It surprises me to read how much of the information on improving spoken English is either wrong or outdated. We are living in the information age now. If you are reading this, you have a computer and most likely you have an iPhone or some similar device. I want to show you how to take advantage of the technology of today to get ahead of the game.
Many countries around the world hire expensive and often inexperienced foreign teachers to teach a class called “spoken English” or “Oral English”. The idea is to allow the students to hear real native conversation and improve from that. Well, this experiment pretty much failed and the proof is that most of the world still cannot speak English very well. The curriculum was often boring and outdated and the students never had enough one on one time with the teacher.
Now you can use the internet to download natural native spoken English onto your iPod or whatever you use to listen to MP3s. If you listen to enough slang and natural speech, your speaking will start to get a lot better. This is a lot different than the old tapes you would find in the bookstore. Those are super boring and far too formal to really learn how to have a normal conversation.
It does not matter what your current level of English is. If you can read better than talk, you are not alone. Millions of people are in this situation and you need to surf around iTunes for good quality ESL podcasts. Many of these are boring but a few are amazing. Different people like different ones so it is a good idea to try out a few before you stick to one.
Another tip I have from my teaching experience is getting students to overcome their shyness. This is a killer for spoken language. People are not shy to read or write, but speaking is a totally different thing. People are worried that their grammar is wrong or pronunciation sounds weird. Remember that native English speaker are used to hearing nonnative English speakers make “mistakes” all the time. It is normal for us and we almost do not even notice it. There is really nothing to be afraid of, no matter what your teacher may have told you when you were a young student.
So basically, listen to podcasts of your choice and practice speaking when you have a chance. The world is very international and it is easy to find native English speakers almost anywhere. If you cannot, you can use Skype or join an online community committed to constantly improving. You can learn together and learn from each other.
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