It was in 2016 while I was meeting the ex-MD of a leading bank on a business proposal, that our discussions veered towards Corporate Social Responsibility. He casually mentioned a friend of his who teaches English to children from underprivileged communities. She would gather them all in her house and then she would start describing to them, in English, what she was doing. For Example, if she was making tea, she would say “I am making tea”, “This is a pan” (pointing to the pan), “Now I am adding milk…. and water” and so on, describing every action of hers. She also encouraged the children to talk to her in English as much as possible. As a result, she currently has over 20 children speaking fluent english in a few months.
The secret to learning to speak english confidently is the most obvious one – start speaking in English. Many people know how to read and write english, but are afraid to speak. They worry about whether they would make mistakes, embarrass themselves. “What if I say something stupid?”
Start practicing your English today
So how can you start?
Let me give you the good news. It is much easier than you think. Most people who start off on this journey get better with each passing day. If you are reading this, chances are that you can read english and you have decided to improve your spoken english. So here are the few things that you can do to make it happen.
1. Find others like you
You cannot learn to speak english (or any language) without speaking to others. It is quite like learning to swim. You can read as many books about swimming, and you can watch as many instructional videos, but nothing will happen until you enter the water. So the first step is to find people with whom you can have a conversation. This can be a few of your friends with whom you can practice speaking in English without worrying about making mistakes.
Alternatively, you can join an online community. For example, Mentza has communities meant for english speaking that have thousands of members like you. The live 20 minute sessions is where people talk to each other and improve their skills.
2. Find supportive coaches
For learning to speak English, you don’t need teachers, you need coaches who will support and guide you in your conversations, suggest improvement plans and encourage when you don’t feel confident. They are the ones who would identify what your areas of improvement are and suggest an optimal plan for you. You can find such coaches online. Mentza’s Spoken English communities have many coaches and volunteers who help people improve their spoken English. Try them out. It is free, for now.
3. Practice Practice Practice!
You don’t need to spend a lot of time speaking to learn to speak good english. But you have to be regular, consistent. Even if you spend 20 minutes every day, that would improve your english and confidence to speak. On Mentza, we encourage our community members to join at least one circle everyday and speak. Consistency is far more important than spending a lot of time on one day and then not doing it for 3 days
4. Reflect on your conversations
Think of the conversation that you had. What could have been done better? What are the areas for improvement? How did others respond to you? Mentza English coaches recommend that while learning, go back and listen to your conversations. I find listening to my own voice one of the most difficult things to do because we are the harshest critics of ourselves. But that’s only in the beginning. Once you get started, it is one of the fastest ways to improve your speaking skills. Just like the batsman who practices to play the shot correctly every time he misses a ball, you will improve your weak points quickly.
5. Listen to good speakers
Active listening – where you are not just understanding what people are saying but noticing also how they are saying it – where they pause, how they modulate, how they structure their content. You can listen to speeches, good podcasts or even watch english movies. And read – good books, internet articles, newspapers or magazines on topics that you like, whenever you can.
6. Enjoy your conversations
This is the most important part because unless you enjoy your conversations, you will find it difficult to do them on a daily basis. Being correct is less important than having a conversation where you are able to communicate with others. Go back and listen to your first few conversations to see how much you have progressed. Share your successes with others around you.
I would suggest that you check out Spoken English communities on Mentza. You will find communities that encourage and not judge you because every member is trying to improve their english skills . The coaches are very supportive and would help you understand areas of improvement. Every conversation is recorded and is available for you to review. There are many features like highlighting and sharing which helps you learn faster and better.