Have you ever tried to spontaneously interact with a native speaker, only to find you couldn’t clearly communicate? Many learners struggle to develop adequate English conversational skills. Mastering verb tenses and learning new vocabulary words is one thing, but putting that knowledge to use in real world situations often proves challenging. What’s an English learner to do?
In a perfect world, you’d have the opportunity to interact with English speakers every single day. After all, without speaking with other people, it’s incredibly difficult to become comfortable holding conversations.
Fortunately, while nothing can truly replace one-on-one interactions, there is one powerful resource you have at your fingertips for improving your conversational skills in English: video content. Armed with little more than an internet connection, you have the ability to target your weaknesses and become a masterful English speaker.
Ready to get started? First, let’s identify the right approach for building your English conversational skills.
How to Get Started Building English Conversational Skills
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to use videos to build on your English conversational skills, it’s important to take stock of your current speaking abilities and develop a plan of action for moving to the next level.
Follow the three steps below to position yourself to use online videos to become a better English speaker.
1. Assess Your Current Level
So, you understand you want to progress, but you’re not quite certain where to start. It’s important to start with a frank assessment of how well you currently speak English. In particular, what challenges are the hardest for you when you chat with others?
It’s actually quite easy to determine where you need to improve. Find an English speaker and give things a go. Pay attention to where things go wrong during the course of a normal conversation. Are you struggling to find the right vocabulary words? Are your nerves getting the best of you? Do you have difficulty understanding what people say to you or struggle with different English accents?
You can easily fix all of these problems with the right footwork, but it’s essential to identify what needs improvement. Then, you can build a blueprint for tackling those challenges, one by one.
2. Set the Right Pace
Immersion often helps new learners quickly gets a grasp on the ins and outs of English. That being said, if you want to specifically focus on getting comfortable speaking English, don’t try to take things too fast. This leaves you frustrated and overwhelmed, neither of which is helpful in your studies.
For example, have you ever tried to follow a movie and found yourself lost? The characters speak too quickly, use English slang you don’t know yet, and talk about complicated subject matters. If you’re at a beginning stage of your language studies, it’s too much, too fast.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for students to feel totally comfortable in the classroom, only to struggle when listening to native speakers converse. Why? It’s simple!
Your brain needs time to pick up new skills and build on your existing knowledge. You wouldn’t drive a car onto a busy road without first learning how to steer your wheel, right? Think of learning a language in the same way. In order to build stronger English conversational skills, you want to build the right foundational knowledge of the language.
3. Supplement with the Right Resources
Motivated English students often seek out new learning materials on their own; this is fantastic! Without the right structure in place for your studies, however, you might find you’re only treading water. In other words, you’re not stretching yourself or moving forward.
Consider using online videos in conjunction with digital lesson plans or instead purchase English learning curriculum to push yourself in the right direction. Ideally, you should learn how to speak English by studying both the written and the spoken word. Not only does this approach make you a more well-rounded speaker, but it also allows you to get the most out of your efforts to boost your conversational skills.
Finding and Using Videos to Learn English
Okay, so you’ve done the preliminary work and you’re ready to start working on those English conversational skills. Let’s explore how to find the right video content for your language learning journey and what to do with the materials once you locate the right ones.
First, Choose the Right Videos
To make better progress, it’s important to identify the things you find interesting and incorporate those into your language learning routine. This should help you stay the course and not become bored with your studies.
Whether you’re a diehard sports fan, a musical theater geek, or a big moviegoer, the online world is full of plenty of great videos to explore. Of course, it’s rarely as simple as doing a YouTube search and hoping for the best. For conversational purposes, it’s important to locate videos you’ll be able to understand and hold onto for later.
We may be a bit biased, but the Woodpecker app is an incredible resource for finding great videos to enjoy. With a growing library of 400 different channels and over 160,000 unique videos, you’ll find nonstop options that allow you to quickly grow your skill set. Plus, the app allows you to use multiple subtitle streams simultaneously. In other words, you can follow videos in both English and your native language, without any extra work.Learn more about the app’s features here.
How to Use Content the Right Way
Whether you’re specifically using teaching videos to improve your English conversational skills or you’re checking out pop culture clips, you’ll want to be intentional. Remember, yes, videos are great fun…but you’re also studying! Make some quiet time in your day to focus your attention on the video at hand.
Many YouTube English teachers offer actual lesson practice sessions you can use to get familiar with specific scenarios. While you watch these, the teacher guides you through different exercises and asks you to assess your progress along the way. Such videos offer a great starting point for mastering the art of conversation.
You can also find videos that feature real life conversations between friends and use these to get more familiar with speaking the language. BuzzFeed videos work well for this exercise:
- First, find a video with two people speaking to one another. Make sure your subtitles are turned on if you’re having trouble understanding.
- Listen to the first person speak and pause when they finish their sentence. Have you understood what the individual said? Formulate your own response.
- Resume the video and see how your answer compares with the person on the video. Did you share similar ideas?
It might be a little cheesy, but this exercise helps you familiarize yourself with everyday conversations. Don’t hesitate to take notes and feel free to pause and stop multiple times if you’re having trouble following along.
Lock in Your New Skills
After you’ve watched a video on English conversational skills, take a few minutes to commit your new knowledge to memory. If you’re using Woodpecker, you can easily get definitions for words as you watch the video; simply click any unknown word for a dictionary definition. Even better, the world is automatically saved for review after the clip.
Whether you save new words this way or note them physically on paper, it’s important to review them later. Flash cards are a great standby for making sure you remember your new words. Create digital flash cards you can flip through on your phone, or keep it old school with a stack of paper cards. You can also create vocabulary games for yourself or get really advanced and make yourself write sentences using your new vocab. Regardless of which approach you feel works best for you, it’s important to find a routine you will stick to as you progress.
Rewatching a video is also a great way to make you’ve gleaned everything possible from the content. You might be surprised to discover you missed certain words or ideas on your first watch!
Ready, Set, Go!
Perhaps the best thing about using online videos to build on your English conversational skills is it’s so easy to get started. Do your best to make conversation work part of your everyday routine, and you’ll likely astound yourself with just how quickly you manage to progress.
And remember, practice makes perfect. Mastering the English language is said to take up to 360 hours of study. Try to make working on your conversations a piece of your everyday life and you’ll chip away minute by minute until you’re comfortable in virtually all conversational situations.
Looking for more English conversational videos? Check out videos from engVid, one of the channels from our Woodpecker app!