Do you want to get better at speaking English? The best thing you can do is practice it a lot. Find helpful ways you can improve your spoken English.
If you are a newcomer in the USA, speaking English is the most important skill you can learn. You need to communicate with Americans in your everyday life. Speaking English can help you get a job, meet new people, find things you need and speak up for yourself.
Here are some tips to practice speaking English and improve your English conversation.
1. Speak English a little bit 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.
2. 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.
3. Learn some useful phrases
Learn a few phrases that you will need in your daily communication. “I need help” is an example of a good phrase to know. If you are prepared, you will be more willing to ask or answer questions. You can hear and read many English phrases on Englishspeak.
4. 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.
5. Practice English conversation at home
Your family members might 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.
6. 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. Repeat what you hear.
7. 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. For example, an afterschool club for newcomer children 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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 a 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. Be honest and 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.”
14. Use translation services when needed
There are also many ways for you to quickly translate new words to or from English. You can use a dictionary or phrasebook. There are also apps and online help you can use on your phone or computer. Learn how to use free translation services and google translate.
If your English is limited, you have a right under U.S. 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.
15. Don’t get discouraged!
Do not give up. Try to be patient. Give yourself more time. Try new ways to practice speaking English. Soon, you will surprise yourself with your conversation skills and all the new words you can say!