There are many skills to learning English, from reading and writing to gestures and intonation, but it is learning English conversation that is the most important skill. Languages are used to communicate, and the most common use of a language is that of spoken conversation.
However, learning to speak English is difficult, for a number of reasons. Here are just a few to bear in mind:
- Input is easier than output. You can listen, read, and understand. Keywords, emphasis, and the ‘feeling’ of the language helps understanding and this means you can understand the general meaning even if you do not understand 100% of the language.
- Spoken fluency is subconscious. When you speak in your native language you do not think about each word. You speak as you think, at the same time. Thinking about each word slows you down and harms the message.
- Errors can change meaning. A small error in vocabulary or word order can mean you are saying something completely different to what you mean!
- Shyness: It can be difficult to speak English in front of others, because you worry they will not understand you or that you will speak too slowly.
Why learn conversational English?
There are many reasons why you must find ways on how to have a conversation in English . Firstly, you may have an academic goal – a university exam, an entrance test – you may have a business goal – for work trips, for talking to overseas branches of your company – or you may learn for yourself. This can mean you simply practise reading and writing all day long.
BUT… English is about communication. Concentrate on daily English first. Learning to speak English means you have an extremely valuable tool to help you learn. Instead of going through a thick book of business vocabulary page by page, you can learn through actual discussions.
Learning conversational English means you can discuss anything you like with native speakers: so if your target is academic English, you can discuss your subject in English, and you will learn a LOT about how to talk and write about it. Speaking shows context, increases vocabulary, reveals collocations, and much more.
Start simple, and build your ability up.
How to have a conversation in English
- Online English lessons
There are now thousands of English teachers online and ready to teach you. Some are business-focused, some academic, and some are just happy to chat! All of them will be able to teach you how to hold a conversation in English and, most importantly, let you practise in a safe, friendly setting.
- Chat sites and message boards
The internet is full of message boards you can practise on, and they will teach you a lot about REAL English. Not the form of English you see in textbooks, but the real, casual, everyday language used around the world. Also, message-boards give you time to think about what you are going to say, and to see the atmosphere of the other speakers before joining in.
- Go out and speak to English speakers
Don’t be shy! If you live in your own country, there will probably be many foreigners who want to chat with you. That is why they are there too! However, remember they may not want to be “teaching” you. Just chat, and relax. Help them learn a few phrases of your language too!
Learning English conversations can look like a difficult thing to do, but it is surprisingly easy when you try! Furthermore, there are many ways to practise, and the newest and most convenient way is to use an online English teacher to help you get used to speaking English. Good luck!
Task: Can you match the phrases from the article with their meaning?
bear in mind part of the mind you are not fully aware of
overseas branches become familiar with
get used to parts of a company that are overseas
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