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  • Writer's pictureGO2 Team

Improving Your English Speaking Skills at Work and Home

Updated: May 10


As a non-native English speaker looking for a new job, it can feel like the only way to improve your spoken English is to pay for expensive English lessons. Don't worry! This article will show you that there are many options that are quick, effective, and free. Use this guide to help you find out exactly where you need to improve, and the different ways you can get started today.

 

What are "Good English Speaking Skills" Really?


To help you understand what you need to improve, you need to know what having good English speaking skills really means:


Having Good English Speaking Skills Means:

Having Good English Speaking Skills does not Mean:

  • Giving information in a way that other people understand.

  • Being able to focus on the task you are working on, and not only on speaking English.

  • Having a big enough vocabulary to describe things in detail.

  • Being able to agree, disagree, ask questions, and give instructions.

  • Being polite.

  • Being able to describe what you mean when you don't know the 'right' word.

  • Speaking English with "no accent".

  • Speaking with an American or British accent.

  • Using specific phrases or words.

  • Knowing every English word in the Dictionary!

  • Having perfect grammar at all times.

  • Never making a mistake.

  • Speaking very quickly.

  • Always knowing the 'right' word for something.


Find Out Exactly What You Need to Improve


Step one for improving your English speaking skills is learning exactly what it is you need to improve. Is it your pronunciation, grammar, fluency, or vocabulary? If you don't know what to work on, try some of these ways to find out.


Free Ways to Learn What You Need to Improve

Paid Ways to Learn What You Need to Improve

  • Ask your native English-speaking friends or family for advice.

  • Ask for feedback from your interviewer.

  • Take an English-speaking assessment with a Language Trainer.

  • Take the Duolingo online test with results in 48 hours.

Look Up Common Mistakes for English Speakers with Your Native Language


Non-native English speakers with the same "mother tongue" (first language) will all have some shared difficulties when speaking English. This means that even with no assessment you can make some improvements to your spoken English.

 

There are word lists, pronunciation videos, grammar guides, and common mistake exercises for almost every native language, all available online. For example, you could search on YouTube for "Common issues for <your native language> speakers learning English".

 

Ways to Improve Your Spoken English


There are lots of ways you can improve your spoken English. Many of them are available to you at work and at home, and many are also free!

 

1. Speak English at Work and Home


There is no better way to improve your English speaking skills than using them. We learn languages by building physical connections between information stored in our brains. Speaking English makes those connections wider, stronger, and faster. This means that the more often you practice speaking, the more fluent you will become.


Here are some examples of ways you can improve your English speaking skills at work and at home:


  • Have English lunches at work where only English is spoken.

  • Socialize in English by finding local events that interest you on Meetup.com.

  • Have "English Sundays" where the people you live with only speak English that day!


Whatever you choose to do, just remember that if you only listen you will not improve your speaking. You need to practice speaking to become more confident and fluent!

 

2. Listen to Spoken English


You can also improve your English vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar by listening to other people talk:


  • Listen to podcasts that interest you in English.

  • Watch videos from the companies you are interested in working for on YouTube.

  • Look for English speaking talk-radio stations.


3. Use English Learning Apps


There are many English learning phone apps to choose from meaning you can learn a little any time, and these two are a good place to start:


  • Duolingo App - a free and effective English learning app that focuses on quick and fun lessons. It has a 14-day free trial, and is available on Apple and Android. Duolingo also has a paid option if you want to learn quicker.


  • FluentU App - a paid English learning phone app focused on learning English with real videos from the news and TV. It's available on Apple and Android, and has a 14-day free trial.


4. Take English Lessons with a Teacher


If you have tried all the other options and still have problems speaking English, you might be someone who learns better from a teacher. If you have used translation software to read this article, this is a sign that you would benefit from lessons. Private lessons are the fastest way to improve your English skills for an interview but will be more expensive than group classes.

 

You can join group English classes in your community, and there are lots of lesson opportunities online. Alison is a language learning service with English teachers who teach to large online groups for free. There is no teacher-student talking time, but this is a great option if money is a problem.

 

Common Problems with Speaking English and How to Fix Them.


There are some common reasons people have problems speaking English and we asked a qualified English Language Trainer for advice on how to fix them:

 

Fear of Making Mistakes


The most common problem with speaking English as a second language is being afraid to make mistakes. This is totally understandable, but it does stop you improving your language skills. Making mistakes is actually the fastest way to improve your skills because you learn more from a mistake than from getting things 'right'.

 

As a non-native English speaker mistakes are normal. What's really important is your work and being understood. If your English gets the job done, that's all that matters! Push yourself to try, and over time your confidence in speaking will grow.

 

Translating from Your Native Language


Translation problems come from thinking in one language and speaking in another. Many of your ideas will not translate well into English, and the extra thinking time slows you down. If you write a list of things you want to discuss, write it in English, and try to think in English. Then there is no translation time, and you won't get stuck on ideas that you can't translate into English.

 

Focusing on Specific Words or Phrases


When you know you need to speak in English it can feel like a good idea to plan words and phrases that you will use. The problem with this method is you can't be flexible. Natural conversation is flexible, so it is better to focus on understanding and being understood. The specific words you use aren't important, so don't plan them.

 

Only Speaking English with Native-Speakers


If you can practice your English speaking with Native-speakers that is great, but not everyone has that opportunity very often. To improve your fluency and practice your vocabulary it does not matter if your conversation partner is native or not. If you wait for a native speaker you could be missing opportunities to practice.

 

Wrap Up


If you have been told you need to improve your spoken English for an interview, try to look at this as good news. Now you know what you need to change for your interviews, and there are many guides and activities that can help you improve quickly. Focus on making progress and being understood, don't worry about 'perfection'.

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