Many people have asked me about advices and suggestions on how to improve their English speaking skills. This is not an easy question to answer and it may take days to explain. However, here I will try my best to summarize in a few paragraphs to first get you guys started to take the first step toward improving your oral English!
The best way to learn to speak a language is to “Live the language”. What I mean to “Live the language” is to use it whenever possible, to open your mouth to speak up whenever you have the opportunity to do so. You may have heard that why so many students improve their speaking skills dramatically after they go studying abroad in other English speaking countries. Do you know why? Because they are living the language. There's an environment for them to speak at all time. Well, they have to otherwise they won't get anywhere without speaking the language, right? You probably will say, “of course, they are living in the English speaking countries, but most of us here are living in China, there're not many opportunities for us to speak.”
Ok, then what can we do about it? Just because there's not an environment then we just quit on it? Can it be an excuse for us not improving our oral English? The answer is we have to create the environment ourselves.
So how can we create the environment? Here are just some ideas for you to think about:
* Attend English Corner whenever there’s one near your area, use every opportunity to speak and communicate with others.
* Watch American drama series to imitate the intonation and rhythm of actors.
* Listen through recordings from books and read aloud in English at the same time.
Above are just few ideas that I throw at you to “Live the language” in order to improve your oral skills.
Anyway, the truth is that there's no shortcut to improve your oral skills, and it takes tremendous amount of time and effort. Based on my own experience and from the learning of other great instructors, the following are some ways that I believe will help you take the first step in improving your speaking skills, and hopefully you will speak more fluently with American accent :>)
(1) Practice and Listen
There's a saying that goes like this, “Practice Makes Perfect”- the more you practice, the better you get. This also applies to speaking skills. Practice and listen are the key, you can improve your pronunciation in only a few weeks, but for many people it takes longer. As you go through your days, listen to the melody of English. 【Here you can listen to VOA-Voice of America on your way to work; pay close attention to the sounds of native speakers】English has its own rhythm and flow, it goes up and it comes down. Master that and people will more easily understand you. Also listen to native speaker, imitate the way they speak.
(2) Open your mouth more
When you talk to native English speakers, you will notice how the movement patterns of their mouth muscle move quite a lot. This is a huge difference between Chinese speakers and native English speakers. Native speakers tend to open their mouth wider and much more than Chinese speakers. The rule of thumb is if your mouth feels too comfortable speaking English, you probably doing it wrong!!!
(3) Buy book on tape and listen to the recording from native speakers.
You can go to your favourite bookstore or online store to buy a book that you really enjoy reading on tape. Or you can just go online download recordings but make sure there’s also a text that comes with it. Be sure the persons reading on tape are native speakers, this is very important so you can hear their pronunciation. Listen and read out loud at the same time. You can also record yourself reading some sections of the books and compare the sound of your English with that of the speakers from the recordings.
(4) Read aloud in English
Make sure you read aloud in English for at least 15 minutes everyday! This will help strengthen the movement pattern of your mouth muscle that you use to produce intelligible English. It will also give you the chance to focus strictly on pronunciation without having to think about anything else. Just open your mouth, don’t worry about whether you pronounce the sounds wrong, just open your mouth to speak up, to get into the habit of speaking English everyday!
(5) Be patient
You can change the way you speak but it won't happen overnight, it will take time. I know some people expect instant results and they give up too soon. You can definitely change the way you sound but you must be willing to put some effort into it and you must give it time.
Well, above are some ways that I believe will guarantee you success in improving your spoken English. I suggest you can just pick one or two ways to start, to get into the habit of speaking first. Let's work together and improve everyday!
Sorry this maybe too long of a blog, thank you for those who take the time to read it through. I'd love to hear from you and you can also share with us about what you think are some of the best ways to improve the English speaking skills.