Speak out tongue twisters regularly, following the two rules below, and you’ll improve your pronunciation and fluency.
Before we jump into conversation topics you can speak on with your friends or just alone, let’s look at how to get most out of your conversations:
(This post comes from my experience of adding 5,000+ words to my active vocabulary, the one you can actually use when speaking and writing.)
Don’t you get impressed when a news anchor or other proficient speaker uses just the perfect word, and not a long-winded explanation, to describe a situation without a pause?
Those apt words are a result of a large active vocabulary.
We’ll learn more on what active vocabulary is later in the post, but in short it means vocabulary you can actually use when speaking and writing, the holy grail of any vocabulary-building exercise. If you introspect, you’ll realize that although you can understand lots of words when reading or listening (also called passive vocabulary), you can use only a minuscule fraction of that in speaking and writing (also called active vocabulary).
This post focuses on, first, building active vocabulary and, second, making this process efficient by building on words you already know – passive vocabulary – thereby making for faster progress.
Mispronouncing a word is one of the fastest ways to leave poor impression of your communication skills, especially when those listening to you are good at it. Even 1-2 pronunciation slipups in a 10-minute conversation are enough.
People naturally goof up at complex pronunciations (complex because the pronunciation can’t be inferred from the way the word is spelt, which is so common in English language), but I’ve observed many mispronouncing even common English words.
‘Despite years of trying, I’m not able to speak fluently in English.’
‘I can read and listen almost anything, but I’m average at speaking.’
‘I often get stuck while speaking, because the right words elude me.’
‘I first think in my native language, then translate into English, and then speak.’
‘I hesitate when pronouncing certain words, not sure what others will think of my mispronunciation.’
These, and other, thoughts may have crossed your mind while working on your English speaking skills.
In this post, I’ll cover how you can address these and other challenges that may be coming in your way to become better at spoken English.
Why be fluent in English?
That’s the first thing that comes to our mind. Whether you like it or not, English is the de facto language of business in many countries and for cross-border communication, and interviews for most meaningful jobs are conducted in English.
And its importance is only going to increase in future (point # 3 further down in the post).
I don’t need to convince you on importance of speaking fluent English for professional success. You would have observed this around you and probably experienced too.