There is no doubt that the English language is pretty complicated. Though in terms of grammar, it is relatively more straightforward than many languages around the world, but when it comes to pronunciation, many find themselves stumbling.
After years of carefully studying this language, you would have expected your conversations to become effortless, but it’s possible that many still do not understand what you are trying to say.
Some of this might be due to the presence of a heavy accent, the difference in the speed of your speech or even incorrect pronunciation. If you feel like your English-speaking skills are not up to par, here are some tips to follow.
Speak whenever you can
You know what they say: Practice makes perfect. Even if you have an extensive understanding of the way sentences are formed and words are spelled, you might not feel as confident while speaking.
Like any other time that you are learning a new skill, you must communicate regularly to improve your abilities and fix any issues. If there are English-speaking members in your family, try to communicate with them only via English. When you go outside, use the language whenever possible. If people cannot understand you, try figuring out where you might have gone wrong and practice more.
Additionally, you can also speak aloud to yourself when no one is around. If a thought crosses your head in your native language, say it out loud in English and check if you used all the right words and if you pronounced them correctly.
Learn new words
Make it a habit to learn a few words each day. Remember to memorize the way they are spelled, pronounced and used in sentences. Try constructing several sentences in which the words seem appropriate and say them aloud. If you keep this up, your vocabulary will increase considerably, and you will be more confident while holding conversations with others.
Check your pronunciation
English pronunciation can be a bit confusing, so you must continuously re-check the way you pronounce words that seem a bit difficult. If people cannot understand what you say no matter how many times you repeat yourself, you will have to go home, research and refine your pronunciation. At first, you might have to consciously change how you pronounce certain words every time you speak, but with practice, you will soon be speaking them effortlessly.
There are many YouTube videos and podcasts that help you master words that are slightly difficult or confusing to pronounce. Keep saying these words out loud until they naturally roll off your tongue.
Pay attention to native speakers.
Listening to and copying native speakers of the English language is an effective way to both reduce your accent and to improve your pronunciation. To do this, play your favorite English movies, interviews or podcasts and pause after they utter each sentence. Repeat the sentence several times and try to say it exactly the way they did. You might not quickly develop the accent of a native English speaker, but your pronunciation will improve, making it much easier to understand you.
Learn and understand how English is spoken
Like most other languages, English is not spoken the way it is written. No, this isn’t about the pronunciation of individual words. Rather, English speakers contract several words and make their sentences sound much more natural and effortless. The use of contractions such as “you’re,” “won’t,” “didn’t,” etc. will help you sound better while you speak and enable others to understand you more.
Besides learning contractions, you must also pay careful attention to the way English speakers stress each part of a word or sentence. Once you start listening, you will recognize certain rhythmic patterns that native speakers follow while speaking. All of these seemingly unimportant aspects will help you sound better and more fluent.
Setting up small challenges for yourself is a fantastic way to better your speaking skills. You could, for instance, keep a diary in which you enter all your thoughts in English. As you become faster at writing down your thoughts, you will also start thinking in English. Once your thoughts occur in this language, it will be much easier for you to create sentences while communicating.
If you want to challenge yourself a bit more, you could try retelling a story from your community or region in English. This might turn out to be difficult since you will have to find the English alternatives to many terms that are not used commonly. First try speaking out this translated story, then write it down and check if your version conveys its essence and the true meaning.
People often find it challenging to communicate with others via the phone since they can’t read facial cues. Introduce this as a challenge for yourself and hold phone conversations in English with people you know. Once you grow comfortable with this activity, you can start using phone calls to carry out inquiries and make appointments in English.
Recording yourself might feel like an unnecessary step, but it will help you analyze the way you speak and recognize errors much easier. You will happen upon things you might have missed while you spoke. Even better, you will realize that you are much more proficient in the language than you previously assumed.
Becoming a proficient English speaker is not something that can happen overnight. You need lots of patience and practice to reach your desired English-speaking skill level. Once you turn into a fluent speaker of the language, the number of opportunities before you will increase enormously.