Introduction to Spoken English


If you want to improve your spoken English without spending thousands of dollars on English lessons, there are 4 areas you need to work on;

1) Pronunciation

The first step to good to English is good pronunciation.

If your pronunciation is bad people will not understand what you are saying.

Having good pronunciation means you will be able to make all the different sounds used in English, and people will easily know which word you are saying.

Pronunciation versus Accent

Many of my students believe their English is bad because they have an accent.  This is not true, an accent means people may know you are foreign but will still understand you.  For example many Swedish and Indian people speak excellent English and are extremely easy to understand, but still have a different accent to English and American people.

Having good pronunciation means you will communicate well, having a “good” accent means people may think you are English or American.

 Remember you do not have to have an English or American accent for people to understand you!


2) Listening

Listening means being able to understand what is being said to you.  You do not always have to understand every word to communicate effectively.

There are different types of listening activities which improve these different areas.

Listening Accuracy

Hearing which word or sound is being said.  For example being able to hear the difference between ‘bill’ and ‘pill’.

Gist  Listening

Understanding the general idea.  For example if someone wanted to buy something from you in a shop, you would understand what they want, but you may not understand everything they say.

Detail Listening

Understanding specific details of what is being said.  For example if someone was describing a person to you, you would know what color their hair is, what color their eyes are and so on.


3) Fluency

Often people say someone is a fluent speaker to mean they are very good at English.  It actually means speaking without pauses, fluidly.  So someone could speak very fluently but if they had terrible pronunciation you wouldn’t understand them.  Or someone could only know a few phrases, but be able to say them without pausing, and so they would have good fluency.

Becoming fluent is important to make people feel more relaxed and comfortable when speaking to you.  If you have long pauses when you speak, people may get frustrated.

4) Rhythm and intonation

The timing and pitch of speech.  A sentence can have a different meaning if the pitch goes up or down.  For example if you say really one way you sound surprised and interested, but if the pitch goes a different way it sounds like you don’t believe the other person.

Having good rhythm and intonation will help your English sound natural and easy to understand.



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