Tag Archive: how to speak English well

Nov 21

How to improve English speaking skills in a context

CE CEFR full RGB 300dpi How to improve English speaking skills in a context

Most people want to learn English to speak to people. 
Most students say that they want to improve their English speaking.
All of this is great and makes the world a better place (people want to talk to other people, who cares which language they use)

But here is the problem….
Most people want to improve their speaking but they don’t know how to do it!

The world tests language in different ways.
The most common way in Europe is to test your language (English, Spanish, German, or any language) is to use the Common European Framework of Referencing (C.E.F.R.)

They divide language into levels

A1: Basic User    
A2: Basic User

 

B1: Independent User

B2: Independent User

 

C1: Proficient User

C2: Proficient User

 

and for each level, they describe what you need to pass the level with “Can do” sentences.
For example: 

At this level, the learner can describe their job, family and daily routine

 

Take a look at this extract
CEFR How to improve English speaking skills in a context

As you can see, there is no grammar, no vocabulary. Only a job. 
And actually there is much grammar and much vocabulary to you can use to do this job.
And again, there is a lot of practise needed before you can do this job.

So how do we practise?
Easy, spoken repetition of a job that needs you to use multiple grammar points and multiple pieces of vocabulary.
Doing this increases your ability to speak about other jobs that aren’t 100% the same.

Huh?
Ok, think about it like this.
Can I describe my daily routine? Yes
Then, can I describe the daily routine of someone famous? Probably, yes.

The two are not 100% the same but they are related in a way that means making one strong improves the other as well!
SPEAKING SPONGEBOB How to improve English speaking skills in a context

So we can see that as long as we practise one situation, we can improve our ability in many areas!

Put this together with the ’10 times’ practice, functional language and your other studies, you will be amazing in no time!
Don’t forget to follow our video curriculum if you want ideas for speaking practice.

I hope it helps
Happy Studies

Nov 14

Improve your English speaking with linkers of causation

23781529 6a7711ff29 Improve your English speaking with linkers of causation kris krüg via Compfight

Want the linkers study sheet?
Share if you like it

joining words

 

We have already talked about linkers (click here to read more). This is the fifth part which talks about joining words/ linkers for the job of explanation. If you want to improve your English speaking, try to use these linkers more.

I want to be a doctor because I want to help people

Or

Since I want to help people, I want to be a doctor.

 

Of course both of them are fine, number 2 is more specific and also more formal. It sounds better.

 

But why?

It has the same information (want and explanation)

It has the same vocabulary (verbs: be a doctor, help people)

It has the same grammar (2 present simple sentences)

 

So what makes this so special?

Again, like the previous posts: the linkers

 

What is a linker?

I hope you know what a linker is after 5 posts on the topic, but if you don’t know: a linker is a word or a group of words that we use to join two sentences together.

 

Explanation linkers

The basic idea is that we need to understand which action the reason. One action is the idea, the other action is the answer to the question “why?”.

You must remember that the reason can be a future desire or a past action that pushes you.

i.e. I am studying English in England because I want to go to an English university (future reason)

 

i.e. I am studying English in England because my father paid for it (past reason)

 

The general linker here is “because” and everyone uses it. It is extremely general and common. The specific linkers are much more advanced and some are easy to use.

 

i.e. I don’t eat fish because I don’t like the smell

[action,present simple] because [reason, present simple]

 

i.e. As I don’t like the smell, I don’t eat fish

As [reason, present simple], [action, present simple]

 

Much better and specific.

Linkers are a quick way to sound more advanced and increase your speaking skill without studying for hours.

 

Important

A common problem for many students is that they repeat the same general linkers again and again because they think that more specific linkers are too advanced or difficult for them to use.

