Here’s a little exercise for you. Think of all the people you know who speak really good English.
How did they improve their English?
You will find that almost all of these people have being exposed to the English language at a high frequency, either at home, school or at work.
The key to improve spoken English is immersing in English. This is why Spoken English Practice lessons are 100% conversational.
Here are 3 English speaking rules that you should never ignore.
It is surprising how little words you need to have a conversation.
Remember, the whole point of communicating is to express, not to impress. You don’t have to talk like Tolstoy!
Many non-native speakers struggle because they go on the fruitless journey of memorizing thousands of words. It is important to learn new words, and to expand your vernacular, but do this in small doses. Learn 2 new words every day, instead of 50. And try to use those 2 words in a real life conversation or presentation. The more you do this, the wider your “active” vocabulary would be.
2. Grammar is overrated!
This rule might sound counter-intuitive, but it is probably the most important rule. If you want to perfect your written English, then study grammar.
However, if your goal is to be fluent in English, then try to learn English without focusing too much on grammar.
Think of how you spoke your first language? Did you learn grammar first or did you just speak? The same rule applies to speaking any language.
When you put too much emphasis on grammar, you naturally over-think and over complicate English in your head, instead of naturally talking like a native.
Remember, only a small fraction of English speakers know more than 20% of all the grammar rules. Many non-native know more grammar than native speakers.
Note: if you want to improve your grammar, there are tons of great, free resources on the internet.
Also, you need to only know about 5 main grammar concepts to be able to speak English fluently.
For example you should have a basic understanding for sentence structures.
Every sentence includes a noun (a person, animal, place or object), a verb (an action/doing word), together with in many sentences an adjective (describes a noun and includes for example colour eg brown hair with brown being the adjective and hair being the noun) and adverbs (describes a verb for example he ran quickly with quickly being the adverb and ran being the verb).
I will go to the beach on Saturday.
He visits London today.
She plays the piano well.
The dog is running quickly.
Fetch the blue and red ball.
She has long blond hair.
Remember, even if you make a small grammatical mistake, most people will still understand you. The most important thing is to speak clearly and confidently.
I will give you one more example in grammar that will make you realize how easy it is to learn English an use correct grammar.
Think of how tenses are used in English. Don’t think of these as English speaking rules but rather as patterns of the English language.
Start learning the present tense which describes actions happening now.
Examples: I walk
Learn the future tense which refers to actions that will take place later today, tomorrow, next week, next month or next year.
Examples: I will play tennis with you tomorrow.
He or she will visit over the weekend.
It will happen on Friday.
We will go on holiday next week.
You will go the theatre next month.
They will go on a skiing holiday in January.
Learn the past tense which took place yesterday, last week, last month or last year.
Examples: I played tennis yesterday.
He or she went to the cinema last Wednesday.
It happened last month.
We went on holiday last summer.
They visited Edinburgh last year.
Learn Irregular past participles of verbs
When using the past tenses of regular verbs, we add an ‘-ed’ at the end.
Present tense Past tense
I walk I walked
He visits He visited
She dances She danced
It snows It snowed
We smile We smiled
You fetch You fetched
There are irregular past participles of certain verbs in the past tense.
Present tense Past tense
I swim I swam
He comes He came
She drinks She drank
It becomes It became
We eat We ate
They begin They began
I am I was
He/she/it is He/she/it was
We are We were
They are They were
Remember, grammar should not be something that holds you back from speaking English. You should think of grammar as a framework that helps you speak English, not something that will scare you away. Never let grammar make you lose confidence in speaking in English.
3. Maximize your conversations in English with people who are fluent
Practicing speaking English with a friend who is not a native English speaker has both pros and cons.
Practicing with a non-native person will certainly give you practice. It might also give you confidence, that you are better than most.
However, you might pick up bad habits from one another if you are not sure about what are correct and incorrect sentences. This could be contagious, and could be something difficult to course correct over time.
At Spoken English Practice, we believe the best way to improve spoken English is to have conversations with native speakers as much as possible.
Improvements in spoken English (or any language) for that matter comes over time. Be persistent, but be logical as well. Remembering these English speaking rules will allow you to focus your energy on what is important.