8 FREE ways to Practice Conversational English with Friends
Learning to speak English can be harder than learning to understand, listen, write and read English.
Conversational English needs to happen real time.
You need to process grammar rules while you speak.
For example, when you write a sentence you have time to think about what you are writing and correct.
When you are speaking English it all needs to happen real time.
This is why Conversational English is so difficult.
This can be in many cases due to lack of practice of speaking English with others and/or lack confidence and embarrassment that you feel you may make too many mistakes or not be understood.
Most English learners have studied the fundamentals of English for years.
Most English students know a good amount of words. However, they don’t have the confidence to speak in English.
How can you fix this?
Learning to speak English needs to be fun and with practice you will become a very good speaker and be able to converse in English with everyone you meet in whatever situation.
You will have great fun and many laughs practicing English with friends and it is one of the easiest ways to start.
You all have the same reason for learning to speak English!
The Best Way to Improve English Speaking
3 Fundamentals of Learning English
Grammar is most certainly important for clear communication; bad grammar can distort or even change a sentence or its meaning. “I go to the store and I bought milk” would be poor grammar because the word “bought” is past-tense.
Vocabulary is necessary for a fuller and richer form of communication just like adding ingredients to a meal enhances its flavor and body. English has many words that sound the same but have different meanings and this can be confusing to foreign students. For example, the words “buy/bye/by.”
Similarly to grammar, pronunciation is essential to good, clear communication as bad pronunciation could distort and change the meaning of a word. A word as simple as “the” is difficult for many from other languages to pronounce. It is often pronounced with a “v” or a “d” as this is an easier and more universal sound.
Here are 8 FREE ways to practice Conversational English with friends:
Choose a topic – Have a Conversation
Ok, let’s take a minute and think of how you learned English so far.
Textbooks, grammar rules, role plays, memorization….
All these methods are very traditional and outdated.
It takes years for anyone to become fluent in English using these outdated methods.
Students need do practice speaking the most, as the majority of them have spent enough time at school learning grammar.
However, most students haven’t put all of the learned in practice.
So here is the game plan:
Choose a favorite topic to discuss over a cup of coffee or tea with friends and speak only in English to talk about this subject.
Start with easier topics for example weather, family or where you live and then by meeting regularly the topics can become harder.
You will improve very quickly using this method and you can ask your friends for help if you are having a problem with remembering any word(s).
You could even learn to sing songs together in English.
How to Improve Conversational English Fast?
Go shopping. Speak English.
Often the greatest barrier to speaking a foreign language is an issue with confidence;
Most of us know from personal experience that it is frightening to speak in a language which is not your own.
If an English student can find ways of improving confidence, they can improve communication skills very fast.
One way to do this is to mix practicing Conversational English with things you love.
Go clothes or food shopping at the supermarket with friends and discuss what you are buying in English.
Make a note of the new words by taking a dictionary and then writing the words down together with their meanings.
You can then see how many you remember when you go home.
Go to the cinema
Expanding on our point above on confidence, let’s talk about more ways to mix learning English with fun.
The lack of confidence in the vocal expression of the English language is the biggest barrier you need to overcome
At our Spoken English Course, we meet individuals who have a base of vocabulary and grammar; yet they are shy to use what they know in a conversation and lack confidence to speak any English.
There is a fear of failing, and that can stop a student from trying.
In our Conversational English lessons, this is why we start by establishing trust and an openness to try.
By creating a safe space and a professional but trusting relationship, the student is able to practice pronunciation or vocabulary and use what they know, and learn from their mistakes.
You can use this same principle on your own.
Go to the cinema and watch a film in English and then have fun afterwards discussing your opinions of the English film!
Feel free to express your opinion openly.
There is no one to judge you right?
May be take a few friends. That way you can discuss the movie in English after watching.
Choose a film that interests you all.
This is a great way to practice.
P.S. Don’t want to go to the Cinema? You can do this same activity with YouTube or Netflix. Here are some great TV shows to help you improve English speaking.
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Choose a topic, which you all understand and give your opinions and feelings about these topics.
You can divide the group into two for example and discuss the subject “is going by train better than flying” with half the group on the side of travelling by plane and the other half saying that flying is better.
It is ok to make mistakes while doing this.
Knowing all of the rules of English grammar, and having a strong vocabulary is not entirely helpful if you are unable to effectively communicate.
So take a chance.
Speak English even if your English isn’t perfect.
Fact: Learning grammar and vocabulary can form quite organically through regular communication with native speakers.
Watch English television/listen to English news on the radio or by using internet
If a student studies English in school (and most ESL students do), the thing most needed is the opportunity to put that learning into practice.
Situational conversation practice is one of the best tools to achieve a level of fluency outside the classroom.
Watching TV is a great way to practice real Conversational English.
Watch English television and/or news and then speak in English about what you have seen or heard.
Pick an episode of the “House of Cards”
Or watch an episode of Anthony Bourdain
Make some notes of the episode and next day explain it to a friend who has not watched it yet.
Then ask him to compare your version with what he saw.
Note: There is a big debate in the ESL community on whether you should watch with subtitles on or not. Spoken English Practice‘s recommendation is to start with sub titles on and turn it off when you get at least 70% of what is been said)
Read books in English
Start with easy books of your choice to read in English.
Start with one of you reading each page and then all of you can continue by reading a page each.
Then when you have finished the chapter, you can all discuss what you have been reading about and look up any new words in a dictionary to understand their meanings.
This activity helps you with one of the most important aspects of Conversational English – expanding your vocabulary.
Expanding your vocabulary is a must.
Learning new words, will make you more fluid and have a range of word choices when having a conversation.
This will allow your to express in English in an advanced, articulate manner.
Go to a restaurant for lunch or dinner
Similar to our ideas on going to the cinema or shopping…
Go out to eat with your friends and ask for the English menu, then discuss the menu, food and drink in English.
May be even watch a video of a recipe.
Visit an art gallery or take a tour of your city in English
Have a day ‘being a tourist’ together where you live and listen to the audio version in English and afterwards discuss together what you have seen in English.
Practice makes perfect.
Learn to ‘think’ in English.
Have a good dictionary with you so you can look up news words and see check how these words are pronounced. As you go about your day-to-day activities try to think what the words are in English.
Just have fun and enjoy practicing English with friends and then your English conversation and fluency will increase very quickly.
Learning needs are particular to each individual student, however, most ESL students are seeking the opportunity to converse in English in a fun, non-threatening environment.
You can do this at an English speaking Course like Spoken English Practice or create an environment on your own using the above examples.