What is the best learning method to be fluent in English? Focusing on grammar? Writing highly academic essays? Or trying to do extremely hard reading tests? The answer is absolutely none of those. Let’s think of the way you learned your native language, which skill did you learn first? That’s speaking skill. Learning English is the same. So before thinking of improving other skills, think of ways to develop your English speaking skill first.
But wait!!! You have learned English for years, you can be an expert at English grammar but you can’t still speak English fluently. So what’s your problem and what’s the best method to improve your spoken English. let’s scroll down and find out.
Identifying your problems
Getting to the root of your difficulties makes you know the right way to tackle your problems. Below are the 2 most common problems people usually suffer from while learning English speaking skill.
1 Special features of English
English is not a phonetic language
This must be the first problem on the list. As there is no rule to pronounce a letter, one letter can have thousands of ways to pronounce.
For example, the letter “i” can be pronounced:
– /ɪ/ in “intelligent” /ɪnˈtel.ɪ.dʒənt/
– /aɪ/ in “idea” /aɪˈdɪə/
– /ə/ in “miraculous” /məˈræk.jə.ləs/
But the hardest part is that this feature may contradict your language. Many languages are phonetic, which means that a letter is pronounced as the way it is written, such as Hindi, Vietnamese,…
English phonology is complicated
- Some sounds are hard to pronounce.
thing, month, think
judge, juice, jungle
share, shake, shout
chair, church, cheek
- Some sounds are not available in your languages. For example, the phoneme /ʒ/ as exemplified by the “s” in “pleasure” is missing in Hindi and so pronunciation of such words is difficult.
- Consonants clusters are also a special feature that differentiating English from other languages. In English, consonants clusters at the beginning or end of words are extremely common. This leads to errors in the pronunciation of words. A typical example is that an Indian would be likely to pronounce “straight” as “istraight”, “fly” as “faly”, “film” as “filam”.
- Stress is another matter for English learners to deal with. Maybe your teachers have already taught you several rules to mark the stress of a word, but there are so many exceptional words that do not follow those rules and when you put a word in a sentence, its stress may be even different. This confuses learner a lot while practicing speaking.
Ex: Compared to English, Hindi has weak but predictable word stress. Indian, therefore, has considerable difficulty with the irregular stress patterns of words. They tend to articulate all syllables, even weakly stressed ones which are usually “swallowed” while speaking like /ə/, /ɪ/, /əʊ/,…
2 Grammar-focused teaching program
There are so many schools following this program, even though this method will only help students to do grammar exercises. You have no or few chances to practice speaking at the class, so you have literally no idea to apply the “theory” you have learned into reality. You could be a master at grammar, but after all, you are still struggling to find the answer for the question: “What do I learn these grammars for?”
Methods to improve your English speaking skill at home
This blog will make you believe that practicing spoken English without attending a course is totally possible and even more effective if you have the right methods based on your problems
1 Stop translating
Is translating the only way to remember a word? Definitely not. It even makes your learning process slowlier. If you are a beginner, translating English to your mother tongue will take a lot of time because of the differences between the 2 languages. Take English and Hindi as an example. The standard word order in Hindi is “Subject-Object-Verb” while in English is “Subject-Verb-Object”. This will baffle Indian while being in an English conversation if they try to translate each English word into Indian and vice versa, making your speech unnatural and influent.
Instead of remembering a word by its spelling, you should imagine its image. This can help you remember a word easier and stop translating in your brain.
2 Don’t worry about mistakes
As a saying goes, “When there’s a will, there’s a way”. Don’t be afraid and keep your faith. There’s nothing on this planet earth is perfect and so are you. If you really want to be a fluent English speaker, just never stop learning. Making mistakes doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not good enough. Instead, it helps you to find out your problems and boosts you to develop yourself.
3 Learning on English speaking app
Is this possible to improve your English speaking skill while you have no partners, limited time and budget? The answer is yes. All you need is just a smartphone or a computer. Downloading an English learning app having all learning methods you are looking for to your phone/computer.
Let’s take a typical English learning app to have a vivid illustration – eJOY App
Firstly, you need to download eJOY App to your smartphone.
Now let’s see how this app could help you become a fluent English speaker with zero effort.
Listen to English native speakers
Listening is the easiest way to get familiar with English accent, expression, pronunciation, vocabulary… With this app, you can practice listening and learn vocabulary in a real-life context with 50,000+ captioned videos at different levels and topics.
You will listen to how foreigner speaks English, how they link sounds, how their intonation is, how they talk in formal and informal occasions, etc. Don’t worry if you don’t know what they are saying because the caption is always available on the screen helping you to keep track of the speech
Always check the pronunciation of words
What should you do to look up the pronunciation? Open a dictionary? No. All you need to do is tap on the word and you will immediately see its meaning and phonetic transcription. If you don’t know how to pronounce it, tap/ click on the volume icon and you will hear the pronunciation of not only the word but also of each consonant and vowel. (Xanax bars)
If you find a new word interesting or important, you can “Add” it to the word book for further practice
Practice speaking in a sentence
Your task here is to listen to a standard pronunciation of the sentence containing the new word then repeat it. The app will mark you with powerful speech analysis tech and you will know how correct your pronunciation is. If your mark is 100%, you can be confident that your pronunciation is excellent. If the mark is not “perfect”, don’t worry, the app will show your pronunciation mistakes.
Besides speaking game, you can play other games such as flashcards, multiple choices, matching, fill in the blank, word constructor to revise your vocabulary
Learning is a process, a matter of commitment and determination. Maybe today you mispronounce a word, but tomorrow will be better. If you have the right learning methods and good faith, achieving a higher level of English speaking skill is just a matter of time. Wish you the best of luck!