When people say they want to speak better English, often what they mean is they want to speak more confidently. From targeted vocab research to studying topics suited to your personal interests, this article has plenty of advice for taking control of your learning.
Lots of intermediate and advanced English students want to speak English better. Or, to be more accurate, lots of intermediate and advanced English students want to speak English with more confidence. Many of you want to feel as if you can speak English well.
How do you go about this? Well, there are several things that you can do today to start making yourself sound better to others, and more importantly, yourself. With practice, it is possible to sound very similar to a native speaker. Here are several speech development exercises that you can start working on today.
Become a Better Listener
Sometimes it may feel like native speakers are speaking so fast that you can’t keep up with what they are saying. Sometimes the words that they use and the accents that they speak with are radically different from what your textbooks teach you. Observations like these can lead to a sense of hopelessness for some English learners.
Fortunately, there is a way to solve this problem and begin speaking English like a pro. That solution is targeted vocabulary research. This targeted vocabulary research involves researching the words that you hear most often, as well as common words that you have never heard before (or words that schools often don’t teach).
For starters, you can review words that you have already learned, but need to familiarize yourself with more. Here is a list of the hundred most spoken words in English. These make up the majority of what English speakers say, so train your mind and your ear to listen for them, and your English skills will improve.
Another English comprehension tip is to study the English verb ‘have’. Have is used to conjugate several English tenses, so if you can figure out how to use this verb perfectly, you will be able to understand conversations more easily. For example:
- Speaker A: Have you had a good day?
- Speaker B: I have had a good day so far. We will see what I have to do later.
- Speaker A: I have had to do a lot today. I will have had nearly a hundred assignments by next week.
- Speaker B: I had been doing all of the work before you came. At least we have each other for help now.
This is actually very similar to a typical English conversation that happens every day. You can review the forms of ‘have’ here.
Have fun studying! Remember to listen for these words in English conversations that you hear. If you don’t have access to regular English communication, try watching television shows or movies in English (with English subtitles).
Study Your Hobbies (In English)
What do you like to do for fun? A great way to develop your English vocabulary and sound like a more intelligent and thought-provoking speaker is to familiarize yourself with the jargon of one or more of your hobbies. This will help you to develop rich, sensual speech that captivates your listeners, even in another language.
Focus on your chosen hobbies and learn their technical terms in English. Learn which adjectives are used to describe such activities. Master the common phrases and analogies that are used to explain the discipline to others.
Take photography, for example. It’s a fun hobby, and it gives lots of opportunities to learn elegant English vocabulary. What sort of photography do you like? Do you like portraits, landscapes, wildlife, fashion, street, black and white, or another type of photography? Think about how you would describe your photos. Is it colourful or expansive? Perhaps it is detailed or spontaneous. It could be lush and breathtaking. Perhaps some of the bolded words above might be new vocabulary now added to your English arsenal.
Think about what your photos remind you of, and what feelings they evoke. Does a portrait remind you of your childhood? Perhaps a city at night evokes a sense of wealth and splendor. A photo of a landscape could be awe-inspiring and wondrous.
Learn The Lingo
In addition, you can improve your English fluency by studying the words and phrases that people actually use in conversation. I’m talking about idioms and slang. Do you know what these following idioms mean?
- Caught between a rock and a hard place
- Best of both worlds
- Devil’s advocate
- Kill two birds with one stone
- See eye to eye
These American English idioms are quite common, and they enrich daily speech. Knowing these will make you sound and feel more like a native speaker. Here is a link to 25 Popular And Modern English Idioms to review as well as 50 of the most common American English idioms here.
If you want to learn even more, then learn some slang words. These are what younger generations of speakers use, and they can help you to understand conversations better. Knowing these words is one way of feeling like a part of the community and culture. Slang includes such phrases as:
- Hang out
- For real
- Ride Shotgun
Overall, they can be fun to learn. Here is a link to study a few more slang terminologies.
Practice Accent Reduction
Lastly, practicing accent reduction can quickly help you become a better English speaker and improve your speaking confidence. How do you sound like an English speaker do? A big way to build confidence is to train on reducing your accent. It will make your speech easier to understand, and it will make you feel more like a native speaker.
Record yourself speaking some English. Then, compare it to a video of one of your favorite native English speakers. What sounds the same? What sounds different? Consciously practice adjusting your tone in order to match how your favorite speakers sound.
In addition, do research on the typical sounding accents of English learners from your country. Doing this will give you insight on which sounds you need to work on the most.
A great thing about accent training is that it provides fast results. So, you can quickly improve how you sound to yourself and others. It’s a great confidence builder.
In conclusion, you will rapidly improve your speaking, and confidence, if you practice the methods listed above. You’re already a great learner for coming as far as you have. These next steps are just another push to take you to a higher level. More importantly, it will make you feel more secure and confident in your level of English knowledge. The increase confidence you gain will only make you a more attractive speaker as well.
Good luck to you! Remember: become a better listener, study your hobbies, learn the lingo, and practice accent reduction. If you would like more assistance, please contact me. I offer courses to help you improve your English conversation and listening skills. My courses include all of the methods that I listed above. Schedule a lesson with me if you want guided assistance and feedback. Best wishes!