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5 tips to improve your English skills

April 05, 2021 11:24 IST
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Challenge yourself to use the new words you have learned while listening and reading, in your conversations, suggests language expert Aditi Mehta.

How to speak fluent English 

Kindly note the image has been posted only for representational purposes. Photograph: Kind courtesy

Be it learning, for work or for social interactions, conversations build bridges.

All of us aspire to speak with the fluency and confidence that stops a listener in their tracks, making them want to give the gift of their full and focussed attention to us.

There is indeed nothing that compares to satisfaction we get after an incredible conversation.

Speaking in a language foreign to many of us, especially English, comes with its own challenges.

It is the official language of 53 countries and is the language that 52% of all content on the Internet is in.

One thing is clear: Building fluency in spoken English is no longer a choice.

It is also clear that in this pursuit, there is only so far watching programmes or movies in English will take you.

Mastery does not happen overnight; but here are five simple, helpful and effective ways to improve your English skills:

1. Listen

We picked up our language of love, our mother tongue, mainly by listening to it.

Active listening continues to be a tried and tested way to absorb and build fluency in any language.

Listen to podcasts or lectures in English that interest you, to chart-topping English songs, to radio jingles, or meditate to a calming app that guides you in English.

While listening, remember to:

  • Note down new words and how they are pronounced.
  • Observe the fluctuations in tone when someone speaks.
  • Repeat words and sentences aloud as you listen to them to build your vocabulary bank and confidence, both.

2. Read

From the outset it is very important to understand a simple fact: spoken fluency is not possible without fluency of thought.

Fluency of thought is the ability to think of the right words to say at the right time to communicate something clearly and effectively.

More reading means more word knowledge, better grammar, more ways to turn a phrase and more knowledge of the world around us.

So, tap into your inner self and discover what you like. Then, read about it!

Read books, magazines, newspapers, graphic novels, journals, lists, blogs and microsites. Read for pleasure or purpose. Read on!

Hidden benefit? Find this beautiful habit making its way into your life as a routine!

While reading, remember to:

  • Note down new words and how they are spelled.
  • Read out loud to check pronunciation and speed.
  • Re-read more difficult passages to comprehend meaning effectively.

3. Speak and reflect

Nothing like practice to build spoken fluency.

Have as many conversations in English as you can.

Pick up the phone, have a video call or meet someone.

Speak with a friend, a member of the family or a colleague. You may even voice your thoughts in English aloud.

There are plenty of social apps that can help you learn a language by chatting with native speakers around the world.

You can find language exchange partners to talk to by either text or voice chat and learn the art of conversing in English.

Challenge yourself to use the new words you have learned while listening and reading, in your conversations.

Most importantly, stay away from single-word responses in conversations.

Keep a track of how quickly yet accurately you speak from one conversation to another. Bet you will surprise yourself with your own expertise!

After a conversation, remember to:

  • Reflect on what you learned.
  • Reflect on the grammatical issues you may have faced, sentence structures you used and the new ideas you grasped.
  • Process it and lock them firmly in your mind.

4. Take an online class

There are many wonderful free and paid online classes available for all age groups. Some classes have a live tutor as well.

Make the most of these flexibly scheduled classes and join them for a ‘skill and confidence boost’.

You can even choose the kind of fluency you want to build (fluency at work, fluency for social conversations, etc) and attend a class tailored to your needs.

5. Celebrate your success

Celebrate every little mistake, every learning opportunity and every hurdle you have overcome. Nothing works better than a dash of self-confidence and positive self-reinforcement in this journey towards mastery.

Hard work in the right direction will take you a long way. Never be afraid to learn, to practice or to make mistakes. Fluency in spoken English comes through incremental effort applied in a sustained manner. Success is not far.

Aditi Mehta is the director of academics at Stones2Milestones, an engaging tech-driven English learning platform catering to children from ages 3-12 years.

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