In my previous job, it’s normal for me to hear people compliment me about the way I speak the English language because we all know it only takes time and practice to nail the so-called neutral accent. Honestly, I’m not even sure if it’s a neutral accent. Hahaha! But in my new job, I am always asked how I improved my speaking skills. And more often than not, they get surprised whenever I tell them how and how long it took me to speak this way.
Well, it took me about 4 years in the call center industry to speak like this. In high school, I normally host school events but my speaking is far different from now. The four years talking to Americans and Australians have influenced me so much in the way I speak. A silly answer to the question of “how to improve your speaking skills” is to be a customer service support for English speaking countries. :)) Well yeah, exposing yourself to something develops your skills.
The main tip is just PRACTICE. My mentors would always tell me: “Practice doesn’t always make things perfect, but it makes things right.”
Here’s hoping that the strategies I have learned from my four years in the BPO industry would help you in nailing your English Speaking skills.
Note: for pre-intermediate to advanced. This may not be suitable for beginners.
- Think in English– Even when hearing a vernacular, your thought process should be in English. Your brain should not be divided into 2 languages. When you think in English, you speak in English.
- Write in English- There are people who are better when they write and they have an advantage if they want to improve their speaking skills because they know the grammar basics and the vocabs and etc, etc. Write away your thoughts in English. Worry about your grammar, vocabulary and sentence construction later. Just keep your thoughts flowing like a waterfall. That’s the good thing about writing; you can proofread and revise at a later time. At the end of the day, you’ll be surprised how you were able to accomplish #1 and #2 in one exercise. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone! 😉
- Read in English- Read English books, articles or passages a loud. Posters, ads, flyers are not exempted. Read anything English and do it out loud. Having someone to practice with sounds cool especially if that person is an English Pro. But if you’re kind of shy, you can do a self-practice by recording yourself. When you’re not sure how to pronounce the word correctly, make use of the dictionary. Right now, dictionaries are very handy. Just tap, type and voila! There you have it! If you have a hard time pronouncing a certain word or maybe your vowels or consonants don’t sound good; focus on them by pronouncing them at least five times every day until you got it right.
- Watch English shows WITHOUT the subtitles– English subtitles are good but translations to your native language? Nahh! This is the common mistake that my friends do. They watch videos with the translation because they “can understand better”. Of course, because it is translated into a language you can easily understand. But going back to #1, your thought process is actually in your native language and NOT in English. So most of the times, you’re confused on how the words are used and how they said it.
- Talk to yourself- Sounds crazy. I know. But this technique helps me a lot even until now. I feel free in expressing my thoughts because well, no one can cut me off from talking. Haha! Often times, your friends may also think you’re being weird for speaking in English when you can just talk to them in your own language. That’s why I prefer talking to myself in English. I love doing it in front of the mirror but if I really want to see my improvement, I record myself. I used to record just my voice, but now I take a video of myself and see how my face looks like when I see this and that. It also helps me practice how to look natural in speaking English.