1. Forget about Grammar
Learning grammar of course is very important to improve your English, but when you are trying to practice speaking, it can be the biggest problem. The question you really need to ask is – why do we need to speak? We need to speak to communicate something. Try at all times to come from this point first, then later, analyse it grammatically (if you think you have to).
Fluency comes only form practice, practice and more practice, not from sitting and studying grammar books all day.
2. Learn to ‘Chunk’
One of the biggest mistakes ESL learners make when trying to build their speaking skills, is to try to learn new words. Actually the best thing to do is to learn ‘groups of words’ . Groups of words are call ‘chunks’. Here are some ‘chunks’ of words.
|e.g. television||watch television|
|moment||at the moment|
|e.g. encouragement||lots of encouragement|
|design||design a building|
|manager||speak to the manager|
|surrounded||Is surrounded by|
|e.g. appropriate||…not appropriate behavior…|
|introduce||…like to introduce to you…|
|manager||…speak to the manager…|
|isolation||…suffers isolation due to…|
|e.g. influential||…an influential person…|
|acrimonious||…an acrimonious relationship|
|divisive||…creating a divisive atmosphere…|
|stratosphere||…push into the stratosphere…|
3. Avoid translating
The sooner you learn to think in your own language the better. Translating everything you hear can be disastrous in terms of communicating as your language may not directly translate what you mean and the person you are talking to can be very confused by what you are saying. Again, learn to think in English as soon as possible.
4. Speaking is the only way to get better at speaking…
Yes I know easier said than done. But in all fairness, listening does come first. Listen to the sound of the language, allow yourself to become immersed in an English speaking environment, and you will be surprised how easy it soon becomes to start to speak what you have heard. When we speak we not only say what we mean, we also pick up all the other parts to it, like the stress, intonation and facial and body cues that go with it all. Fortunately we are all human around the world, and people tend to like to communicate the same kinds of things to each other, so we all have a head start, but what we also need to remember is that some cultures do use different physical and verbal clues when talking.
Let me know what you think is the No. 1 thing everyone needs to remember about getting better at speaking.
- Cultural differences, or are we really that different?
- Speaking and Listening
- Speaking and Ice Breaking Activities
- Do’s and Don’t for Teaching English Language Students