If you’re a teacher, the chances are that – like many other school staff – your students may say all the words and phrases in the world, but they still struggle with spoken English. There are many reasons for this, most notably early childhood education’s emphasis on teaching oral language through reading stories or reciting memorized poems.
While there is no silver bullet to helping people improve their spoken English skills, there are things you can do to help them break through their mental blocks and succeed at speaking more fluently than ever before.
Here are ten strategies that have been proven to work time and again on how to improve English:
- 1. Use Games & Interactive Activities
Games are a fun way to work on speaking skills in the classroom, and there’s no better way to practice speaking than with another person! Games have been proven as one of the most effective tools for developing spoken English.
Consider creating a game or a series of games for your students, where everyone can join in and win points by correctly picking words out of their own knowledge base and the other person’s. Decide on themes that would interest your students and treat them like characters within those themes. For example, “Who is the biggest hero?” can be turned into “Who is the biggest dinosaur?” and so on.
- 2. Use Original Material
Many students will have English school material, whether it’s being used for coursework or for homework. Re-purpose it into a speaking activity by putting language into words that would be difficult to write down in English!
Students will enjoy working on speaking by reading this material and then saying it out loud in front of the class. Also, consider creating a website with the original material online, so your students can learn from their own screen and practice their spoken English skills at the same time.
- 3. Use Self-assessments
Once students have practiced their spoken English, it’s important that they learn how to self-assess and improve. One of the best ways to do this is by using peer evaluations.
Put students into pairs and give them some criteria to work on, like avoiding using filler words (like “um” or “uh”) and making sure that they include every part of a sentence (in other words, verbs must be included in each sentence). Once they’ve given their peer an evaluation, they will then receive one themselves.
- 4. Teach with Quizzes & Games
One of the most strategic ways to improve students’ spoken English is by using quizzes and games. These make students more engaged, and they can easily practice Pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar.
If you plan to teach through quizzes, make sure to give a quiz every few weeks so that students can really focus on improving each time around.
- 5. Encourage Listening Activities
It can be very difficult for students to improve their spoken English if they don’t take the time to listen to native speakers in action. Make sure that there are always plenty of videos on offer for your students and encourage them to listen and watch them whenever possible. They will be much better able to understand their English vocabulary if they are interpreting it visually.
- 6. Create a Book Club
Teachers can also make a huge difference by encouraging the whole class to get together and talk about books. Find a non-fiction book that is based on topics that are relevant to your students and encourage them to discuss it with each other. A book club will give students some ideas of how they can approach how they speak and how they communicate in different situations.”
- 7. Practice Pronunciation
Some students have trouble with Pronunciation, especially because many don’t have much of an opportunity to listen to native speakers in action. One of the best ways to get around this is by practicing the phonemes that are hard to pronounce and then practicing them again and again until your students are able to hear what they should be hearing. You can use this tool, which provides video demonstrations on how to say all kinds of sounds.
- 8. Improve vocabulary
Improving vocabulary is one of the best ways for students to improve their spoken English skills, as it can make a huge difference when it comes to their fluency or confidence.
Students need to understand how vocabulary can help them communicate more effectively, so use examples of native speakers who have used vocabulary in a way that makes sense.
- 9. Choose Material That Matters to Students
The best way to get students to practice their spoken English skills is by using material that matters to them. This could be about the area where you live or something that students have studied before, like the content of an English class. This would be a good way to work on Pronunciation because it would give students the chance to practice accents, voices, and intonations that are specific to certain places.
- 10. Give Personal Feedback
Giving personal feedback is a great way for students to improve their spoken English skills because it helps them to understand what they might be doing wrong and work on improving it.
If you are going to give personal feedback in front of the whole class, make sure that you wait until the end of a lesson so that everyone can benefit from it and also so that students can’t use the examples as an excuse for being particularly bad at something.
Spoken English is a key skill for students to master, so it’s very important that teachers encourage their students to improve it. There are plenty of ways that teachers can do this, from using games and interactive activities to creating quizzes, using original material, and more. One of the best ways you can reach out to more kids and teach them is by connecting with us at Classplus, where we help teachers get digital by giving teachers their own app and place to sell course online. All these activities boost not only vocabulary but also confidence and fluency, meaning that your students will be able to speak with confidence in just about any situation.