 

There are five general types of linkers

linkers 5 Improve your English speaking with linkers of causation

 

Let’s look at some specific examples of “condition” linkers

 

“owing to the fact that”

491185247 f315ff6d86 Improve your English speaking with linkers of causation Funkyah via Compfight

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love eating hamburgers because they taste good

 

I love eating hamburgers owing to the fact that they taste good

 

“since”

6757849129 54c4f1ab10 Improve your English speaking with linkers of causation401(K) 2012 via Compfight

I am working in this company because I studied accountancy

 

Since I studied accountancy, I am working in this company

 

“in order to”

2455378401 893e6d1de6 Improve your English speaking with linkers of causation Mike Bitzenhofer via Compfight

 

 

 

 

I will call her because I want to explain the homework

 

I will call her in order to explain the homework

 

Using linkers like these is a great way to improve quickly.

linkers 5a Improve your English speaking with linkers of causation

Now it’s your turn:

 

Look at the article How to study and try the next few exercises

Can you find a reason why you do things in you life?

  1. I’m studying English in order to get a better job
  2. Since I like talking and going out, I have many friends
  3. I don’t go to the cinema owing to the fact that it is too crowded

 

Don’t forget to look at our other posts for language that makes you sound better but doesn’t change your meaning.

Functional language

Good pronunciation

And, of course, linkers

 

 

I hope it helps

Happy studies

Nov 11

The context syllabus: Homework 1 – Describing your routine

Want to improve your English speaking?

3106378545 dcff8c060e The context syllabus: Homework 1   Describing your routine Marwa Morgan via Compfight

 

Ok, but what do you need to do?

You need to practise speaking in context.

 

What is context?

Very simple. It is just a situation. You probably understand the present simple. You probably know exactly all the verbs. But the problem is putting them together.

 

Your homework:

 

Make a one minute video describing your general life and routine in English.

 

Specifics:

 

When you have made some sentences and practised speaking a few times, make a video and share it with us icon smile The context syllabus: Homework 1   Describing your routine

If you want me to check it there is a small fee, but feedback can be invaluable when speaking.
your feedback will focus on: grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, general cohesion (how well do your sentences work together), and any other extras that may come up.

Good luck!
Happy Studies

Oct 25

Improve your English: Linkers of condition

290555514 49c6b435ed b Improve your English: Linkers of condition Thomas Hawk via Compfight

Want a linkers quick study sheet?

joining words

We have already talked about linkers (click here to read more). This is the fourth part which talks about joining words/ linkers for the job of condition. If you want to speak better, try to use these linkers more.

 

Which one sounds better to you?

If I go out tonight, I will call you

Or

Providing that I go out tonight, I will call you.

 

Of course both of them are fine, number 2 is more specific and also more formal. It sounds better.

 

But why?

It has the same information (future possibility)

It has the same vocabulary (verbs: go out tonight, call you)

It has the same grammar (1 present simple, 1 future simple)

 

So what makes this so special?

Again, like the previous posts: the linkers

 

What is a linker?

I hope you know what a linker is after 2 posts on the topic, but if you don’t know: a linker is a word or a group of words that we use to join two sentences together.

 

Condition linkers

The basic idea is that we need to understand which action is dependent. There are two sentences, but one sentence only happens after the other sentence.

It is a good idea that you already are learning conditional grammar, but you don’t need to. The linkers work the same as “if”

The general linker here is “if” but everyone uses it. It is extremely general and common. The specific linkers are much more advanced and easy to use.

i.e. If I had wings, I would fly all over the world

2nd Conditional: If + [past simple], would + [V1]

 

Providing that I had wings, I would fly all over the world

2nd Conditional: Providing that + [past simple], would + [V1]

Much better and specific.

Linkers are a quick way to sound more advanced and increase your speaking skill without studying for hours.

 

Important

A common problem for many students is that they repeat the same general linkers again and again because they think that more specific linkers are too advanced or difficult for them to use.

 

There are five general types of linkers

linkers 4 Improve your English: Linkers of condition

 

Let’s look at some specific examples of “condition” linkers

 

“As long as”

2746291005 603c9fdbab Improve your English: Linkers of condition Giovanni Orlando via Compfight

If you watch this movie with me, I will watch that movie with you.

