Friday, January 31, 2014

How to Build Confidence in Speaking English | Learning English Speaking in TOEFL

How to Build Confidence in Speaking English | Learning English Speaking in TOEFL
Hello everyone and welcome back!
I can certainly say that almost all, if not all of my students when they first join my TOEFL class lack confidence in speaking. This is natural and normal when learning new skills, especially when it comes to languages. Since I'm an American living in India and my native language is English, I can certainly relate because I often lack confidence when trying to speak Hindi. The one major problem I have in speaking Hindi is that there are a lot of sounds that are difficult to pronounce correctly and just this fact alone has often made me feel uncomfortable trying to speak and learn the language.
For those of you who are looking to study abroad and are considering taking and or currently taking TOEFL, the only way to instill confidence is really to practice. There is an old English adage which goes like this "practice makes perfect". If you really think about this and I'm sure everyone can relate to this. Whenever you have learned a new skill, you've had to practice the skill until you mastered it. The same applies to languages. So, how can you practice?
There are many ways you can do this and I'm not going to start off with talking about how to do the speaking tasks just yet; this entry is merely about gaining confidence. As I've stated, there are many ways you can do this. First and foremost, you need to read. Reading is the one skill which will support all others. I've said this before in a previous post, but it's true. Reading a wide variety of subjects, articles, books and everything in between will increase your vocabulary, teach you grammar and different ways of expressing yourself. These areas you will need not just for writing. In a previous post, I discussed this and provided a number of websites for reading material, but the idea is for you to read and read as much as you can from many, many different sources.
The next is to listen to people speaking English. You can do this several ways. You can talk to people who speak English. You can watch English movies and television shows. You can also watch English news stations. You can also go to sites like Youtube and watch lectures, interviews and even movies to learn how words are pronounced. You will also be exposed to all the different ways in which people speak and use English.
Many radio stations in the United States stream their content online for free. Many follow a format known as talk radio. Talk radio is basically a format that only has talk shows, where the host will talk about different topics as well as interview guests. You can find talk shows on a wide range of topics from religion, sports, politics, business, entertainment and everything else.
This also exposes you to all the different ways people speak English, particularly in the United States. By listening to people speak, you can learn how words are pronounced.
Writing is another way of practicing and this will support your speaking. Even though speaking is generally less formal than writing, you at least are learning the structure of English, meaning grammer, and how it should be applied to your speaking. Now you can practice writing by visiting and visiting the writing forum. We frequently post topics for students to write. You can also write summaries of all that you have read and listen to. This will help you to retain and train your brain for when you take the test because you will be better able to pick up the main ideas as well as details and other aspects of the reading or listening you will encounter in the test.
Now, all the things I just talked about support your speaking. So what do you need to do to practice speaking? First, take every opportunity to speak English. If you have friends or family members who speak English, only speak English with them. Tell them you are preparing for TOEFL and I'm sure they will gladly help you in this manner. Second, after you read something or listen to a lecture or interview, give a short verbal summary. Summarize what you have read or listened to. You don't need to speak this to someone, just to yourself.
Another thing you can do is to read out loud and try to read in a normal and natural voice, with a natural flow and rhythm. To help you out with this, go again to sites like Youtube and watch English music videos that have subtitles (you can even try it without subtitles) and sing along with the songs. This will help you to get the flow and rhythm of English as well as the proper pronunciations.
If you have a mobile, or you can use the sound recording on your computer, you can record your voice when you practice speaking. In this manner, you will catch your mistakes much easier. It's hard to catch them otherwise, but in this manner, you should be able to quickly catch them and once you know what they are, you can work quickly to correct them.
Train yourself to think in English. You can do this by talking to yourself in English. Do this when you practice and study and when you are alone. When you are alone, no one is going to know and bother you, but what you will be doing is strengthening and building your English speaking skills.
The bottom line is really practice. The more you practice the better you will be and the more confident you will be. Remember, you are taking TOEFL to show that you have a certain level of English proficiency. This is the reason why you are here taking and learning how to score high on TOEFL.
Now, I do not want to downplay the reasons for your being here (and I'm very happy you are here), but let us put perspective on this. TOEFL is just a test and only a test. What my goal and my hope is that you learn and gain the confidence in using this new skill called English. While a good TOEFL score will get you into a great university and is required by many universities, that is all you are going to get from TOEFL and that is all TOEFL will do. However, good proficiency in English will take you much farther. It will open opportunities you may never have dreamed of. Your world will become bigger and richer, because you will be able to communicate and interact with a larger group of people. This is the beauty of learning English.
Again, it all boils down to practice and making a commitment to do this practice. This is what is going to build your confidence. There are really no special tricks or magical charms or spells that will give you confidence. The more you practice, the more your brain gets accustomed to this new skill and the more confident you become in using this skill. Devote as much time as you can practicing, especially speaking, but practice each skill daily.
Now..... GO OUT AND PRACTICE!!!!!!! YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'll get off my soapbox now.
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