In this age of global integration, English is indispensable to everyone for the purpose of effective communication, notably students who are the future of the world. Lamentably, a vast majority of students at school are only taught writing, listening, reading, and, on a rare basis, speaking. Indeed, their speaking skills are assessed on neither mid-term nor final exams because the school is understaffed or devoid of facilities. This shortcoming of English education at school makes it impossible for students to practice communicating in English, leading to their puzzlement when they are in a dialogue with foreigners. For example, when they are asked by tourists to show the way to the nearest cinema, they find themselves at a loss for words or the visitors cannot understand their instructions. Well, if you have been in such circumstances previous times and are struggling to find an exit, then you are lucky because you will find out some efficacious methods below that assist you to speak better as long as you stick to them.
1.Talk to yourself
This is a low-pressure yet useful way to make you fluent in speaking after several weeks of utilizing. When you talk to yourself, no one can hear you and find fault with your mistakes, so feel free to express your thoughts and ideas. You can also carry this out with the help of a mirror. Spend only 3 to 5 minutes every day standing in front of the mirror to practice talking about whatever topic you can think of. There is no need for you to talk about politics, gender equality, or issues of great importance; instead, you can talk about your hobbies or the weather. If you do not know how to express your ideas, try not to stop and switch to another aspect of the topic. After finishing the chat with yourself, look up for the words that made you stuck so that they will come in handy someday. Once you begin to grasp the basics, your translation from your mother tongue to English will be much faster and easier, thus making you more fluent and confident when communicating in English.
2.Focus on fluency, not grammar or vocabulary
One of the main reasons that make students unable to speak fluently is their fixation on superb vocabulary or 100% correct grammar. People tend to think that using difficult or rare words make a good impression on foreigners, but this is only correct to a certain extent. If you force yourself to think of advanced vocabulary and trip over words time and again, your partners will think that you are ostentatious rather than impressive as fluency should be everyone’s top concern in conversations. Indeed, in such competitions as National English Competition or Debate Competition, fluency accounts for more points than the use of words. Also, it is not out of the ordinary if you make some small mistakes like “He don’t like …” or “She go to school …” because it does not affect the extent to which others understand you. It is great if you are endowed with a flair for speaking English fluently and are capable of using difficult words naturally, but if you are not, it is OK to use simple words and structures, as long as others find it explicit and pleasant to hear.
3.Listen and repeat
In this era of technology, it has never been so easy to get access to the Internet and online materials. With a smartphone or computer connected to the Internet, you are ready to see great improvements in your speaking skills. Multitudes of movies or shows with subtitles are available on YouTube, making it convenient for you to watch these videos even when you are offline if they are already downloaded. When you listen to English on a regular basis, you are gradually getting accustomed to the rhythms, intonation, and speed, and you can try to imitate the sounds and even the accent. Also, you may come across some collocations and natural expressions, and once you practice enough, they will become a reflex response and make you sound like a native speaker, a goal that every English speaker strives for.
4.Make use of free apps
You see a lot of your friends going to English centers and have their speaking skills considerably upgraded as a result of their increasing chances to talk with teachers from English speaking countries. However, you can also stand a chance of enhancing your speaking skills not at your expense by taking advantage of Siri or Google on your phone. They are both search engines (Siri has some more properties) with which users can look up information with their voices. They were founded and developed by Apple, so in order to search what you want, you have to pronounce correctly. It means that you have to read the ending sound, stress the syllables, and have the right intonation. So if the results are not relevant to what you want, it is synonymous with your mistakes in pronunciation and the need for practice. You can look up the words you mispronounce and imitate the sounds until yours and the example are similar. By the time, Siri and Google must be able to understand you without your bothering to use the keyboard. On top of that, you can still practice by talking to Siri and demand it to set the alarm, call your friends, find an interesting game for you to play, etc. This helps you to “kill two birds with one stone”, improving your pronunciation while letting your hair down after a long day with your study.
The methods mentioned above helped my friends and me a lot in learning English, and I hope that by virtue of them, you will become a formidable opponent in your peers’ eyes when it comes to speaking English. “Practice makes perfect”, and you are progressing day after day without your awareness, so do not get cold feet if you are tired because your efforts will definitely pay off.