Cambodian Education Forum
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
January 14, 2021
Using a universal language, English, as a means of communication between one another, is common nowadays. According to Encyclopedia (2020), the world’s most spoken language is English; it is spoken by approximately 500 million to 1.8 billion people worldwide. Around 300 to 400 million people speak English as a first language, and the rest speaks English as a second or foreign language. This is one of the reasons that the number of foreigners learning English keeps increasing. Regarding its wide range of use in many fields such as science, technology, education, business, finance and banking, tourism, and medicine, among others, English is being used in many more fields. Moreover, English can be the mode of communication officially used in business meetings and other international forums (Rao, 2019).
Consequently, many people study English as their second or foreign language because of the need for communication and other purposes. Therefore, improving our English speaking is something that we should endeavor to do. This article first addresses the need to improve our English speaking and then discusses some key strategies to improve it.
Why Should We Improve Our English Speaking?
Firstly, English is needed for communication either with native English speakers or with those who speak English as their second or foreign language. Students or workers who go overseas even need English more than ever to be able to communicate with other people. English allows us to communicate across borders, cultures, and languages. It is a global lingua franca; therefore, the ability to speak English is vital.
Secondly, through English speaking, we can express ourselves and share our opinions and ideas for different purposes. Good English speaking skills increase the chance for job opportunities. As Leong & Ahmadi (2017) pointed out:
The significance of speaking is indicated with the integration of the other language skills. Speaking helps learners develop their vocabulary and grammar skills and then better their writing skill. Students can express their emotions, ideas; say stories; request; talk, discuss, and show the various functions of language. Speaking is of vital importance outside the classroom. Therefore, language speakers have more opportunities to find jobs in different organizations and companies. (p. 35)
Thirdly, speaking is linked with fluency. To have a nice flow of conversation with people who do not speak our first language or mother tongue, our English speaking needs to be fluent. Who wants to hesitate and frequently pause while talking to someone. It is embarrassing, and the person on the other side might lose interest in continuing the conversation. A forceful ending might occur. Therefore, it is crucial to improve our English speaking skills.
Tips to Improve English Speaking Skills
Speaking is never an easy thing to deal with. It requires constant practice. Below are some of the useful tips to improve English speaking skills.
Starting to talk is the first crucial step to improve speaking skills. If none of the words is coming out, how do we know precisely what to improve? It is never too late to start; the first few words might sound small, but they are necessary for something bigger. So, try to talk as much as possible.
Take It Easy and Be Confident
“I feel stressed when someone in my class speaks English ﬂuently,” said a respondent in a research study by Suchona & Sadia (2019). If we are under pressure when speaking English, we should remember to have a faithful trust in ourselves and take a deep breath, and the pressure will be lessened. Once we speak with confidence, our speech turns out to be unique and interesting. The relaxation can be shown on our face, which affects the audiences’ moods and concentrations.
Learn from Our Mistakes
The despondency and sense of failure are caused by extreme anxiety growing from personality constructs such as anxiety, inhibition, and risk taking (Leong & Ahmadi, 2017). People make mistakes, and no one is perfect. We are human; there is no one to blame for the mistakes we create unintentionally. It is important to make changes by learning from mistakes, find the leading causes, and try not to repeat the same mistakes.
Listen to Native Speakers, Watch English Movies or Sing English Songs
Aside from entertainment, watching English movies is one of the effective strategies for improving accent and intonation as we have the chance to listen to native speakers. While watching our favorite series, we can imitate the actors’ speech, focusing on their expressions, pronunciation, stress, pitch, and tone. Likewise, while music can lift our mood up and down, we can take advantage of it to improve our speaking. The technique is to enjoy the music and sing along with it. It helps us to pick up the correct pronunciation as we replay our favorite songs from time to time.
Overcome the Fear
The humiliation from being among the weak group inside the classroom often leads students to become silent during class activities (Leong & Ahmadi, 2017). It is about overcoming the fear by using self-encouragement to remind and comfort ourselves that it is never wrong to share opinions. Be brave and try to reduce the negativity from thinking that others are better. Do not be afraid of showing our own ability. Rise up above our fear.
Record Our Voice
Sometimes when we speak, we tend to neglect our own voice. To have a good accent like a native speaker, recording our voice helps identify what needs to be changed and improved.
English is widely spoken around the globe, prompting people to learn it as a second or foreign language to meet the need for communication and other purposes. Improving our English speaking ability requires perseverance and consistent practice. The aforementioned tips may be helpful for enhancing this important skill. However, as people have their own preferences, it is a matter of what suits them best. There are plenty of other tips out there on the internet. We need to find what works best and then try to use it to our own advantage. Any tip works depending on how frequently the user applies it, and the effectiveness of the tip differs from one person to another.
Encyclopedia. (2020, December 21). English. https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/english-1
Leong, L. M & Ahmadi, S. M. (2017). An analysis of factors influencing learners’ English speaking skill. International Journal of Research in English Education, 2(1), 34-41. http://dx.doi.org/10.18869/acadpub.ijree.2.1.34
Rao, P. S. (2019). The role of English as a global language. Research Journal of English, 4(1), 65-79. https://www.rjoe.org.in/Files/vol4issue1/new/OK%20RJOE-Srinu%20sir(65-79)%20rv.pdf
Suchona, I. J & Sadia, S. A. (2019). Speaking problems in English and solutions: Scrutinizing students’ perspective. Shanlax International Journal of English, 8(1), 34-41. https://doi.org/10.34293/english.v8i1.661
Sothavotey Nhim is an intern at Cambodia Education Forum. She is a junior student pursuing a Bachelor of Education in English at the Institute of Foreign Languages, Royal University of Phnom Penh.