If you’re one of the many people out there that is trying to improve their English in a non-English speaking country then you probably have the issue of not being able to practice speaking. Today I’m going to give you a few tips that will help you continue to improve your speaking skills even without someone to talk to.
Tip #1: Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
There are a lot of different ways that you can practice your speaking skills. It’s always best to do it in front of a person. Usually there is always someone that you can talk to. I even hear people who live in America say they don’t have anyone to practice with…..I mean seriously come on. The real problem is that you don’t want to get out of your comport zone. If you live in America or another English speaking country or any country where English speakers live or travel, you can practice with a person.
Don’t be so shy (I know easier said than done). There are places that native speakers frequent, and are willing to have a quick conversation. I have 2-3 minute conversations with strangers all the time. When you talk to a stranger they are not going to correct you, or tell you how to improve your skills, but they are someone that you can learn from. You might pick up a new phrase or learn a new vocabulary word. You will definitely be able to pick up on native phrasing (the way that we put sentences together or use words).
If you live in an English speaking country you can meet native speakers pretty much everywhere you buy something. Start a conversation with someone when getting coffee or while you’re at the grocery store. Ask them how their day is going. Talk about the weather. Ask them if they have kids or if they’re in school. There are so many ways you can start a conversation. And you can keep talking to the same people and expand the conversation by continuing to frequent the same places.
If you live in a country where English is not the native language go to a tourist site. You’ll be able to find lots of English speaking tourist there. Some of them will need directions. Instead of just giving them directions and sending them on their way, walk with them a little bit (especially if what they are looking for is close by). Ask them where they are from. Ask them what they most look forward to doing while they are in your country, and what they think the biggest difference is between their country and yours. If there’s a tourist spot you think they should see, tell them about it. Tell them why you think it’s so great. It may only be for a few minutes, but it’s practice. And you can do it repeatedly.
Whether you’re in an English speaking county or not, a great rouse is to tell them you’re doing a project for your English class and you have to ask a native speaker three questions. Most people will give you a few minutes for this. If you approach five people I can almost guarantee you three of them will say yes. Don’t just ask them questions, give them answers too.
Talking to a native speaker in person is the best case scenario, but if you live in a non- native speaking country in a place where there are no tourist attractions, there are sill things you can do. Do you have a friend who is trying to learn English too? Practice with them. No, that’s not as great as a native speaker, but it can still help you try out new words and phrases. You can also find a language partner online. Just type language partner in any search engine and a ton of choices will come up. I’ll admit, there are more people wanting to practice English than people wanting to help. However, you can make yourself stand out by saying a little about yourself and by making sure that you’re offering an even exchange that they will actually want.
You can also join my English club and practice with me, so you really don’t have an excuse.
Tip #2: Listen to Native Speakers And Mimic Them Like An Annoying Sibling
This one is easy. There are a million places where you can listen to English; TV, podcast, youtube, TED Talks (my favorite). Sooo many options. Choose one of them where you can get English subtitles or a transcript. Now this is what you should do. First, listen to whatever you have chosen. No subtitles in any language, that’s cheating. You’re going to mimic a conversation and you wouldn’t have subtitles in a conversation. It doesn’t matter how long the audio is, and it doesn’t matter if you get to the end. Just start with five minutes.
Now that you’ve diligently listened to it once, it’s time to be that annoying sibling. I’m an only child, but I have enough friends with siblings to know that at some point one of the siblings will just start repeating everything their brother or sister says. Everything. And it’s really annoying. That’s what you’re going to do. Take the audio that you chose and play a sentence of it, and then stop and say out loud whatever is said. Keep doing this until you get through at least five minutes.
This will improve your listening skills and your pronunciation. It will also also help your phrasing. Since you’re mimicking a native speaker, you’re going to start forming sentences like them. You’ll also get to see some vocabulary in action. Chances are you’ll encounter a word or two you don’t know. You should look those words up, and you already have an example of how native speakers use them.
Tip #3: Read Stuff
Read blogs. I say to read blogs specifically and not books because books are usually written about a story in a certain time period with characters from a certain region. They may not speak like most native speakers. Therefore books are awesome and you should read them, but blogs are better for practicing your English. Blogs tend to be written in the way that people speak. Plus you can pick whatever topic you’re in to. You can just type in a search engine, blogs about _____, and you’ll get a ton of suggestions. You can read the blog articles to yourself or even read them out loud (even better).
That’s it. Take those three tips and start improving your speaking skills. When you’re ready to try them out on a native speaker join and me in our English club meetings. It’s fun and you’ll get to meet lost of interesting people.