Speaking English as a Second Language

Most of my students studied English from textbooks in their native country. Some can read and write basic English well but few have practiced pronunciation or conversation. Fluent spoken English takes a lot of practice. In the past, audiotapes provided a model of learners. Later, VHS videotape language instruction we introduced. Today, learners can buy instructional DVDs, watch YouTube, or use numerous websites to develop their speaking skills.

Watching TV or cinema does not improve English fluency at all in my opinion. After all, this dialogue is all scripted and rehearsed in all dramas. Characters in drama sometimes speak in eccentric ways. Vocabulary in drama tends to be most basic, so even less educated people can enjoy it. When you keep in mind that literacy in the US has declined, you can be sure that less common words are not used in popular media. Finally, do you want to speak like yourself or like some actor in a drama?

A better idea is to use a webcam to video yourself speaking, then play it back. This way you can make sure you are shaping your mouth correctly. Simply read from a book or magazine while looking at the camera. Many laptop computers have build in cameras. Smartphones all have at least one camera, and newer phones have front facing cameras as well as the original lens on the back. I have an inexpensive Logitech webcam attached to my desktop computer at home. You can spend as little or as much as you want on a webcam, or simply load video files from your phone or digital camera.

The best way to improve your English speaking skills is the oldest, traditional method: conversation with a native-speaker who can correct even minute problems. Lately I am working with students one on one, so I can provide individual attention.



Paul C.

Business, academic, and casual English for adults from a native

600+ hours
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