Do you want to speak English?
Say words aloud all the time. Name everything you see: “table”, “cat”, “bakery”. Everything you feel: “tired”, “I’m hungry”, “Why?”
When you see a car number plate, say the numbers and letters out loud. This is great practice for the alphabet, by the way.
If you pass a door with the number 15 on it, say it: “Fifteen!”
Get your mouth used to moving into the right positions to make English sounds.
If you watch television or DVDs in English, repeat everything the actors say. Or at least the bits you understand.
Who do you want to be when you speak English? George Clooney or Damian Lewis? Angelina Jolie or Judi Dench? Imitate the quality of your chosen actor’s voice. When you do this, you’ll notice that the intonation and pronunciation fall into place. You can be Helen Mirren or Adrian Lester.
Perhaps you’re naturally shy. You can’t imagine starting a conversation with a stranger or speaking up in a class or meeting. That’s OK. You can adopt a different personality when you speak English. A new language and a new you!
In class, make sure you volunteer to answer questions. Use your time wisely when working in pairs. Don’t be the silent partner. Greet your fellow students or your colleagues in English.
Read the examples in your text book aloud. This helps your thought processes and your mouth work together. Speaking English is then filed under “frequent activity” in your brain’s computer.
Read all the English you can find out loud. Say the words, don’t just see them. Use audio books to be certain your pronunciation and intonation are correct. Don’t worry too much about the meaning. Your understanding will improve gradually and naturally, as you read more complex books or articles.
Memorise and recite poetry. Children’s nursery rhymes or Shakespeare, it’s your choice.
Remember, singing counts as speaking and it has an even greater effect on your memory muscles. You’ll soon find yourself using verbal structures, interesting vocabulary or clever word plays from songs you have sung.
They used to say talking to yourself was the first sign of madness, but it’s a legitimate technique for actors and language learners. You’re also allowed to talk to other people and that’s even more fun!
Don’t know anybody who speaks English? Talk to the dog. Teach your child English. Meet other students for an English-only coffee. Join a sports club or other activity where English is the common language, if you can find one. Otherwise, look for a social group or yoga class with a lot of foreign members. Some of them will be native speakers of English. Make friends. Ask them out for a walk. Offer to show them round the local area. Invite them to your home.
Language exchanges are a great, free way to meet other students or native speakers.
If you want to be sure that the quality of your English is improving, as well as your confidence and fluency, pay for some lessons with an experienced teacher. These can be in person or online, so finding the right timetable shouldn’t be a problem.
If you really feel that your English is blocked, or you are a beginner and you want a quick introduction to the basics, invest in an immersion course. You’ll be speaking from day one and you’ll never look back.