Learning Spoken English is not like learning Biology or History. You can’t learn English speaking by just studying grammar rules or by memorizing lists of words. Those will only help you become a beginner. To grow from a beginner to an intermediate, you need to practice speaking with native speakers. In other words, the best way to master Oral English is by doing, not by studying.
Here are tips we’d like to share on how you can improve the “doing” part in your English language learning process:
“Why do the almost native speakers speak so fast? I can’t catch what you say!”
This is a common grievance that you hear from most English students. Yes, native English speakers do sometimes speak fast making it hard for non-natives to understand and respond. But that is part of the challenge.
A good way to solve this problem is to work on your English listening skills. Listen to audio books while driving and try to repeat some of the sentences you hear. Watch English movies with no subtitles on, trying to understand what the actors say. Or follow a radio program or a podcast on a topic of interest, and watch/listen in English.
An important aspect of speaking English like a native is developing the ability to “hear” like a native. So listen very carefully.
Grammar in any language is tricky because most grammar rules have so many exceptions! Grammar is a barrier to entry, so to speak.
Grammar is the probably the biggest challenge for most elementary level English learners. The most natural and effective way to know when and how to use participles, prepositions, and other confusing aspects of grammar is to hear them used correctly in real day to day conversations.
Take prepositions for example. Instead of saying “I live in Thailand” and non-native speaker might say “I live on Thailand” or “I live at Thailand”. Fixing this merely by explaining the grammar rule is a colossal waste of time, and is poor teaching. The student should learn to understand the right usage and sentence structure naturally, without having to process the grammar rule in his head.
The best way to do this is by “doing”. Practice Conversational English with a native English teacher 3 times a week. You will automatically see an improvement in your grammar without learning any new grammar rules. In other words you will start to get an intuitive sense of what the correct grammar usage is.
English is a language with a vast vocabulary. This vastness within the English language can be challenging for some students. How do we know the right word to use?
The problem is that many individuals learning English seem to get caught up in the meaning of words. Most students try to memorize as many words as possible. This approach is not only far from efficient but also a counter productive in some cases.
Remember, many words in the English language have various explicit and implicit meanings to them.
Think of vocabulary as word families. What are some words that would mean the same as “happy”.
Now think of learn each word in this group and remember they all mean roughly the same.
Of course, you don’t want to be using all these words in day to conversations, when you want to say you are happy. That is not the point. The point is to be able to understand it when the word comes up. The more you practice speaking, the more you will understand the subtle differences in using these variations.