Delaney A who teaches English in Budapest shares the best way you can get conversation practice and let go of the fear of speaking. Delaney suggests getting a conversation mentor and will be happy to fill that role for you.
‘Tips from our teachers’ is a regular series we run on our blog where we ask our teachers to shares tips and advice on improving their language skills.
The best way to keep improving outside of lessons is to practice! Having as many conversations with a native speaker as you possibly can is going to exponentially improve your language skills. Not only will it improve your understanding of the syntax of the language, the grammar and proper placement of words in a sentence, and your pronunciation of words, but it will also boost your confidence. With more confidence, you will go out and speak English to strangers, which increases the amount of (you guessed it) practice!
In my opinion, the most interesting thing about the English language is the grammar. I find punctuation fascinating! I also find words fascinating. Being able to correctly use a unique word in a conversation to better express your feelings is such an accomplishment. That’s why it’s important that you keep practicing and improving your language skills.
You can use different methods to improve your language skills
There are many ways to practice English outside of our lessons. Using English to order your food or coffee is a simple way to do this, but I think the most fun way is to watch movies in English. Choose a movie that offers subtitles, but only turn them on when someone in the movie says a word in English that you don’t know. This might be quite a few times at first, but with each new film you’ll pick up more and more vocabulary. You’ll also learn English slang, which is always added fun!
The two most unusual things I do when learning a new language is covering my apartment with sticky notes. Write the word “Fridge” in English and post it to your refrigerator. Do this with everything! Friends might think you’ve gone mad, but seeing the words over and over again throughout the day will allow you to memorize the words much faster.
But if you’re looking for something on the go, DuoLingo is a great online app. It’s also free! You can use it whenever you have time and it covers learning from all of the following aspects: speaking, reading, and writing.
To get confident in your language skills, you need to practice
Having a mentor is the best way to improve spoken confidence. A mentor is one person that you have decided you can embarrass yourself in front of so that you don’t have to embarrass yourself in front of anyone else. It is a person you feel comfortable around, who encourages you, and who does a good job of correcting and improving your English so that you know you are using and saying words the right way. Once you know that, there’s no reason to fear when speaking to others.
When learning a new language, I’m definitely a shy speaker! The way I get over it is by working with a mentor on what I feel most insecure about. I allow myself to be embarrassed in front of a mentor because I am comfortable around them. I suggest shy speakers to do the same. The mentor can correct them and build their confidence through reassurance that they are speaking correctly. Then, it’s up to them to take the leap of faith. In all honesty, the more you speak to others, the less scary it becomes and the less shy you will be.
Understanding a word’s origin can help with learning vocabulary
Repetition, definitions, and understanding where words come from all help with picking up new words. Matching definitions to words is important for using the words correctly. Using images to learn new nouns and verbs is the best way to lock the words into your memory. The origin of words is useful for figuring out what a word means if you’ve never seen it before. For example, “ped” is Latin for foot. You don’t have to know that, but if you know that “pedal” is something you step on with your foot, then you can better remember that “pedestrian” is someone travels by foot.
Try immersion or precise work to improve your accent
Immersion is the best way to modify your accent. If you can spend time where native speakers live, then your brain will begin to correct and improve your accent automatically. If you can’t be near natives all of the time, then actively correcting the way you say certain words, based on how your mentor instructs you to do so, is the next best tactic!