To speak English, you don’t require academic knowledge of the language. You don’t need to go to a teacher; your surroundings can help you practice and improve your speaking skills.
In this post. I’ll share the 20 most effective ways to practice English so that you can self-learn how to speak.
#1 Think in English
Does it sound superficial for you to be able to think in English? Or do you think it’s not possible? It is possible to train your brain to think in English. Well! You can obviously think in English through regular practice and following some strategies.
ESL learners, while talking, usually think in their native language and then translate it to English. This translation method significantly affects their fluency. Let’s see what happens when someone translates during a conversation.
Step 1: You receive in English
Step 2: You translate them to understand
Step 3: You think or prepare your response in your native language
Step 4: You translate it from native to English
Step 5: You deliver it.
Don’t you find this process affects your fluency? So, to avoid these steps and improve your fluency, you must practice thinking in English. Follow the link to learn some tips on how to think in English.
#2 Be a Partner of Yourself
To practice speaking, you must need a partner. If the partner is someone you talk to most, there is nothing better than that.
So, who is the person you talk to most? It’s, of course, you. So, talking to yourself in English can benefit you more than other strategies of speaking practice. You certainly should practice with others, but I recommend simultaneously practicing with yourself. There are so many good reasons why you should practice talking to yourself.
Many ESL students feel shy to talk to others because they lack English competence. As you don’t feel nervous or afraid talking to yourself, you can be the best speaking partner of yourself. There is no convenient and flexible way compared to speak to yourself. For example, you can talk to yourself while cooking, showering, or combing your hair.
#3 Learn & Practice Online
Online platforms are excellent sources of learning materials. It allows you to learn and practice at your convenient time. However, if you go to a language learning center, you must follow their schedule. Many ESl students, especially those who do jobs, may be unable to match the schedule given by the centers. For them, online learning is beneficial.
Nowadays, there are so many online sources that can help you to practice English. There are many authentic websites, such as British Council, where you can practice and improve your speaking skills. You can pick your level and practice speaking for different real-life situations.
Another good source is Headway Student’s Site, where you can find many learning resources to practice and evaluate your progress. You can also learn different situational expressions from the speaking category of this site and practice using them in real-life situations.
#4 Focus on Fluency, not Grammar
I can see many of my spoken English students are very much concerned about grammar. However, most ESL learners can’t be successful in learning English just because they fall into the labyrinth of grammar.
Remember! Fluency matters, but grammar does not. Yes, it is true. Don’t wonder. Do you speak your native language, thinking about all grammatical rules and structures? No one does. That proves that for speaking, what you need is fluency to communicate. You will still be understood most of the time, even if you make some grammatical mistakes. Once you develop your fluency, you can take care of Grammar.
Grammar is a vast critical area of a language. However, if you want to become just a language user, you should not be bothered about grammar. But yes, if you want to be a language expert or become an advanced user of English, you must know about grammar.
#5 Repeat and Learn
Repetition drills can significantly help you to improve your speaking. Therefore, I always suggest my students do the same thing repeatedly and master the skill. Until you don’t sound confident and be sure that you have mastered any particular way of speaking, keep practicing repeatedly.
For example, you can try to mimic while watching tv shows, movies, YouTube videos, or listening to music. Repeat as you hear. Copy everything, including tone, speed, pronunciation, and even the accent, as much as possible.
#6 Practice in Front of the Mirror
Practicing English speaking in front of the mirror can effectively improve your pronunciation, body language, and presentation skills. There can be many ways to practice in front of a mirror.
For example, you can take a topic and talk about it continuously in front of the mirror for 2-5 minutes. You will be able to see yourself talking, which will boost your confidence and help you stay motivated.
Another thing you can do is engage in an imaginary conversation. While in front of a mirror, consider your image someone else and let the image ask you some questions, and you answer them. Do it regularly, varying different topics.
#7 Describe Your Surrounding Aloud
Learning and practicing through your surroundings is one of the great ways for successful self-learning. For example, to improve your speaking skill, you may describe people or things around you in English aloud whenever possible.
Suppose you are in a place where you cannot speak loudly; in that case, speak in your mind. For example, if you are standing at a bus stop, you can describe someone standing beside you or can describe the bus within your mind.
This type of practice through real-life elements and people can significantly help you to improve your speaking skills.
#8 Narrate Your Activities In English
Narrating aloud what you see and what you do can be a great way to practice speaking. For example, suppose you have returned home from the office. Try narrating the journey, what you have seen on the way, and anything you want to discuss.