1st Conditional.

As long as you watch this movie with me, I will watch that movie with you.

 

 

“Supposing that”

138257637 28027731b8 Improve your English: Linkers of conditionTony Harrison via Compfight

 

 

 

 

If you had £10,000 extra, you would buy a Ferrari

2nd Conditional.

Supposing that you had £10,000 extra, you would buy a ferrari

 

“On condition that”

 

4721798240 0beb2a46ab Improve your English: Linkers of condition Βethan via Compfight

If had come to class on time, I would have allowed you inside

3rd Conditional.

On condition that you had come to class on time, I would have allowed you         inside.

 

 

Some of these are more typical with certain types of conditional, but the meaning is still communicated.

Using linkers like these is a great way to improve quickly.

linkers 4a Improve your English: Linkers of condition

 

Now it’s your turn:

Look at the article How to study and try the next few exercises to improve your English.

Can you make deals with your friends?

  1. As long as you bring me cake, I will do the work for you.
  2. Providing that you tell no one, I will give you some chocolate
  3. On condition that you pay me back, I will loan you so money.

 

Don’t forget to look at our other posts for language that makes you sound better but doesn’t change your meaning.

Functional language (preference)

Good pronunciation (speaking tutorial number 2)

And, of course, linkers (time)

 

I hope it helps

Happy studies

 

p.s. As always a few sites to help out

Oct 19

Fluent English: Linkers number 3: Time


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4498545165 52766134b6 Fluent English: Linkers number 3: TimeIan Sane via Compfight

Want a linkers cheat sheet?


We have already talked about linkers (click here to read more). This is the third part which talks about joining words/ linkers for the job of time. If you want to speak fluent English, try to use these linkers more.

 

Which one sounds better to you?

When I am 60 years old, I will be a millionaire

Or

By the time I am 60 years old, I will be a millionaire.

 

Of course both of them are fine, number 2 is more specific and also more formal. It sounds better.

 

But why?

It has the same information (future want)

It has the same vocabulary (verbs: be 60 years old, will be millionaire)

It has the same grammar (1 present simple, 1 future simple)

 

So what makes this so special?

Again, like the previous posts: the linkers

 

What is a linker?

I hope you know what a linker is after 2 posts on the topic, but if you don’t know: a linker is a word or a group of words that we use to join two sentences together.

 

Time linkers:

The basic idea is that we want to understand if the two sentences are at the same time or that one sentence is before/ after the other one.

So the general linkers here are not too clear but the specific linkers are more clear AND normally have typical grammar.

i.e. When I am 60 years old, I will be a millionaire.

When + present simple, future simple = we do not know if the one action is before or after. It is a general time linker

By the time + present simple, future simple = “by the time” means “before this time. So “before I am 60, I will be a millionaire”

Much better and specific.

Linkers are a quick way to sound more advanced and increase your speaking skill without studying for hours.

 

Important!!

A common problem for many students is that they repeat the same general linkers again and again because they think that more specific linkers are too advanced or difficult for them to use.

 

There are five general types of linkers

linkers 3 Fluent English: Linkers number 3: Time

 

Let’s look at some specific examples of “time” linkers

 

Before:

2535442335 ddf8cbf43f Fluent English: Linkers number 3: Time Or Hiltch via Compfight

Before I left my house, I ate breakfast

By the time (usually with a past/ future perfect simple tense to sound really advanced)

By the time I left my house, I had eaten breakfast

 

After:

2796629149 f5475f5837 Fluent English: Linkers number 3: Time غzǻҰёll ♥ RAINBOW ! via Compfight

 

 

 

 

I will buy you coffee after you give me money for it

As soon as

I will buy you coffee as soon as you give me money for it

 

 

At the same time:

43488803 e3f7607b2d Fluent English: Linkers number 3: Time Jeremy Price via Compfight

 

 

 

 

She will be at school and I will be at work at the same time

I was reading and at the same time you were watching TV

While / Whilst

She will be at school while I will be at work

I was reading whilst you were watching TV

 

linkers 3a Fluent English: Linkers number 3: Time

 

Using linkers like these is a great way to improve quickly.

