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What can I do to improve my speaking?

If you want some tips to improve your English speaking skills, watch this short video from British Council tutor, Rob.
One question students often ask is how can I improve my speaking? If you live somewhere where you don’t have a lot of opportunity to speak English, this could feel like a big problem. However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to improve. The first piece of advice I would give is listen. It’s never been easier to listen to lots of English. The internet gives you access to millions of songs, podcasts, stories, video clips. There is so much stuff out there in English for you to listen to. And if you’re listening to songs, sing along. A lot of people find that it really helps. If you’re watching short video clips, pause them and repeat what you’ve heard.
Listening to get an idea of how people speak can really help you with your own speaking. One thing that a lot of learners find difficult about speaking is that they worry too much about making mistakes– grammar mistakes, vocabulary mistakes, and so on– and this worry stops them from speaking fluently. Remember, though, that speaking fluently is about accuracy, using language correctly, but it’s also about fluency. So of course you need to try to use correct English, but fluency is just as important. One tip here is to record yourself speaking English. You can try copying something you hear a native speaker say, or just record yourself talking about yourself or anything you want to.
Try speaking about a topic for a minute and see how you do. Another thing that students say a lot is how can I sound like a native speaker? My answer would be why do you want to? When you speak, the important thing is that people can understand you and you can communicate. If your accent makes that difficult for people, then there are things you can do to improve it. You can practise individual sounds. Find out which sounds cause problems for speakers of your language. You can practise intonation by listening to native speakers and getting used to the sound of sentence stress in English.
There’s a lot you can do to improve your spoken English, but you don’t need to sound like a native speaker. As long as people can understand you, that’s fine. On this page you can find links to help you find out more about the things I’ve mentioned, and you can share your own tips too.

Listen to Rob talking about things you can do to improve your speaking skills.

Add your own ideas in the comments below.

Here are links to some online resources to help with some of the areas Rob mentioned:


The Phonemic Chart – hear the sounds of English by clicking on the symbols, then hear sample words including the sounds and try practice activities.

Pronunciation activities to practise problem sounds.

The Sounds of English from the BBC.

Sentence stress – activities to help you understand and practise how sentence stress can affect meaning.

Record yourself

Vocaroo is one of the easiest ways to record yourself online and share recordings with others. You will have a chance to try this out later this week.

Test advice

These Exam speaking videos from LearnEnglish Teens give useful tips, vocabulary and practice in a range of tasks.

Our IELTS Interview Skills videos take a lighthearted look at some of the common problems and mistakes people make during the interview.

IELTS Practice Speaking Test

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Understanding IELTS: Techniques for English Language Tests

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