Many learners find themselves wondering how to improve English speaking skills at one point or another. Whether you’re new to English language learning or you’ve been studying for years, climbing to the next level often appears ridiculously difficult.
Mastering the ins and outs of English does take plenty of hard work, and frankly, most students don’t know where to start.
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed in your attempts to improve your English, learn what crucial mistakes to avoid on your journey to English fluency. By taking the right approach to your English studies, you could find yourself speaking like a native in no time.
1. You Force Yourself to Study
First things first, stop thinking about learning English like a job. Remember, this is supposed to be an enjoyable endeavour, not a nightmare. You can easily turn your studies into a challenge that keeps your brain stimulated and provides nonstop entertainment. That sounds a heck of a lot better than wasting long hours toiling over complicated grammatical concepts and verb conjugations, right?
Find what you’re passionate about and make English part of your daily experience. Stop stressing about speaking English perfectly, and instead focus on getting comfortable speaking, period. The sooner you say goodbye to the pressure of learning the language the better.
2. Textbooks Are Your Main Learning Tool
So, you’re ready to have more fun learning English. It’s time to kick those old English books to the curb. Sure, textbooks and grammar lessons have their place, but if your goal is to improve English speaking abilities quickly, you’ll have better luck immersing yourself in real world English.
In fact, many students ultimately discover the English they learn in the classroom doesn’t have much to do with the English they hear spoken by natives. Speech patterns often vary among native speakers, while common English slang and unique accents make things even trickier.
Why not learn English the right way from the very beginning by using the same books, movies, music and magazines that native speakers enjoy? Ironically, if you spend enough time devouring materials like these, you’ll learn the rules of English on your own. With time, you’ll start to recognize certain patterns and get more comfortable improvising when you speak.
Don’t throw the rulebooks out altogether, but stop making them the main focus of your studies. You may just surprise yourself by how much you manage to learn flying solo.
3. You Never Speak English Out Loud
Plenty of students wonder how to improve English speaking skills when they never actually speak the language out loud. There are plenty of great ways to learn English, from reading the newspaper to watching Hollywood movies…but remember, you have to talk if you want to become an English speaker.
If you’re spending all of your time listening to others, you’ll never progress outside of your comfort zone. Break out of this rut by making an effort to speak English regularly. Make friends you can chat with online or search out native speakers in your city. You can even try to have English conversations with yourself. Sure, it feels silly at first, but hey, sometimes you’ve simply got to do what it takes to succeed.
4. Fear Holds You Back
Are you afraid of making a fool of yourself? Plenty of English learners want to progress to the next level, but they don’t want others to judge their speaking capabilities. The only way to truly break out of this situation is to confront your fear head on. Practice speaking English and decide you don’t care what other people think.
Even better, ask your conversation partner to correct you when you make mistakes. You might feel uncomfortable having your weaknesses pointed out at first, but you’ll learn quickly as native speakers show you how and where you’re getting stuck.
5. You’re Not Expanding Your Vocabulary
Did you know the Oxford Dictionary includes 171,476 unique words currently in use in the English language? The average English speaker has a vocabulary of about 20,000 words, so you don’t need to memorise the whole thing, fortunately. Nevertheless, if you’re not continually stretching your vocab muscles, your speech is going to sound pretty boring and unnatural.
Learning new vocabulary words offers perhaps the simplest way to improve English speaking capabilities. Best of all, it’s not difficult. Simply pick up a book or watch a few video clips online—you’re bound to come across words you haven’t discovered before.
Of course, you’ll need to make an effort to remember the words you encounter. If you’re not already using a tool like Woodpecker to decipher complicated words in English video content, what are you waiting for? The app makes it easy to not only watch over 160,000 videos with translated subtitles, but it also saves new words you can review later. Pretty easy, right?
6. Immersion Isn’t Part of Your Daily Life
Millions of language learners understand the power of immersion firsthand; basically, if you’re thrown into an environment where people speak another language, your brain will rapidly work to decode what’s going on around you.
Many students try to take classes in an English-speaking country, as a way to totally submerge themselves in the spoken language. If you’ve got the chance to do that, fantastic! Immersion in a foreign country isn’t the only way to improve English speaking skills and get into tip-top shape, however.
Instead, you can make casual listening part of your language acquisition no matter where you live. Stream a popular radio station or turn on the English news while you make dinner. Listen to a podcast during your commute to and from school or work. You don’t need to devote 100% of your brain power to unraveling the complicated sentences. Instead, simply focus on pulling out the bits of information you understand and letting the rest go.
This technique is particularly useful if you find native English speakers often talk too quickly for you to understand. Of course, immersion also helps you deepen your understanding of how the language works, as you get more familiar with different accents and speaking patterns.
7. You’re Trying to Speed Ahead Too Quickly
There is absolutely no shame in being at the beginning stages of your English learning journey. We all have to start somewhere, after all.
Unfortunately, many language learners attempt to take a swim in deep waters when they haven’t learned the basics of English yet. You might want to be a scholar of English literature one day, but there is simply no sense in trying to get through one of Shakespeare’s greatest works at the moment. This approach will frustrate you and make you feel like you will never manage to reach fluency. You have to improve English speaking skills by tackling level-appropriate challenges.
Be honest with yourself about your current speaking capabilities and focus on climbing the ladder, rung by rung. First, get your conversational English skills in the bag. Then, you can focus on growing your vocabulary and exploring new concepts within the language.
8. Translation is Your Top Focus
When you first start learning English, it’s only natural to try to relate new ideas to your native language. You won’t improve your English speaking skills if you’re constantly focused on translating to and fro between two different languages.
Every language offers something unique and intriguing to learners and English is no exception. Many of the expressions, phrases, and ideas you’re familiar with in your native tongue may not even exist in English. If you’re constantly trying to go back and forth or looking for equivalents in English, you’ll quickly find yourself drowning in frustration.
It’s understandably confusing to learn that a foreign language has a completely different structure to your own, but that’s part of the joy of learning. Do your best to simply focus on learning how things work in English, instead of comparing and contrasting the rules with what you already know. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to take a break. Remember, your brain is just like any other muscle. Resting from time to time isn’t laziness, but an important part of growing stronger.
9. You’re Afraid to Mix Things Up
What’s it look like when you sit down to study English? Do you read the exact same newspaper every single day or spend long hours using the same memorisation techniques over and over again?
It’s perfectly okay to understand what works best for you, but you want to add new challenges and methods into your English learning to keep things interesting. When you train for a marathon, you combine your long runs with weight training and its best to run in different places frequently. This analogy works perfectly in a language learning context, too. You need to continually challenge yourself and add novely to your learning activities.
Keeping things fresh will inevitably help you improve English speaking skills more quickly, as you learn to navigate some challenging ideas and content with ease.
Ready to use some fresh content to improve English speaking skills? Jump into the Woodpecker app now!