Nine tips for spoken English

Trainer Laura in a classroom in our Holland Park Gardens centre

One of the questions we get asked the most often is ‘How can I improve my spoken English?’  The need to actually speak the language is one of the key reasons people choose to come to a language school in person, rather than doing self-study at home. After all, the reason why language evolved was to enable us to communicate with each other!

So here are my nine tips for improving your spoken English:

Practice is key

1.  Practise outside class – here at The London School of English we have a regular social programme which you can join – you can use your English at our weekly Monday welcome drinks, in the pub, in restaurants, on walking tours around London and at various cultural events.

2.  Chat to people when you’re out and about. For example, in a restaurant ask the waiter what they’d recommend, or ask your taxi driver if they’ve had a busy day.

3.  Do everything in English! Use any opportunity of being in a native-English speaking country to immerse yourself in the language.

Build confidence

4.  Talk about things that you know a lot about. For instance, you could explain something about your job to a classmate, or give your host family travel tips for visiting your country.

5. Focus on learning whole phrases for particular situations, as this will build your confidence and fluency.   

6. Get over your pronunciation fears – ask your teacher to model any words or sounds that you find especially challenging. And working on the overall rhythm and sound of your speech will help your listener to understand you more than perfecting every word and sound.

Speaking is a two-way activity!

7. If someone says something you don’t understand, ask them to explain. You could say ‘I don’t know what … means’, or ‘I’ve never heard of… what is it?’ 

8. Use discourse markers to help the other person. Discourse markers are expressions which show the ‘direction’ your conversation is going in. For example, when you want to add new information on a different topic, you can begin with ‘by the way’.

9. Engage your listener by checking that they’ve understood. One of the main ways we do this in English is by using question tags, like this: ‘It’s a bit cold, isn’t it?’ This gives the other person a chance to respond.

I hope this helps you to work on your spoken English. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below.

This blog post was written by Laura, one of our trainers at The London School of English

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