English is one of the world’s most common languages, and people of many different native languages use it to communicate with each other. Learning English is essential, and the more of it you know, the more engaging, insightful, and interesting conversations you’ll be able to have.
If you’d like to become more fluent in the English you speak, there are some excellent actionable tips you can use to help further your progress.
How to Improve Your English
There are three essential steps you will need to keep in mind in your journey to sharpen your English skills. Each one of these steps can be broken down into several specific (and purposeful) tips:
- Build a solid foundation
- Use specific techniques to improve your English
- Practice your English frequently to improve your skills
A good grasp of a wide vocabulary, along with correct grammar and intonation, is needed to express yourself adequately as you speak English. Since about 4,000 words are added to the English dictionary each year, you should start your journey by building a good foundation in the language .
Build a Solid Foundation
Your English will only be as good as the foundation you establish for it. That foundation includes expanding your vocabulary, working on your pronunciation, and building your confidence in your ability to speak English.
Expanding Your Vocabulary
Learning new words every day is the best way to consistently broaden your knowledge about the words that make up the language. You don’t have to commit to learning a great number of words day in and day out — just a few new words a day is excellent.
If you keep a very busy schedule and only learn one new word each day, that’s 365 new English words you will have learned by the end of one year. Some excellent resources for learning new words are TV shows, movies, songs, and the news.
Working on Pronunciation
Make sure you use the little speaker symbol as you work with an online dictionary so you can hear the proper pronunciation of words. Many people also find it helpful to try tongue twisters when they are ready for a challenge. There are many excellent tongue twister videos on YouTube.
There are also several excellent English pronunciation tutorials on YouTube as well. Using popular podcasts that teach the aspects of speaking words properly, including American English Pronunciation, is helpful for many people .
Building Your Confidence
Believe it or not, one of the biggest barriers people have to developing and improving their English speaking skills is a lack of confidence. It can be intimidating to try to learn such a broad and challenging language, but one of the best ways to overcome the issue is to practice often. Practice speaking to friends, family members, and even strangers.
Using Techniques to Improve Your English
Applying techniques to help your English improve is a significant step to begin once you’ve got a solid foundation in the language. Some excellent techniques to try include:
- Talking in English to yourself
- Speech shadowing
- Story retelling
- Thinking in English
In addition, you can record yourself speaking English, then listen to the recording. You can ask others for feedback, or if you’re by yourself, listen for any incorrect pronunciations you can correct.
Talk to yourself in English, and speak loudly and confidently. You can make statements or ask questions like, “I need to take the dog for a walk,” or ask yourself, “Do I need to start a load of laundry yet?” You can also read some pages of a book out loud and listen to your speech.
Watch and listen to an English speaker, then repeat and imitate their speech. Many people listen to podcasts, watch the news, or view movies or TV shows. The idea is to watch and listen to the language being spoken many times, then imitate what is said.
This is an effective technique during which you retrace other people’s thoughts in your own voice. Begin with a familiar story and start with the basics. Pay attention to convey not only the meaning of words but also the nuances and voice inflections (the way the language sounds).
Thinking in English
Thinking in English is one of the most effective ways to make the language second nature to you. Conditioning the brain to not only speak English but also to think in it will strengthen the parts of the brain responsible for language.
Practice Your English Frequently
Even if you don’t live in an English-speaking country, the language is not spoken in your community, or it’s not used in your workplace, you can practice on your own by:
- Being active with public speaking events
- Chatting with Siri or Bixby on your phone or tablet
- Using helpful apps
As with anything else, practice is the key to improving your English skills.
Be Active with Public Speaking Events
Cultural societies, universities, libraries, and theaters are just some places that frequently hold various public speaking events. They can be storytelling hours, open debates, or anything in between. Many venues now host TEDx talks, during which you can share your ideas in English .
Chat with Siri or Bixby
Many people learning English find Siri and Bixby to be valuable companions to help push them to speak clearly. This is because words and how you pronounce them are the only means of making yourself understood by these machines.
Use Helpful Apps
There are some apps available that allow you to talk to native English speakers through your mobile device. You can register for an account and add information about yourself, like your hobbies and interests, and you’ll be matched with people like you who want to practice speaking English. Two apps like this are Tandem and HelloTalk , .
Most people find it helpful to use a combination of tools and strategies to improve their English skills. This exposes people to a wide variety of sources and a wider expanse of the language itself.