 

Now it’s your turn:

Look at the article How to study  and try the next few exercises

 

Can you describe your day today? For example:

  1. By the time I left the house this morning, I had already eaten breakfast
  2. I am relaxing while I am listening to the radio
  3. I will buy lunch as soon as I start to feel hungry

 

Don’t forget to look at our other posts for language that makes you sound better but doesn’t change your meaning.

Functional language (opinion)

Good pronunciation (speaking tutorial)

And, of course,

linkers (linkers number 2: compare/ contrast)

 

I hope it helps

Happy studies

 

p.s. a few more articles to help out

 

Jun 30

Speak English fluently – Linkers number 2: compare/ contrast

 3470183543 43264ae294 Speak English fluently   Linkers number 2: compare/ contrast Wendell via Compfight

Put your language together well

We have already talked about linkers (click here to read more). This is the second part which talks about joining words/ linkers for the job of comparing and contrasting. Use these more to speak English fluently.

 

Which one seems better to you?

I love watching TV but I don’t like going to the cinema.

or

Although I love watching TV, I don’t like going to the cinema

 

 

Of course you will say “example number 2″ !

 

But why?

  • It is the same information (2 things I love)
  • It has the same vocabulary (verbs: love, activities: watching TV, going out)
  • It has the same grammar (2 present simple tenses)

 

So what makes this so special?

The linkers!

 

What is a linker?

A linker is a word/ group of words that we use to join sentences together. 

 

In the example we use “Although [subject] + [verb], [subject] + [verb]“.

Remember: the verbs can’t be the same idea, they must express an opposite idea

i.e. “Although I LOVE watching TV, I DON’T LIKE going to the cinema.”

‘LOVE’ and ‘DON’T LIKE’ are saying opposites.

 

This is a very specific example of a linker, and it is difficult to use, but it is common.

If you hear a person start a sentence with “Although…” you know that he is saying “but”

 

Linkers are a quick way to sound more advanced and increase your speaking skill quickly.

 

Important!!

A common problem many students have is that they repeat the same general linkers again and again because they think the more specific linkers are advanced grammar or too difficult to use

 

There are 5 general types of linkers and we’ll look at a different example each week.

linkers1 Speak English fluently   Linkers number 2: compare/ contrast

 

Let’s look at some specific examples of “compare/ contrast”.

Any situation where you want to speak about opposite ideas, its easy.

 

Although:

1460025318 e1ef3fe13f Speak English fluently   Linkers number 2: compare/ contrast Let Ideas Compete via Compfight

 

I have a degree in literature but I don’t understand poetry.

 

Although I have a degree in literature, I don’t understand poetry.

 

However:

 2336025560 c66cf58f0b Speak English fluently   Linkers number 2: compare/ contrast David via Compfight

 

My country has a great football team but it has a terrible rugby team.

 

My country has a great football team. However, it has a terrible rugby team

 

Despite: (this sentence needs specific grammar, look closely at the example)

 918757605 068a955ab4 Speak English fluently   Linkers number 2: compare/ contrast André Ferreira via Compfight

 

My brother is a good doctor but he smokes cigarettes.

 

Despite being a doctor, my brother smokes cigarettes.

 

contrastive linkers Speak English fluently   Linkers number 2: compare/ contrast

Using linkers is a great way to really advance your spoken English.

Now it’s your turn.

 

Remember the article about ‘how to study”? (click here to read it)

well, I have given you everything you need.

 

Your turn!

Make sentences using these to talk about:

  1. something you like but can’t eat
  2. a person who has something but still can’t do something
  3. a person who should not do something because he knows better

i.e.

