Do you want to improve your speaking skills? Most English learners say they want to be able to speak more than anything else.

In this guide you will learn about:

  • formal and informal speaking
  • types of speaking practice
  • skills to practise
  • how to practise speaking online
  • tips and strategies for speaking practice
  • how to be a good speaker
  • conversation topics
  • types of questions in speaking exams

You can also consult the speaking glossary for any words about speaking that you don’t understand. It’s also important that you learn about pronunciation, a sub-skill of speaking.

Speaking is the second of the four language skills. It is called a "productive" skill because when we speak we produce language going out:
  1. listening (← in)
  2. speaking (out →)
  3. reading (← in)
  4. writing (out →)

Formal versus informal speaking

Just like in your own language, the way you speak depends on who you are speaking to or with. Informal speaking situations include speaking with close friends, family workers and probably co-workers. Slang, idiom and relaxed pronunciation are more common in these situations. Small talk becomes less necessary when you are speaking with friends, but is considered polite in an informal situation with acquaintances.  Sometimes your pace and volume shifts when you feel more comfortable. Formal situations require a different kind of language. Your speaking may even be rehearsed in some situations. You may feel nervous about saying everything properly. You must also consider manners and body language.

10 Speaking tips

  1. Listen first. Try not to think about what you are going to say as you’re listening. Focus on listening, then focus on responding.
  2. Make eye contact. It’s important to make eye contact when you’re listening and speaking. Even if you’re nervous, try not to look at the ground. If you’re doing a presentation, practise enough so that you don’t have to read every word from your notes. Visuals can help you in a presentation.
  3. Learn transitional phrases and useful expressions. You will keep your listeners’ attention if you know some key expressions that will make the conversation flow.
  4. Use gestures appropriately. If you’re in a foreign country, take time to learn about body language. Some gestures in your country may mean something different in another country.
  5. Relax. You don’t have to speak perfectly. Many native English speakers are also nervous when they have to speak out loud in a group or with people that they don’t know. Try not to show that you are nervous.
  6. Don’t say sorry. If you apologize for your English, people will expect it to be poor. Believe that you are a strong English speaker, and your listeners will believe it too. If you make a mistake, simply keep talking or correct yourself.
  7. Be yourself. Let your personality out! People will enjoy speaking with you because of who you are, not because of the language you speak.
  8. Keep it simple. As with writing it is important to speak in the simplest way you can. Don’t try to impress people with your large vocabulary. Use words and expressions that you are confident using.
  9. Pause and pace. Try not to speak too quickly, which may make it difficult for people to understand you. Listen to English speakers often to hear where natural pauses occur.
  10. Practise pronunciation, including word stress. One of the most important aspects of understanding each other’s spoken English is through the natural rhythm of our words and sentences. Native English speakers don’t think about word stress. They just speak. People who learn English as an additional language need to listen to English often in order to be able to use natural word stress.

sources : Original Link