According to our survey, the majority of English learners say they need to improve their speaking and listening skills. Even though most of them have been learning English for over 5 years, they still find speaking difficult.
When they say that their English is not good, they usually mean that they cannot speak the language very well.
In response to the question 'Where have you studied English?', 80% answered 'at school'.
The other options were: in a language academy, at work, by myself, or abroad.
In response to the question 'What do you find most effective when learning English?', 90% answered 'developing speaking fluency'.
'Working on new vocabulary' got only 50%.
English learners tend to feel shy and embarrassed when it comes to speaking.
Here is what learners of English usually say:
Why do you use the same sentences and cannot think of other ways to express yourself?
You may be one of those learners who read grammar rules and do exercises regularly, but this does not mean that you will easily access this knowledge while speaking. It is one thing to read a rule and do exercises to practise, and another thing to use the grammar structure automatically.
The reason why you struggle with using a large vocabulary and more complex sentences is because you have gained that knowledge, but you have not made it part of the existing one. In other words, you seldom access what you have learned. You may practise by doing different exercises, but when it comes to using that knowledge in spoken or written language, you never do that.
Let's say you have recently studied irregular verbs.
Simple example: go - went - gone/been
Students often forget to use 'went' instead of 'go' when they talk about something that happened in the past.
To the question, 'What did you do at the weekend?', they would reply whatever they did using 'go'.
You may have spent a few hours trying to remember every single irregular verb. Yes, you have that knowledge in your head and it really is there, but you still do not use it automatically.
You need to practise using the verb form in order to be able to access this information naturally.
The same explanation is valid for your range of vocabulary. You cannot think of synonyms of words and phrases to express what you are trying to say because you have not made them part of your active vocabulary.
Note: In order for a word to be part of your active vocabulary, you need to have used it at least 20 times. Just writing it on paper won't help. You need to use it actively in speaking or writing.
Is your communication in English effective?
Foreign people will probably understand what you are saying in English even if you haven't learned grammar very well. You can rely on different strategies to express yourself.
Examples of communication strategies:
It is important to know that these strategies usually maintain the illusion that your English is fluent and they can buy you valuable time to process the information when having conversations.
On the other hand, you may end up relying too much on strategies instead of improving your English competence. There is something called 'interlanguage', which is the current version of the language you are learning. Interlanguage is often influenced by your native language and it usually changes over time, but it can also fossilise when you do not have the chance to improve.
Most English learners achieve early fluency by using the little language they have. This can prevent them from improving because they overuse memorised words and chunks of information, incorrect word order, throwing in vocabulary to express themselves.
Will studying grammar guarantee you speaking English naturally?
Even if you study grammar, it doesn't mean you will be able to speak English automatically in face-to-face interactions. What can really help you improve this skill is interactive real-time talk.
Regardless of how much vocabulary and grammar you know, you will still feel unprepared in the real world. You need to have opportunities to practise speaking spontaneously.
The main difficulties English learners-speakers face:
English Study Habits:
How to learn new vocabulary
How to remember vocabulary
How to use a dictionary effectively
Learn the difference between some English words:
Confusing verbs: Say vs. Tell
Confusing verbs: Speak vs. Talk
Confusing words: Come vs. Go
Confusing words: Bring vs. Take
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DO YOU WANT TO PRACTISE SPEAKING ENGLISH IN A GROUP?
Practise speaking English with other learners of English for 7 days.
Record a voice message of up to 10 minutes and share it with others for feedback.
Interaction is encouraged, so you can learn from others.
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