Do you want to get better at English conversation? The best thing you can do is practice, practice, and more practice! Find some ways you can improve your spoken English.
If you are a newcomer in the USA, English conversation is the most important skill you can learn. You need to communicate with Americans in your everyday life. Speaking English will also help you to get a job, study, and learn other skills.
Here are some tips to help you improve your English conversation.
Do a little bit of English conversation every day
This is the first tip because it is the most important. English conversation is like many other things. If you do a little bit every day, you will get better. Practice a new phrase or word you learned by using it in a question or a statement.
Don’t worry about how you sound!
The more you speak, the better your pronunciation will be. But if you are feeling self-conscious, you can always say, “Please excuse my English. I am an English learner.” Most people will be patient and kind.
Learn some useful phrases
Learn a few phrases that you will need in your daily communication. If you are prepared, you will be more willing to ask or answer questions. You can hear and read many English phrases on Englishspeak.
Practice English conversation at work
Tell your coworkers that you need to practice English. Ask them questions about words, and ask them to correct you when you make mistakes.
Practice English conversation at home
Your family members also need to learn English and practice English conversation. Try speaking English instead of your native language when you are together at meals. Your children may be learning English at school. Encourage them by speaking English to them and doing their homework with them. You will all learn more quickly.
Listen to English as much as you can
Concentrate on the spoken English you hear on the radio, on TV, and when you are out in public.
Volunteer in your community
If you have time, give an hour or two every week to a volunteer job. You could donate your time to a good cause – an afterschool club for newcomer children, for example, where your own language skills will be useful. Or you could prepare or serve food at a local food pantry or community kitchen. At all these places, you can talk to people and practice your English conversation skills.
Practice your pronunciation
The Merriam Webster Learners Dictionary is an online dictionary especially for people learning English. It allows you to listen to every word in the dictionary so you can learn how to say it. The website also has 75 exercises for perfect pronunciation. Do an exercise every day.
Understand American English slang
Sometimes, Americans say words that you might understand, but they mean something quite different! Learn some slang that is useful to understand in American English conversations.
Take an English conversation class in your community
There are many free English conversation classes and other English classes in the USA. You can search in FindHello for a class near you. Choose your language, enter your city or address, and then select Education & English Classes.
You can also find a community college and ask if they have free evening or daytime conversation classes. Or you can ask at your local library. Some job centers have English classes for refugees and immigrants. Find your nearest job center.
Practice English conversation online
If it is hard for you to get to a class, start learning English online. There are several online English classes you can do on your computer or mobile device. Many of them are free and allow you to practice speaking.
Find a language partner for English conversation
There are websites online where you can sign up for a language partner. You can teach Spanish, for example, while your partner teaches you English. The Conversation Exchange allows you to search for people in your area and also for distance partners using chat software. Italki has paid teachers and tutors, but it also has a list of free speaking partners. If you sign up with your email address, you will be able to access the language partner list under “Community.” You do not need to pay anything unless you decide to get a tutor.
Ask for help
If you do not understand part of the conversation, it is okay to politely ask the other person to repeat what they said. You can ask them to speak slowly, too. To ask this in English, say, “I’m sorry, but will you repeat that more slowly? Thank you.”
Use a quick translation system if you get stuck
There are also many ways for you to quickly translate new words to or from English. You can use a dictionary or phrase book. You can also use online dictionaries. Google Translate is a website and a mobile app that will help you translate words and sentences. If you have a smartphone, you will also be able to do that on your phone wherever you are! You can try Google Translate online. Or you can download the Google Translate app.
Use interpreter services
If your English is limited, you have a right under US law to ask for an interpreter in certain situations. Hospitals and doctors’ offices must provide interpreters. So must law courts. Your child’s school should give you language assistance with written and spoken English if you need it. So if you are still learning to speak English, ask for an interpreter to make sure you understand important English conversations. You can also find out how to get free translation help.
Don’t get discouraged!
Do not give up. Give yourself more time. Soon, you will surprise yourself with your conversation skills and all the new words you can say!