In this lesson we cut to the chase (An American idiom) and give you some solid advice on how you can practically improve your English speaking. As you might already know, we take a more modern approach to language learning here at Adept English. We always focus on high quality, interesting and engaging lessons that efficiently deliver results using modern learning techniques.
“Cut to the chase” is a phrase that means to get to the point without wasting time.
Today is the Thursday lesson, which is usually the easier and shorter English podcast lesson. In this lesson we discuss some great tips on improving your spoken English. If you are here wondering why so many people listen to our “Listen & Learn“ podcasts, all you have to do is spend 10 minutes listening and you can decide for yourself.
With so many people listening to our podcasts and the number of visitors to our website climbing, we have spent a lot of time working on our new website. Some fun facts coming out of the work we are doing on our new and improved website. We recently migrated all podcast transcripts from Wordpress (the website software we use) to plain old markdown files to prepare for our new way of doing things.
While we were doing this we worked out:
309 (Number of lessons) * 1500 (the average number of words in an Adept English podcast lesson) / 500 (The average number of words on 1 side of A4 paper) = 927 pages of Free English lessons, how awesome is that!
childminder mumbling mumble
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Hi here and welcome to this podcast from Adept English. We’re here to provide you with English language courses and Accessible English language learning.
One of the things that we’re asked is ‘Why is it I can understand English well, but I’m less good at speaking English?’ Classes in English may help a little, because there will automatically be other people to practice English conversation with – that’s one way. But if you’re listening to this podcast and understanding most of it, then you already have a really good vocabulary and a good grasp of the English language. But you may still find that you’re not yet speaking English as fluently as you would like. What can you do about that? Today I’m going to give you three tips, which will help you to understand this difficulty better and which will give you some advice on what to do about it. Here goes!
Tip One: The most important thing to remember, is that understanding English always comes before being able to speak. Your speaking of English is always going to be behind your ability to understand. This is normal in language development. If you find that you are able to understand the podcasts, but you can’t speak English very well, then this is perfectly normal. If you keep listening more and more, it will change.
The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.
⭐ Leonardo da Vinci, Artist
It’s much easier to understand meaning from listening – there are probably lots of words and expressions in English that you half know. If you hear them in context, you can probably work them out or you probably just about remember them. Our brains are wired to make meaning – so when we’re listening to spoken English, we can often work out what’s being discussed – even if you don’t know every word. But if you’re going to use the same words and expressions yourself, then you need to know them much, much better. So when you come to speak – your sentences will be much more simple than the sentences which you can understand. If you’re learning through listening - which is the best method if you want to become fluent - then you have to hear a word a lot of times, before you know it well enough, before you can remember it and you can bring to mind and actually use it yourself in conversation.
So this is important – expect there to be a gap, a difference in level between what you can understand and what you can say. I remember something my childminder told me. ‘My childminder’ means the woman who looked after my children when they were small, while I was at work. My childminder told me that her daughter was really quick to speak as a child and spoke really early. But her son didn’t speak early. So much so that they began to worry that there was something wrong with his speech, a delay in his language development, though he could clearly understand. Then between 3 years and 4 years old, he suddenly started to speak – in full, correct English sentences.
So rather than there being something wrong, all that time, it was as though he’d been listening and learning, learning all kinds of words and expressions. And when he was ready and not before, he started to speak – and his speaking was much more advanced than you would expect! So when you’re listening to podcasts and understanding – think of yourself as ‘storing up the language’ until you’re at the point of being ready to speak. So don’t despair, don’t feel bad, if you’re understanding is much better than your speaking. That’s perfectly normal.
Second tip – as your English improves, you’ll understand the podcasts more easily. You’ll need to look up fewer words. What you’ll also find, is that the podcasts are good to keep your English fresh and alive, but for a challenge, you may need to find something more difficult. You might try to watch some English television – or a film in English. Now that will be a greater challenge than the podcasts. When you listen to podcasts, you’re used to my voice, my accent, my way of speaking. And I try to make the podcasts clear and easy to understand.
I sometimes explain the language I use – so that as many people as possible can enjoy the podcasts. And sometimes I forget and it ends up being more complicated English – but then that’s good practice for you. But if you listen to English conversations on television or in films – there’s much more challenge there. You’ve got background noises, accents, different speakers – and mumbling. If you don’t know the verb in English ‘to mumble’, that’s M-U-M-B-L-E – then you’ll come across mumbling all the time in English TV and films. If I mumble, it means that I talk like this and I don’t form my words properly – so it’s difficult to understand.
If you’re watching a film in the language which you’re learning, then mumbling is really hard. But at the same time, it’s good practice for real English conversation. It means that you’re becoming able to understand English when the conditions aren’t perfect, when it’s an unfamiliar voice, when you don’t know all of the vocabulary, when the accent might be getting in the way. So it’s a whole different set of challenges.
And if you want a really big challenge – watch British comedy. There are lots of British comedians – performers who make you laugh – lots of them around. And comedy is particularly challenging and difficult to understand if English isn’t your first language.
So the point I’m making here is that there are many levels of being able to understand English. If you’re at the level where you can understand films and television programmes in English, and especially if you can understand British comedy then Adept English podcasts, will be easy for you – a walk in the park, as they say. But your speaking will always be several levels behind your level of understanding. So you just need to keep raising your level of understanding up and up and up – and your speaking ability will be raised as well at the same time, but it won’t be at the same level, until your English is very advanced.
Third tip: If you want to boost your speaking, English classes, or English speaking courses can help but I think a better idea is to join an online conversation exchange website. There are a number of these websites and you can sign up. You make a profile, with a bit of information about yourself. And then you include details of what languages you speak and what language you’re learning. Then different people can message you and you may find an English speaker who wants to learn your language, or someone who’s at a similar level of English learning to yours, so that you can speak English together. Then you can message, or you can use Skype or Zoom or Facetime to have your conversations.
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You meet interesting people this way. And it really does help your speaking skills because it’s quite intense. There’s nowhere to hide – you have to talk to this person! And after around half an hour of speaking, you’ll be really exhausted, really tired. But it’ll be good It’s much faster to learn this way, than by using speaking English classes. If you want to know how to learn spoken English at home, this is the answer. You don’t even need to leave your house to do this!
A photograph of a man talking with another language learner online to help practice speaking English.
But this last step is something that you can move towards. If you’ve done a lot of Adept English listening then this will be the next stage. And having done so much listening, this will make speaking so much easier and much more natural. If you enjoy the podcasts, but you’ve only started listening to us in the last year or so, then are you aware of our podcast download service? There are over 300 Adept English podcasts to listen to – and for a small fee, you can download our podcasts in bundles, in groups of 50 podcasts. There will be some that you’ve not listened to before.
And if you’re really serious about learning English, then having 50 podcasts on your phone to listen to, will really make a big different to your rate of progress, to how fast you learn. 50 podcasts is a lot of listening – and they’re basically Adult English Lessons. 50 English speaking classes to talk like a native speaker! They’re available on our website at adeptenglish.com right now.
So there you have it. Three tips on how to progress you English language learning, with Adept English and beyond Adept English.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.