It’s even more difficult now to find English speaking opportunities when so many of us are working from home, or not going out. International travel – one of the most common ways to get practice – has almost disappeared under lockdown as well.
But there are ways that you can get speaking practice. Here are five things you can do to speak English regularly.
Use Zoom meetings
Or Skype, or Microsoft Teams – or whatever platform your company uses for online meetings. If you work for a company with international offices, make sure you take part in any meetings that you can. This is a great way to get speaking practice with colleagues around the world. (Here’s a post on why this is so important.)
If you don’t have the opportunity to speak with international colleagues, you can do this:
– Volunteer for projects where you’ll need to make contact with other people. For example, research projects mean you need to talk to other people to get information.
– Ask to shadow current projects for your own professional development. Attend meetings so you can get information and experience in a new area of your job.
‘Narrate’ your day
This is one of my favourite speaking activities. It’s free, you can do it anywhere at any time, and it’s perfect if you’re shy about speaking.
All you need is five to ten minutes every day to talk about your day in English. What did you do? (Or what are you going to do?) How did you feel? Did you learn anything?
When you do this activity, you’ll find that there are words you don’t know in English, so you’ll also increase your vocabulary. You’ll also get used to speaking these words out loud, which is good for your pronunciation.
Tip 1: Don’t worry about accurate grammar when you do this. The important thing is to make speaking English a regular habit. It will feel strange the first time you do it, but keep going and your fluency will improve.
Tip 2: Record yourself speaking then listen back. Which parts were difficult? Were there words which you weren’t sure about? Recording yourself also helps you realise that you’re constantly improving – even if you’re at an “intermediate plateau“.
Use an app / Get online practice
If you’re happy to do a language exchange (= find someone who wants to learn your language) you can try an app like GoSpeaky, Lingbe or HelloTalk.
If this isn’t possible, you can also get (free) online practice from the University of Cambridge. The new Speak & Improve site uses technology to assess your English. It’s useful if you want to know your level of English.
Shadow films and TV
This is a really useful activity to improve your listening and pronunciation as well. Watch a scene, pause and repeat what the actor / actors say. Then watch the scene again and compare your version. When you do this, remember:
– pay attention to intonation
Very often, English intonation sounds “exaggerated”, but as you copy it, you’ll sound more natural
– five minutes is enough
Don’t ruin your enjoyment!
Listening to songs (and also singing them) is another great way to improve your pronunciation. How do words link to other words in the song? Which words are stressed? Can you hear the rhymes?
If you’re new to English songs, try slower ones first and search out the lyrics (= words) of the song, so you know what you’re singing!
Build Your Vocabulary!
One of the quickest ways to get to advanced English level is to build your vocabulary. In my new training (coming soon!) I’ll help you get an advanced vocabulary in English so that you can speak precisely, accurately and confidently. Join the waiting list below to be the first to hear when the training starts!