Wednesday, January 2, 2019

5 Ways to Practice Your Speaking Outside the Classroom!




By Isabel Solano





Chances are you already have some ideas on ways to practice your English skills on your own. Turning on English subtitles while watching your favorite TV shows, listening to music or reading a book in English are all great ways to practice while doing activities you enjoy. These are all excellent habits to keep! However, these forms of practice mostly provide a way to improve your passive skills, like listening and reading. But how about your productive skills?

In the classroom, you have the opportunity to practice your speaking and pronunciation through error correction and choral repetition exercises that your teacher provides. But practicing your speaking and pronunciation doesn’t have to stop when you leave the classroom. Here are some ways you can ACTIVELY practice on your own and at no cost:

1. “Hey, Siri”: Take advantage of voice recognition tools on your smartphone. This is a great way to practice your pronunciation and question formation structure. Ask Siri question types that you’ve learned so far: Hey, Siri. How old is Madonna? Or what’s the best Chinese restaurant in my area? Is Siri asking you to repeat? Try again until she can  understand you.

2. Voice-to-text: Similarly, using any voice-to-text options on your phone are a great way to practice your pronunciation. Use the apps readily available on your smartphone, such as: Notes, iMessage, etc. You will see a tiny microphone icon   that will allow you to convert speech into text. Practice minimal pairs you find challenging and repeat them until the text comes out correctly. For example: very vs. berry or cheap vs. sheep, etc. This is also great for new vocabulary you learn in class. Don’t forget to save those notes!

3. Imitate, record, compare: The Voice Memos app is another handy resource available to you at your fingertips (it should already be downloaded to your phone). Use this app to record yourself and listen for errors. I recommend choosing a short sample of speech from a movie, TV show or even a TED talk that you like. Practice reciting it as you record yourself. Then, play both recordings and compare. Find the words you need to work on (if any) and practice until the recordings sound more and more similar. This particular tip is also very useful when working on accent reduction!

4. Meet up with Meetup: Let’s take this out this out into the real world! Meetup.com is a useful website that makes it easy to connect with people with shared interests.  Here you’ll find many language exchange meetups to choose from. Help others practice a language you master, as they help you practice your target language, i.e: English. It’s also a great way to make new friends, network in the city and more.

5. Tandem:  Lastly, if you’d like to connect with people all around the world, Tandem is a free and engaging app that will connect you to thousands of speakers of different languages eager to help you practice your English in exchange for helping them practice your native language or any other language you’re fluent in. Through Tandem you can text or call or both! The options are endless!

Which of these tips would you like to try first? Do you have any other ways to practice your speaking outside the classroom? Let us know in the comments!

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