One of the most common questions we get asked is "What is the best way for me to practice my spoken English skills?" Well, to start, if you have some native English friends, ask them to correct you as you speak with them, or maybe suggest a language exchange (or better yet, offer to cook them food in exchange for a 30 minute lesson!)
If you don't have many native friends, here are some other good options:
1. Watch movies and TV. This is a great substitute for real conversations. Try watching a movie you already know in your own language, then watch it in English without subtitles. Later, watch the movie again with subtitles and see how much you understood. Write down a couple new expressions and look them up after the movie.
2. Listen to English music. This is another great way to practice. Not only does music stick in our minds for a long time, but singing in another language is a great way to improve your accent and practice your sentence stress!
3. Listen to English podcasts. Podcasts are a great way to improve both your listening comprehension and vocabulary, all while making you smarter! For lower level students, chose topics you're already familiar with to help you understand the general idea even when the language is challenging. For more advanced learners, chose unfamiliar topics to broaden your vocabulary and improve your ability to participate in more diverse subjects during discussions.
Tip for listening practice: You don't have to understand everything. Try to focus on the big picture and don't let unfamiliar words distract you. If you don't understand a word or expression just move on! You don't want to miss the rest of the sentence because your brain is focusing on a word you don't know.
4. Practice Shadowing. By far one of the best activities to improve your pronunciation, this technique requires mimicking a native speaker and reading along with them. Print a transcript of a video or song and practice repeating the lines after the speaker until you sound just like them. For more information on shadowing, watch the video: “English Speaking Practice: How to improve your English Speaking and Fluency: SHADOWING”
5. Translate English articles into your own language. This is a good activity to improve grammar and vocabulary. Pick a paragraph from a news article or book and try to translate it as closely as possible to your own language. This will force you to look up new vocabulary and expressions, as well as pay close attention to grammar structures.
No matter what your preferred method may be, the most important thing is to practice and have fun! The more you enjoy speaking (or singing) English, the more likely you are to use and remember it. If you'd like to practice with a native speaker, contact us! We're more than happy to work with you to help improve your English skills!