  1. I like chocolate but I can’t eat it. I like chocolate. However, I can’t eat it. Although I like chocolate, I can’t eat it. despite liking chocolate, I can’t eat it.
  2. I have a car but still can’t travel. I have a car. However, I can’t travel. Although I have a car, I can’t travel. Despite having a car, I can’t travel.
  3. My brother is a doctor but he smokes. My brother is a doctor. However, he smokes. Although my brother is a doctor, he smokes. Despite being a doctor, my brother smokes.

Easy

 

There are a few things like this that don’t change your meaning and make you sound better almost instantly!

and now:

  • linkers

 

Linkers are incredibly useful, and when you are doing exams, like the Cambridge English exams or perhaps the IELTS exam, it’s is a requirement. Without linkers, passing the speaking exam will be hard.

(in the future, I might go into detail about techniques needed for the different speaking exams)

 

I hope it helps

Happy studies

 

p.s. a few more articles to help you with linkers

Jun 26

Guest post: Idiots Guide to Idiomatic Speech – FOR HIGHER LEVEL SPEAKERS

2330190282 1fc3a3ab80 Guest post: Idiots Guide to Idiomatic Speech   FOR HIGHER LEVEL SPEAKERS

Is it raining cats and dogs?

[This is a guest post written by Robert Julian, highly experienced English teacher]

How to incorporate natural language into your conversation

In learning a language, like in dreaming, it’s the strangest things that lodge in your head. Of the few idioms I learnt in Spanish, easily the most memorable was ‘No es moco de pavo ’which translates as (and even here I’m being cautious with the word ‘translates’) ‘It’s not Turkey dribble’. Let’s consider that for a moment. You might wonder how or where you would use an idiom relating to Turkey dribble. Maybe in the farmyard?   At the zoo? Working with sick birds in a veterinary clinic? Sorry. Not even close. Apparently it means (again very approximately) ‘This isn’t easy! Or to translate it into its English idiomatic counterpart ‘It’s no piece of cake’.

One of the charming things about idioms is that they often have absolutely no resemblance, in terms of superficial meaning, to the issue being discussed. Perhaps that’s why they are so interesting. They are linguistic oddities, like carnival freaks or sideshow entertainers.

Fun aside, the problem with longer memorised idioms is that they are often not as flexible or frequent as simpler idiomatic speech. Many idioms can be difficult to drop into conversation without sounding unnatural or old fashioned. You might have carefully learnt ‘It’s like borrowing from Peter to pay Paul’ but really, how often are you likely to use it without sounding like a dork? ‘It’s madness!’ would have been fine.

Language also changes fast. People are finally beginning to cotton on that ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ is simply not used. Not even by people in really rainy places. If you’d said ‘it’s chucking it down’ instead, you’d be streets ahead. Type ‘English idioms’ into Google and you’ll get a list of reader -submitted phrases that probably aren’t even used by the person who put them on the website. And who are these contributors anyway? Are they even native speakers? For example, the idiom ‘a back of the envelope calculation’ is hardly used at all in Britain. If you’d said ‘at a rough guess’ or ‘a rough calculation’ instead, you’d be on the money-at least on this side of the Atlantic.

So, when it comes down to it, keep your eyes and ears open, take the language from the context of what you’re listening to or what you’re reading, and remember shorter is often sweeter when it comes to dipping into idiomatic speech.

 

Some idiomatic speech used in this article

  • to lodge in your head 
  • not even close
  • it’s madness      
  • it’s chucking it down   
  • to cotton on 
  • streets ahead    
  • drop it into conversation      
  • rough guess    
  • ballpark calculation   
  • on the money     
  • dip into     
  • when it comes down to it       
  • to keep your eyes and ears open       
  • short is sweet

———————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Thanks very much to Rob Julian for that guest post.

