If you are new here please read this first.
This website is all about improving your ability to SPEAK in English, I’m pretty sure you’ve realized it by now! 😉
You see – traditionally most foreign English speakers struggle with speaking because writing, reading and listening is something you’ll learn at school.
It’s only the speaking part that’s being neglected.
Usually my advice is – speaking comes first (simply because you’re already quite good at other aspects of English) and that’s what you have to be focusing upon – writing, reading and listening won’t contribute into your spoken fluency.
So the basic issue here is that nobody really tells you that being engaged in a specific English related activity doesn’t develop other aspects of your English.
If you spend most of your time reading, it’s not going to develop your ability to understand other English speakers.
If you mostly write essays, its’ not going to make you into a good English speaker.
And if you’re good at speaking, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can write just as well!
And this illustrates another issue that some English learners are facing.
Namely – all four aspects of English – speaking, reading, writing and comprehension – have kind of been merged into one thing, and instead of working on ONE aspect of their English that requires the most attention, they’re under the impression that they have to do EVERYTHING which becomes too overwhelming ❗
Figure Out What EXACTLY It Is You Need!
Let me remind you once more – if you’re facing the typical English fluency issue whereby you’re good at other aspects of your English but you just can’t speak fluently, then it’s a no-brainer – you need to focus on SPEAKING.
But if you’re having issues with some other aspect of your English, then you really need to sit down and think about it long and hard before you start taking any action.
You have to single out the most pressing issue and take appropriate action.
If you perceive the English language as one big discipline, you’ll just keep going in circles without a clear goal in sight.
For example, if you’re struggling with English comprehension and you’re having difficulties understanding what other English speakers are saying in real life, in movies and in songs, you have to ask yourself the question:
“What is it EXACTLY that I’m struggling with?”
Sure enough, on some occasions you may be struggling with a number of things, but your task here is to figure out what your BIGGEST issue is.
Your answer should be very short.
Now that you’ve defined the actual problem, you have to figure out what kind of activity is going to DIRECTLY contribute into the improvement of your problem area.
Well, just think about it.
When you read, do you LISTEN?
When you read, you just READ and you develop your READING comprehension.
I guess you don’t have to be a genius to figure out the simple thing – in order to develop your listening comprehension, you have to LISTEN to a lot of English.
And the very same goes with any other English related issue you may be having.
Problems With READING – You Have to READ A Lot!
Problems With WRITING – You Have to WRITE A Lot!
Problems With SPEAKING – You Have to SPEAK A Lot!
Problems With LISTENING – You Have to LISTEN A Lot!
I hope I don’t sound too patronizing.
I’m just saying it because I know for a fact it may seem like that for some people, but the actual reason I’m using such simple language is the following:
It really isn’t obvious to a lot of people unless you point it out to them ❗
The traditional English teaching industry has done one hell of a job by mixing all English learning activities together thus making it hard for the student to understand what’s what.
Yes, generally it’s a good thing – I mean, I’m a strong believer in a total English immersion where you don’t engage in just one SINGLE activity but you enjoy your entire life through English by speaking in English, watching TV in English, reading English fiction and newspapers and all the rest.
The point I’m trying to make here is the following, though:
If a particular area of your English is lagging behind, you have to be very SPECIFIC in terms of what you’re going to do about it.
If your English reading is not up to scratch, there’s no point in buying yet another advanced English workbook. Buy a novel written in simple language (young adult fiction is one of the best!) or if you’re not into that kind of thing – just go with tabloid newspapers.
Just make sure you read something that you’re TRULY INTERESTED IN! It’s the key!
Some English students make the mistake of trying to read something very complicated because they feel they SHOULD be doing it. In reality it’s the easiest way of setting yourself up for failure!
You’ll make the biggest improvement to your reading comprehension if you start reading something very simple (children’s encyclopedias are great!) and then work your way up by reading news articles etc.
More info on reading improvement:
- How To Achieve Fluent English Reading Knowing Only 70 – 80 % of Vocabulary!
- 4 Reasons Why Any Foreign English Speaker Should Read English Fiction
If your English writing is the problem area – don’t just start studying English grammar.
Many English learners make this mistake because their reasoning is happening the following way:
“When I write, I can’t create good sentences. My sentences aren’t good because my grammar is bad. If I improve my grammar, my writing is also going to improve!”
And so they spend a lot of time studying grammar only to find out their creative writing hasn’t actually improved that much…
The reason why it’s happening is quite simple – in order to improve your writing you have to WRITE.
You have to write regularly (keep a diary in English, write about events from your past – just remember to write something YOU’RE interested in, it’s the KEY!), and over time you’re going to develop the ability to construct good sentences. Sure enough, grammar also plays part in the whole thing, and I don’t doubt you’ll find grammatically well-constructed sample sentences in English workbooks which you can actually USE in your writing.
But they key here is to actually WRITE.
You’re not going to achieve significant improvement, unless you PRACTICE, it’s as simple as that!
And here’s a couple of actionable articles on writing:
- 3 Killer Tips on How to Write in English Like a Native Speaker!
- Is It OK to Use Conversational Phrases in Formal English Writing?
When it comes to listening comprehension, the most important thing to bear in mind is that you won’t develop this skillset by listening to fast English speech most of which you simply don’t understand!
I mean – how on Earth would you expect someone to somehow “pick up” English by listening to something they don’t UNDERSTAND in the first place?
Well, the process would happen, but it would be very, very slow.
Yet this is exactly the kind of thing that so many foreign English learners are trying to do! They throw themselves in at the deep end thinking that if they expose themselves to fast English stuffed with slang just like spoken by native speakers in real life, they’ll get the best results.
It’s not the case!
Once again – the KEY is to start SIMPLE and listen to something you’re truly interested in ❗
YouTube, for example, is full of various documentaries narrated by speakers using easy-to-understand language. Find something you enjoy watching, and then build upon that over time!
- My Honest Opinion on Developing English Listening Skills
- How to Develop Good Ear for English Listening
What About Grammar?
You may think that I haven’t looked at one aspect of your overall English skills – grammar.
Well, guess what?
Grammar is NATURALLY included in all the previously mentioned aspects of the English language, and there’s no need to single it out as a discipline on its own!
I mean – when you read, you naturally absorb correct grammar patterns. The same thing happens when you listen. And when you write or speak, your task is to USE those grammar patterns as ready-to-go blocks instead of creating sentences from scratch as a translation from your native language.
Yes, grammar is involved in everything, but studying grammar rules just on their own isn’t necessary – it’s so much more productive to engage in other activities that will enable you to improve your grammar naturally by a way of practicing your English.
Well, if it doesn’t – feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section below! 😉
So, to recap, here’s the biggest take-home lesson from today’s article:
Speaking is what you should focus upon provided all other aspects of your English are up to scratch. If you lag behind on any of them, however, don’t try to improve your overall English by doing EVERYTHING. Single out the biggest problem, and then engage in a lot of INTERESTING practicing that develops that particular aspect of your English. And remember – always start simple and work your way up instead of throwing yourself in at the deep end!
P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!
P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!