Ideally, everyone would practice speaking all of the time with a professional teacher. However, that isn’t always realistic because of time restraints and the cost of classes. This guide is designed to help you practice speaking on your own which is a crucial aspect of your development, regardless of whether you take classes with a teacher or not.

 

1) Record yourself speaking

 
This is one of the most awkward but effective methods of practising speaking. To get the best out of this activity, you should record yourself on your phone and focus on improving one aspect of your speaking each time.

What will this improve?

I’d aim to improve your fluency using this method and it’s particularly useful for practising IELTS part 2 and reaching 2 minutes without stopping.

 2) Read aloud

 During my conversational English classes, I often make students read aloud and it’s noticeable how difficult they find it at first. Once they can read aloud at a reasonable speed, their fluency in a regular conversation tends to improve.

 What will this improve?

Apart from fluency, this might be the best method to improve your pronunciation. Particularly if you listen to a native speaker (TED talk) and attempt to imitate their intonation and speed of speech.

 
3) Listen to a native speaker

 There are many ways of listening to native speakers and learning from their tendencies. You could listen to the radio, podcasts, watch TV or just go out with your English friend. It’s important to focus on what you could learn from them and listen closely to any habits.

 What will this improve?

You should try to find a native speaker who is discussing a subject that you are struggling with. For instance, if you were struggling to talk about the environment, maybe you could watch Planet Earth or an interview on Youtube with an environmentalist. If you have an English friend, you could ask them challenging IELTS part 3 questions and see how they respond. You should notice how much native speakers hesitate and look for ideas (without going silent) and then copy their strategies.

 

 4) Meetups or language exchanges

 

Most of my students live in big cities and nowadays there are several language meetups each week. I’d recommend looking on meetup.com. Generally, these meetups are free and if there isn’t one in your local area, you could easily start one. To be honest, even the language exchanges quickly turn into English and maybe you could make a friend who you could practice with after the event.

 
What will this improve?

 Meeting real native speakers will allow you to learn English outside of a textbook. The actual phrases that we use are sometimes totally different from those in vocabulary books. By meeting native speakers, you can get used to them and often reduce your anxiety when you are required to speak English in a more stressful situation.

 5) Speak to your pet, teddy or a baby

 This idea is a little bit random, but if you don’t want to speak to yourself then why not speak to your pet or baby. They love hearing your voice and don’t care what you are saying. Of course you aren’t going to get any critical feedback, however, let’s be honest sometimes we don’t it. Don’t worry if you don’t have a pet or a baby, you can literally talk to anything in your house.

 What will this improve?

This depends on how creative you want to be, but for sure it will improve your fluency and confidence. If you talked to your refrigerator, maybe you could improve your food vocabulary.

How often should you practice?

This is the most frequent question that students ask me, but it depends on your goals. My honest answer would be to try to practice every day, especially if you live in a non-English speaking country.

I’d try and start with something manageable and turn it into a habit. Twenty minutes per day is a lot easier to achieve than doing two hours, once per week.

Should you also practice with a teacher?

 

The obvious answer to this is yes because there are certain things that only a skilled teacher will be able to fix. These can include frequent grammar errors, development of ideas, strategy and unnatural phrases. Especially if you are preparing for an exam like IELTS, you should take at least 2 hours of classes each week. This would allow you to receive the vital feedback that will allow you to reach your desired goal.

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