7 tips to help improve your spoken English

 by Andrew 

Have you studied English for years? Do you know your grammar and vocabulary?  Can you follow and understand an English film (without subtitles)? Can you read and write in English?

 

If the answer to all these questions is “yes”, then congratulations, you are a passive user of English.

 

Now, can you speak English correctly, clearly and confidently?

 

Students often spend so much time on the theory that the practice gets overlooked. The only way to become a successful speaker is to practise, practise, practise!

 

Here are a few quick and easy tips to try:

 

  • Start off with something easy such as learning the words to your favourite song and singing along with the music. This will also help with rhythm and intonation.

 

  • Find an English speaker reading a passage from a book or a speech. Youtube is a great place to start your search. Listen carefully and try to copy their speed, stress, pauses and intonation.

 

  • Record yourself speaking. Once you get over the initial shock of how your voice sounds, use the recording as a benchmark for checking your progress.

 

  • Rather than trying to do everything at once when speaking, try concentrating on one aspect such as accuracy for five minutes. Get all your tenses correct, use the correct prepositions and structures. Afterwards concentrate on fluency for five minutes, making sure you keep the flow going, without worrying too much about making a few mistakes.

 

  • Take your time. Use fillers such as “errm” or “well….”  Speak more slowly if necessary. This will give you more thinking time to plan your sentences.

 

  • Learn some typical collocations to sound more natural.  Do English speakers say “fish and chips or chips and fish, peace and quiet or quiet and peace?” You can also learn phrases, rather than individual words.

 

  • You can also try thinking in English while going about your day. This will help by reducing your reaction time when it comes to formulating sentences. Talking to yourself (when you are alone) is also a great way of practising.

 

Finally, enjoy it and remember, it’s always better to try saying something than nothing at all.

 

 

 

 

Learning everyday English through vlogs

 by Andrew 

A few years ago students were actively encouraged to follow real life blogs in order to study and improve their English through reading. This was (and still is) a great way to learn new phrases and chunks of language, but what if there was something even more interesting? Well there is, welcome to the world of vlogs* .

 

Internet sites such as Youtube are full of channels devoted to vloggers. These, often young, people film their daily lives and upload a short video every day for their thousands or even millions of followers to watch.

 

The films actually have plenty of advantages and benefits for students learning English.

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  • Firstly, unlike a film or television program, they aren’t scripted or directed. This means that the language is completely natural and very rich in everyday conversational phrases, idioms and collocations. There may also be some regional accents or slang included. 
  • Secondly, they are short. An average film is around ten minutes long. That’s long enough for students to concentrate, yet not long enough to become boring. They also usually cover normal topics that the average viewer can relate to. Again great for picking up everyday conversational phrases and language. 
  • Another advantage is that because the viewer is normally getting a running commentary on the vlogger’s day, it is easier to work out what a word or phrase means. Take for example, “We’re gonna hop in the motor and go and fill ‘er up.” Which is then followed by a film of the vlogger getting in their car and driving to the petrol station to fill the tank with fuel. 
  • Vlogs also feel more personalised with the vlogger speaking directly at the camera. This is great for students as it can help with pronunciation, allowing the viewer to clearly see their mouth moving as they speak. 

Here is an example video from the English vlogger Rebeca Brown:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXAWjtDGfHU

So in conclusion, watching vlogs produced in a personalised and natural style can help you with your pronunciation and introduce you to new, natural and unscripted conversational language.

  *Definition: a video blog: a record of your thoughts, opinions, or experiences that you film and publish on the internet