Remember that idioms are a good to improve and they are needed to speak English fluently

I hope it helps

Happy studies

 

p.s. A few links to help you out

Jun 12

The “used to” structures: Speaking in context is the secret

522032651 a4efb16f62 The used to structures: Speaking in context is the secret darwin Bell via Compfight

If we keep with our idea of the 4 needs (click here to read more)

and the three filters (click here to read more)

we must understand that the most important thing is that the situation.

 

If we look at the first example (click here for the infographic)

  • Form: I used to + [verb]
  • Meaning: This was normal, I did this a lot
  • Situation: Past habit

 

So if the situation is important, we need to understand that the general or easy way to say this is maybe best with an example:

I ate a lot of hamburgers when I was young

I used to eat a lot of hamburgers when I was young

 

So you can see, one sounds better and more ‘advanced’ but both have the same meaning of “it was normal for me”.

 

This is the secret of speaking English fluently.

Not learning new words that are so big and specific that native English speakers don’t understand.

It is about using groups of words that are normal in specific ways. (click here to read more)

 

Here is the video. Enjoy.

 

Of course, there are always extra pieces of information and specific situations, but this is the general idea.

I hope it helps

Happy studies

 

p.s. As always, a few extra sites to help the point.

 

Jun 11

The “used to” structures – infographic number 3

Slide15 The used to structures   infographic number 3

Jun 09

English Speaking Tutorial number 2 – The Big Problem

2266026377 e486546200 English Speaking Tutorial number 2   The Big Problem Andras Pfaff via Compfight

This is the second English speaking tutorial. These tutorials focus on pronunciation and try to get you to exercise the muscles in your mouth. We have already done the first tutorial (click here to see more)

 

Many people practise many hours to improve their accent and pronunciation.

But

This one little trick helps you to change the pronunciation in the first five minutes!

 

The first time you try to say a word is very important

If you pronounce something a little different than native speakers the first time, your brain communicates with the muscles in your mouth and they agree that this is the best way to make the sounds.

If the sounds are wrong, you will spend many hours practising the wrong way in the beginning.

 

Isn’t learning connected with making mistakes?

Yes, but you must remember that you if you know something is a mistake and you still do it, you haven’t learnt!

 

So?

Ok, you can practise the pronunciation of a word much more accurately in the beginning. This saves you a lot of practice time!

Also, if you practise incorrectly in the beginning, you have wasted time and you need to practise many more hours to correct your bad habit.

 

The method

 

Try to copy the native speaker (that’s obvious) but use your fingers.

There are a few things you need to check.

1 – Is the jaw open or closed

2 – Are the lips open or closed

3 – How is the tongue used

4 – how does the mouth move from one sound to the next

 

Watch the video and check it out

  • Don’t be scared to ask the native speaker to repeat the word and few times.
  • Listen and compare your pronunciation and their pronunciation.
  • Ask them if it sounds good, they will hear the parts that are the worst.
  • Don’t feel shy, if you are starting to become annoyed or angry, just thank the native speaker and say:

“I’ll have to practise that word more a little later. Thank you for your help.”

 

Is this only for difficult words?

No, not at all. you can use this for groups of words too.

Remember that groups of words are just large groups of sounds. The same as big words are just groups of sounds. Practise the sounds and your pronunciation will get better and better

 

You must remember that pronunciation is not a mental activity, it is an activity that needs muscles!

These techniques helps you find the place where your pronunciation muscles need to be.

From there, you need to practise those muscles so they become stronger.

 

Do I need to do it for every word?

No, you will need to do this more in the beginning, but English is not different to learn than other languages. There are certain patterns in the pronunciation.

When you learn those patterns, it will be easy for you to learn new words because you will use patterns that you already know.

That is how people naturally improve.

 

If you are interested in more pronunciation and accent training, we have developed a special course to educate and help people practice (click here to read more) and we have given advice already on a few other things to help improve your accent (click here to read more)

 

I hope it helps

Happy studies

 

p.s. all these methods are from my experience, but I must credit a fantastic pronunciation expert; Adrian Underhill. The links are connected to his material.

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