Likewise, you can narrate your daily routine too. You can either describe what you will do today or what you already have done throughout the day. Before you go to sleep, you can narrate the whole day aloud or within your mind. However, I would suggest you do the narration aloud.
#9 Practice Speaking through Reading
Reading books, newspapers, and magazines aloud can help you to practice speaking too. If you read any text aloud, the organs involved in speech production can cope with the English words. However, as English is your second language, the speech organs may not be ready to produce English speech correctly, especially regarding pronunciation.
So, by reading aloud, you can develop your speaking and pronunciation simultaneously.
#10 Try Some English Tongue Twisters
English tongue twisters are some interesting phrases designed to be challenging to articulate correctly. With regular tongue-twisting exercises, you can improve both pronunciation and fluency. You can find some examples of tongue twisters here.
#11 Talk to Smart Devices
Talking to your smart devices, such as a laptop, cellphone, television, home gadgets, etc., can be an excellent way to practice English speaking. For example, you can ask your google assistant to search for something with a voice command other than typing it on google.
You can also have fun talking with some AI voices. You can ask them anything you want to know. You can greet them, ask them to crack a joke, or tell you a story.
Even instead of typing for searching something on YouTube, you can try the voice search option. Even whenever you are alone, you can talk to those assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Samsung Bixby, etc.
#12 Listen to Your Own Voice
Recording your voice and listening to it can help you improve your speaking skills in a fun way. For example, you may pick a topic you are interested in and speak for a certain period. Then, record it and hear it.
While listening, you can find most of the mistakes by yourself. Note them and try to correct them while you speak again on the same topic. Keep doing this every day. You will surely find
#13 Make Videos of Your Performance
If you are interested in acting, you can make videos of your performance in any of your favorite English movie scenes. Of course, it would help if you tried copying how the actors in that scene pronounced the words.
#14 Commentate on Sports
Listen to the commentators commentating on sports and try to learn how they talk. It can help you to learn how to describe an event. Then, mute the audio and try to mimic the commentator. It can be an excellent way to practice speaking.
You can also do the same thing while you watch live sports. Just keep the volume muted and do commentate on your n way. Keep doing this for a few days, and you will see your development.
#15 Use Social Media & Messaging Apps to Practice Speaking
Social media has become part and parcel of our daily lives. We usually use social media for entertainment. However, many of us also use social media & messaging apps for academic and professional purposes. For example, we can practice writing and speaking English through social media.
For example, while using messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Messenger for texting, rather than just sending typed messages, send audio and video messages too. Continue the conversation with a blending of all types of texts. Sending audio and video messages can help you improve your speaking skills.
#16 Join English Forums & Social Media Groups
You can also try some language exchange programs available in your locality or online. It can help you connect with people who are also interested in improving their English language skills.
#17 Try Some Memorization
Memorization can sometimes help you to improve your speaking skills, especially fluency. For example, find out your favorite song, memorize it and sing it, focusing on pronunciation and tone.
Likewise, you can also memorize some poems, famous speeches, monologues, quotes, etc., and recite them repeatedly. You will see visible improvements in a short time.
#18 Talk to Any Customer Care Agent in English
While calling any customer care executive or agent, select English as your language. For example, suppose you are in Bangladesh and have contacted a bank’s hotline number. They will ask you whether you want to talk in Bengali or English. Select English and continue the conversation. It can give you an experience of real-life contextual use of English.
Likewise, if you call a restaurant’s hotline to order food, use English if possible. Try to do it every time you have the opportunity to talk to someone in English.
#19 Learn the IPA
Once you develop the basics of English speaking, I suggest you learn the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) to understand the differences between English letters and sounds. For example, you will be able to know how and why there are only 26 letters but 44 sounds in English.
If you learn those symbols, you will be able to know how English sounds work. In addition, it will significantly help you to improve your pronunciation.
#20 Practice at Ease & Comfort
I always believe that learning should be fun. I also believe that anyone can learn anything if guided well. So, look for a proper guideline first and then act accordingly.
Don’t stress yourself too much. Practice speaking at ease and comfort. Make it fun as much as possible and practice at your flexible time and place.
Are you looking for a book or a guide to help you learn and improve your English? You may try English Made Easy Volume One: A New ESL Approach: Learning English Through Pictures (Amazon Link).
Consistency in practice is very important if you want to master any skill. Only regular exercise can help you improve your English speaking and pronunciation.
I have talked about different ways of practicing speaking English. Try to follow them and make it a regular activity.