English is a difficult language to learn as a second language because there are many grammar rules to memorize and the spellings of words aren't always a good indication of pronunciation. According to Palomar College, there are approximately 341 million native English speakers, and there are a substantial number of English speakers in 104 countries throughout the world. Although English speaking may seem natural to those from English-speaking countries, people who speak English as a second language may need additional help to improve their English-speaking skills.
Learn the rules of English grammar, including rules for word order, sentence structure, parts of speech, verb conjugation and spelling. Knowing these rules will make it easier for you to form intelligible sentences in English.
Take a course in English language through a school or community organization. There are English as a Second Language (ESL) courses available through a variety of groups; some communities even have literacy volunteers to help ESL strengthen their communication skills.
Listen to native English speakers for cues about proper pronunciation, sentence formation, slang expressions and variations in speaking etiquette. Linguists will tell you that the rules for proper speech lie with the native speaker, so you are likely to learn more by observing others than to follow the strict guidelines of a textbook.
Immerse yourself in the language by surrounding yourself with native speakers and forcing yourself to speak English as much as possible. Don't worry about making mistakes in front of native speakers because your mistakes will only improve your speaking skills in the long run.
Watch television shows, listen to radio and read books in English to learn more about how native speakers use and pronounce words. The more you hear the language, the better you will be able to use it.
Watch yourself in a mirror as you practice speaking English, and observe the shape of your mouth with each sound and word you produce. You may find that your difficulties with pronunciation are a result of the ways in which you open your mouth and place your tongue.
Keep a translation dictionary with you so that you can translate unfamiliar words and then practice using them in a sentence. The best way to enlarge your vocabulary is to make a conscious effort of learning and practicing new words.
- Don't be discouraged by making mistakes in front of native speakers. Even if they laugh at your mistakes, you can rest assured that they would sound just as funny if they were trying to speak your language.
- Never try to learn English using only a textbook because textbooks don't provide you with audio pronunciations and cues about slang. Your curriculum should include a combination of textbooks, audio translations and conversational practice.
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