I was listening to audios, podcasts, short lessons, YouTube videos with and without transcripts, etc., improving my listening skills, and it really worked. I applied the concepts I learned in my life. I have been doing this for about 9 years, and I am more than satisfied with the results. However, I lack the confidence to speak, even although I am deeply aware I have the skills needed to do so.
I consider myself a risk-taker, so I ventured into an English interview for a software developer job, and there was my end. At least that’s what I thought. I could not finish a complete sentence. I was stuttering the entire interview, I felt like I was repeating the same words over and over. Consequently, my interviewer decided to tell me I might get another chance afterwards, maybe when I was better prepared for the interview.
The odd thing, I realized, was that I understood every word the guy was telling me. It was the day my biggest fear came true. And I realized what I needed was to get better at having real conversations with someone in English.
The next few weeks I searched the web, figuring out how to accomplish that goal. And after I joined Keeptalking I made a list of few points to keep in mind in order to change my speaking level.
Like everything in your life, you need a plan to follow every day to have a steady pace. So, I made it based on these 5 points. Some of them were given to me by Diego at @keeptalkingco during my reading feedback sessions.
Talk to yourself
If you are thinking in English, try to say your thoughts out loud. Read aloud too. Any practice is valid, even if you have no one to correct your mistakes. The very act of speaking will help you gain confidence in your verbal abilities.
Use a mirror and record your own voice
The goal of the exercise is to observe your mouth, face, rhythm, and body language as you speak. Plus, you will feel like you are talking to someone, so you can pretend you are chatting with a friend.
Speak for 2 or 3 minutes. Do not stop! If you do not know how to say a word, try to communicate in another way. You can always look up the pronunciation of a certain word after 2 or 3 minutes of conversation. This will help you determine what types of words and sentences are the most difficult for you, and on the other hand, you will be aware of your tone and pace of speech. That way you can compare it to that of a native speaker and make any necessary adjustments.
Listen and repeat.
Do you watch TV shows or YouTube videos in English? Use them to improve your fluency. Pick a segment of a show and repeat it. Try to mimic the tone, the speed, and even the accent (if you can). It does not matter if you lose a few words; what really matters is that you do not stop talking. Try to speak like the characters on the show.
You can practice with the videos used at Keeptalking’s interactions; you will find several interesting topics. If you want a challenge, turn off the subtitles!
Remember, listen and repeat.
Pay attention to the word and sentence stress
Native English speakers use accents in words and sentences. You need to learn to accentuate or emphasize certain terms and syllables (sounds) to modify the meaning of words and sentences. Pay attention to the way native speakers use accents and try to imitate them. Learn to listen to the differences so that you reach fluency.
Learn common expressions and phrasal verbs
English natives have lots of common expressions they use in their daily life. You must learn them and use them. Practice them in your interactions with your friends or at your English club. For instance: What’s up. It is just not a messaging app. It is a greeting native English speakers use. Get on the @keeptalkingco bus and beat your fear of speaking.