audio you listened to for 20 minutes?
Just keep listening and set yourself challenges that show you are making progress towards your goal of speaking English fluently.
12. Stop Translating
Translation is inefficient when learning to speak a language. Translation is very slow and speaking a language proficiently, requires speed. You need to understand more of what you hear before you can speak in any language. The last thing you want is four times the effort before you can start communicating in English.
Four times the effort when translating? Yes, you listen to a person speak English, then you convert the English words you heard into your native language, then you apply some grammar to get the context of the conversation. You then understand what you heard. Now you do the whole thing the other way! You form the response in your language; you translate each word. You apply any grammar that is needed, and you speak the word sentence. It's VERY SLOW!
13. Find A Familiar Voice
Like any problem you might face in life, the more variables involved, the more difficulty you will have in solving the problem.
Keep your problem 'learning to speak English' as simple as you can make it. Focus on listening, keep it to pure audio (no video) make sure the voice you hear is a native English speaker.
To start off keep to one English voice. Familiarity with the sound of that voice will make listening more comfortable. At some point, you will move on to more than one voice in a conversation, which makes listening more difficult. Just keep your listening practise uncomplicated in the beginning.
14. Mistakes Are How You Learn
When learning your first language, you were most likely a baby. You almost certainly made many mistakes during that learning experience. Your mum or dad did not care about the mistakes; they probably thought they were cute! Then gently they would correct any blunders you made with repetition.
Learning to speak a new language, like English, will result in many mistakes. Please accept them. Learn from them. They are just part of the learning approach. Do not let them bother you in any way.
15. Video Is A Distraction
Finally, video. Firstly, let me just make it clear, a video has its place when helping a student learn a new language. They do however have some drawbacks:
It's hard to watch videos in dead time try watching YouTube while you drive to work. Sure some dead time is appropriate; however, you will find audio is a better fit into your dead time, and this makes it easier to stick to listening to 20-40 minutes of English a day
Videos are visual, the problem you are trying to solve here is sound/audio based.
Videos need bigger and better equipment to use. Try storing 50 videos on a smartphone vs 50 audio files.
Videos are a distraction for your brain! You want your brain busy processing sounds not visual images (regardless of how pretty the teacher is!)