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How to Speak English

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Most English learning boils down to the question of how to speak English. There are other goals as well, but learning how to speak English will help you communicate with others, and lead to better test scores on the TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS, Cambridge and other exams. In order to know how to speak English, you need to have a plan. This guide on how to speak English provides an outline that you can follow to learn to speak English. If you already speak English, this guide will help you more quickly improve your English speaking skills.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: From Six Months to Three Years

Here's How:

  1. Discover Which Type Of English Learner You Are

    When learning how to speak English you first need to find out what type of English learner you are. Ask yourself questions such as Why do I want to speak English? Do I need to speak English for my job? Do I want to speak English for travel and hobbies, or do I have something more serious in mind? Here is an excellent worksheet "What Type of English Learner?" to help you find out.

  2. Understand Your Goals

    Once you know what type of English learner you are, you can begin to better understand your goals. Once you know your goals, you'll better understand what you need to do to speak English well. This is similar to understanding what type learner you are. Write down a list of the things you would like to do with your English. Would you like to speak English fluently in two years? Would you like to have enough English to travel and order food in a restaurant? Understanding exactly what you want to do with English will help you learn how to speak English because you will work towards your goals.

  3. Find Out Your Level

    Before you begin to learn how to speak English, you'll need to know where to begin. Taking a level test can help you understand what level you are at and then you can start using resources appropriate for your level in order to learn how to speak English well. Of course, you'll not only learn how to speak English, but also how to read, write and use English in a variety of settings. These quizzes will help you find your level. Start with the beginning level test and then move on. Stop when you get less than 60% and begin at that level.

    Beginning Test
    Intermediate Test
    Advanced Test

  4. Decide On Learning Strategy

    Now that you understand your English learning goals, style and level it's time to decide on an English learning strategy. The simple answer to the question of how to speak English is that you need to speak it as often as possible. Of course, it's more difficult than that. Start off by deciding which type of learning strategy you will take. Do you want to study alone? Do you want to take a class? How much time do you have to dedicate to English study? How much are you willing to pay to learn to speak English? Answer these questions and you will understand your strategy.

  5. Put Together A Plan For Learning Grammar

    If you want to know how to speak English, you'll also have to know how to use English grammar. Here are my five top tips on how to speak English with good grammar.

    • Learn grammar from context. Do exercises that have you identify tenses and from within a short reading or listening selection.
    • When learning how to speak English you need to use your muscles. Read your grammar exercises aloud which will help you learn to use correct grammar when speaking.
    • Don't do too much grammar! Understanding grammar doesn't mean you speak. Balance grammar with other English learning tasks.
    • Do ten minutes of grammar each day. It's better to only do a little every day than a lot once a week.
    • Use self-study resources at this site. There are lots of grammar resources you can use here on the site to help you improve.

  6. Put Together A Plan For Learning Speaking Skills

    If you want to know how to speak English, you'll have to have a plan for speaking English every day. Here are my top five tips to make sure you speak - not just study - English every day.

    • Do all exercises using your voice. Grammar exercises, reading exercises, everything should be read aloud.
    • Speak to yourself. Don't worry about someone hearing you. Speak out loud in English to yourself often.
    • Choose a topic each day and speak for one minute about that topic.
    • Use online exercises and speak in English using Skype or other programs. Here's some practice English speaking sheets to get you started.
    • Make lots of mistakes! Don't worry about mistakes, make many and make them often.

  7. Put Together A Plan For Learning Vocabulary

    To make sure you know how to speak English about a wide range of topics you'll need plenty of vocabulary. Here are some suggestions and resources to get you started.

    • Make vocabulary trees. Vocabulary trees and other fun exercises can help you group vocabulary together for faster learning.
    • Keep track of new vocabulary you've learned in a folder.
    • Use visual dictionaries to help you learn more vocabulary faster.
    • Choose to learn vocabulary about subjects you like. There's no need to study vocabulary that doesn't interest you.
    • Study a little bit of vocabulary every day. Try to learn just two or three new words / expressions every day.

  8. Put Together A Plan For Learning Reading / Writing

    If you want to learn how to speak English, you may not be too concerned with reading and writing. Still, it's a good idea to learn how to read and write in English, as well as learn how to speak English.

    • Remember to use your own native language reading skills. You don't need to understand every single word.
    • Practice writing short texts on blogs or for comments at popular English learning web sites. People expect errors at these sites and you'll feel very welcome.
    • Read for pleasure in English. Choose a subject you like and read about it.
    • Don't translate directly from your own language when writing. Keep it simple.

  9. Put Together A Plan For Learning Pronunciation

    Learning how to speak English also means learning how to pronounce English.

    • Learn about the music of English and how it can help with English pronunciation skills.
    • Find out about typical pronunciation mistakes people speaking your native tongue make.
    • Consider using a pronunciation program to help you learn better pronunciation through practice.
    • Get a dictionary that has good phonetic transcriptions to help you understand the sounds of English.
    • Use your mouth! Speak out loud every day the more you practice the better your pronunciation will become.

  10. Create Opportunities To Speak English

    Using English as often as possible is the key to learning how to speak English well. Join English learning communities online such as iTalki to practice speaking English with others with Skype. Join local clubs that focus on speaking English, speak to tourists and give them a helping hand. If you have friends who are learning to speak English, set aside 30 minutes every day to speak English together. Be creative and create as many opportunities as possible to speak English.

Tips:

  1. Be patient with yourself. It takes a while to learn how to speak English well. Remember to give yourself time and treat yourself well.
  2. Do everything everyday, but only do ten to fifteen minutes of the more boring tasks. If you want to improve listening skills, just listen to the radio fifteen minutes rather than an hour. Do ten minutes of grammar exercises. Never do too much English. It's better to do just a little bit every day rather than a lot only twice a week.
  3. Make mistakes, make more mistakes and continue to make mistakes. The only way you will learn is by making mistakes, feel free to make them and make them often.
  4. Learn how to speak English about the things you like doing. If you enjoy speaking about the topic, it will be much easier for you to learn how to speak English well in a shorter amount of time.

What You Need

  • Patience
  • Time
  • Willingness to make mistakes
  • Friends who can speak English with you
  • Books or internet resources in English

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