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Five ways to improve your spoken English

Joseph Mathenge speaking during re-launch of Involvement  /file

Joseph Mathenge speaking during re-launch of Involvement

Earlier today I attended an entrepreneurship conference on campus. I noted a great disparity between how the ladies and guys spoke. While ladies spoke with such eloquence that you would be forgiven for mistaking them for native speakers most of the guys could hardly express themselves. This prompted me to compile the following list on 5 ways of improving one’s spoken English.

1)    Practice and more practice

It is true most guys graduate from college speaking worse than they did back in high school. Guys, especially in public varsities, have this misconception that speaking to one another in English is way too metro-sexual. Hence they opt to use slang which is detrimental to ones linguistic abilities. Make a point of speaking in this language on a daily basis especially to people who do it fluently. As the old adage goes ‘practice makes perfect’.

2)    Avoid phony accents

Avoid using the music videos language and imitating TV presenters with phony foreign accents. Speaking with a Cajun accent especially if you haven’t lived in New Orleans long enough will only make you sound like a wannabe. Learn how to speak perfect without infusing any accent into your speech. When talking in before a crowd, avoid speaking too fast. Be deliberately slow so that the audience gets every single word you say.

3)    Read out aloud

It is advisable to read out aloud well written magazine or newspaper articles for 20 minutes daily. This will exercise your ‘English speaking muscles’. For the first few weeks you will often bite your tongue and have muscle-pains around your mouth feeling really exhausted. With time your finesse will increase considerable. Do this for at least an hour the day before you go to a function that you will be required to speak.


4)    Eliminate your Mother Tongue Influence

Mother Tongue Influence (MTI) is arguably one of the most difficult things to eliminate. Hiring a speech therapist would be the most effective way of achieving this, but not all of us can afford that. The other way is to stream speech tutorial videos on YouTube. Watch the mouth movements of the speakers and carefully note the pronunciation. Do this in front of a mirror so you can watch if you doing it correctly.

Learn where to give stress and how to modulate your pitch. Then get tongue twisters with the words you have most difficulty in pronouncing and practice saying them out aloud daily.

5)     Use the correct grammar

Since we live in the age where texting is most prevalent form of communication most prefer using short forms. Using ‘x’ in place of  ‘s’ is doing great damage to how we speak. Whenever you learn a new word find out how it is pronounced from a dictionary. Use the correct grammar in your conversations, emails and texts.

Adopting some Swahili words then trying to make them sound English and infusing them to official conversation is injurious. Imagine calling your boss after lunch trying to explain why you will be running late after lunch “Sasa boss! Niko kwa Jam nacome…I went and kulard at this ka good resto out of town…

Remember, perfecting your spoken English will not happen overnight. Be patient, determined and follow the above tips diligently. In a few months you might just speak like a native.



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