Practicing speaking with a native English teacher via Skype is the best ways to improve English communication skills. But there are other fun and creative ways to work on those skills in between classes, for free! Here are some great ideas for you to try out on your own (and impress your teacher at the next session):
Once you have a basic command of English, you can start volunteering in your community. There are so many opportunities out there and all you have to do is look around you. If you have children, you can volunteer as a member of the parents’ council at their school, or as a Boy Scout or Girl Guide/Scout leader. You could serve food to the underprivileged at a soup kitchen or sort donations at the local food bank.
While you’re volunteering you will meet many others in the same role as you, and have countless conversations as you go about your work. It’s also a great way to make new friends who you can then go for coffee with and improve English communication skills even more.
This one’s not just free – it could help you to earn a little extra cash! Focus on jobs in customer service, which requires conversing with clients as you help them find what they need or ring up their purchases. As long as your math skills are good and you’re speaking English at an advanced beginner level, there should be plenty of jobs you’re qualified to do.
Most communities have small amateur theatre companies that put on a few plays a year. They often require a number of actors to play small, mostly non-speaking roles, but in the course of rehearsing and performing, you’ll get the opportunity to talk to your fellow actors, the director and the stage crew, and you’ll also hear English constantly around you during the play itself, which assists with new vocabulary learning. Plus, it’s fun and you might discover you have some hidden talents!
Or start one, if you don’t know anyone who already belongs to one and can invite you in. Public libraries are also a good place to find out if any local clubs are seeking new members. Initially, you might be reading the book with a dictionary at your side, but it’s the discussions you’ll be part of during the meetings that will truly help develop your English conversation skills. As a bonus, there are usually drinks and snacks at the meetings, and they’re held in the evening so as not to interfere with work or school.
Not in English, of course, but in another subject you’re skilled in, such as math or science. This is a great option for university or college students to explore. You might get paid or it could be volunteer work, but regardless, you’ll be explaining concepts to another person, in English, which will require you to converse with them regularly. Just be sure to take on mostly students who don’t speak your native language so you get an opportunity to improve English communication skills while teaching.
If you have a couple of friends who like music, try getting together one night a week to listen to a piece of music and discuss it – what you like about it, what it reminds you of, the history and lyrics, and so on. Anything from classical to rock to punk will work with this model, and you can take turns choosing the music, hosting, and providing snacks.
If your family speaks the same native language as you do, it can be difficult to get enough practice in English conversation. You can challenge your family members to try and go a whole day only speaking English to one another – maybe with small prizes for the person who slips up the least, such as not having to do chores for a few days or getting to pick what’s for dinner. Kids especially will get into the competitive spirit with this one! Choose a day when you’ll all be at home together (such as a Sunday) to make it a true challenge. English only days can be a fun way to improve English communication skills as a group.
As you can see, there are opportunities in every part of your life, from home to work to school, friends, hobbies and interests, to improve English communication skills. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – most people will be impressed by the effort you’re making rather than keeping track of your verb tenses or pronouns. (But if your friends and colleagues are willing to gently and politely help you correct any mistakes, so much the better!) When you incorporate English into all aspects of your life it becomes natural to speak it, and you’ll gain fluency much more quickly.