For many, speaking a foreign language is the hardest part of learning it, and it really takes a lot of work to start talking like a real native speaker. Luckily, Ireland is one of the friendliest countries in Europe and you can improve your skills by communicating with the warm Irish people. Besides that, there are activities you should include in your daily routine that will boost your learning ability to the next level. Here are 10 of those to try:
1. Start listening to podcasts
Podcasts are an awesome helper to improve your English pronunciation. By listening to the episodes you will discover and remember more easily a lot of new and useful words and phrases. The difference between podcasts and watching movies or TV is that there are no images to distract you from concentrating over the small nuances of articulating in English. It is also different than radio as there isn’t any music or ads and while people do talk on the radio it is usually about news, politics and other non-day-to-day stuff.
Listening to podcasts is an easy activity to include in your daily routine, it will also make you a better listener and help you in your journey to speak more fluently. There are special podcasts you can pick according to your level of English. Search for free podcasts on Youtube, Spotify, Google Podcasts, etc.
2. Listen and repeat
Another good way to practice speaking is by listening and repeating. You can select some of your favorite scenes from movies and series and try to repeat the dialogue. First, listen to it once or twice to make sure you have it all well memorized – not only the words but also the specific way they’re pronounced. Once you get it, repeat out loud what you heard and try to look as much as a native English speaker as possible.
3. Record and examine yourself
You might feel quite uncomfortable at the beginning of doing this but it will quickly pay off. This method is one of the best shortcuts to improve your speaking skills. You will notice errors that you didn’t know you were making before and will try to quickly correct them.
Extra tip: for better effectiveness, talk in front of the mirror while recording. In time you will grow both your speaking skills and your self-esteem.
4. Change the language of your devices to English
It may not seem like much, but simply changing the language of your phone and apps to English can do a lot for you. Most of the meaning associations are made by reading words. Reading in English every time you pick up your smartphone easily add new words to your vocabulary.
5. Find An English-Speaking Conversation Partner
A.k.a – a friend 🙂
Try finding someone to talk with you for at least an hour daily in English. Even if he or she is from the same country as you, make an arrangement to speak in English for at least a couple of hours a day. You will also be able to correct each other’s mistakes. Your friend may be someone from your school who also wants to practice English or a local friend you met during the exchange, or even some random people: neighbors, people you met on the bus, the barista of your favorite coffee shop, etc.
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6. Talk with locals as often as possible
Studying abroad one of the best ways to improve your speaking skills and you shouldn’t waste it – go outside, be out there. Any social activities, such as going to a pub, club or show, can be helpful and fun too. Use every chance to speak with locals and learn from them. Listening is also very important when learning English, so pay extra attention to the way your new friends pronounce the words and some of the phrases they use more often.
7. Sing along your favorite English songs
You are probably doing this already but if you aren’t – start now.
Music is part of everyone’s life but you can use it as a way of advancing your English too. When listening to your favorites songs, pay extra attention to the lyrics and try to sing along. Browse Genius.com to find the lyrics of your favorite songs. Start singing in the shower, while doing the laundry and especially when washing the dishes – nobody likes washing dishes, especially in silence.
This is a very helpful exercise that you can do on a daily basis to improve your fluency and have fun. It is the quickest way to improve your pronunciation when mimicking the singer.
8. Go to the Extra classes offered by Erin School
If you’re lucky to be in an English school that offers you extra activities, such as Erin, try to enjoy it as much as possible. Here, for example, there are daily extracurricular classes based around conversations, theater plays, watching and discussing movies and more, that can help you develop and practice your English speaking skills with other people.
9. Focus on phrases, not on words
What makes you really sound like a native English speaker is the way you form phrases when communicating. This is harder to learn than just memorizing new words and their meaning. Even if you are applying the right grammar and vocabulary, some things are just said differently by the locals, so it’s nice to learn some of those phrases if you wanna sound more natural and fluent.
When meeting someone, for example, you can use “how’re you doing?”, or “what’s up?” instead of “how are you, what are you doing?” or “it’s everything alright with you?”. Generally, the shorter phrases are more commonly used and will make you sound more natural.
If your friend is not in a good mood, people often say “Did you got out of bed on the wrong side this morning?”. And if you are in the same situation as other people, you are all “on the same boat”. Those are just some examples you can try to incorporate.
10. Talk to yourself
A little talking to yourself at home will not make you a crazy person though you might want to avoid it in public 🙂 😉
If it’s hard finding people to talk with you in English on a daily basis, you should still continue crafting your speaking skills. Use a mirror and watch yourself talking in front of it every day. You can pick any topics you like, just don’t forget paying attention at the way you pronounce the words and form phrases. Do your best to avoid speaking breaks and try sounding as fluent as possible. The less you stumble over words, the more confident you will sound.
Author: Juliana Hansen