Speaking is often the hardest of the four language skills. It's one thing listening and understanding, or even reading and writing, but it's another talking to a native speaker and not getting all flustered and experiencing brain shut down. But with the right tricks (and constant diligence), you can get over the learning curve with ease.
Improving Your English at Home
When you're by your lonesome, you have no reason to be nervous. You can let your brain flow freely -- so record yourself now! Your English is going to be at its best. Find a book on tape or a clip online that you can mimic. Does your English sound the same?
Or record yourself reading from a book. You'll be able to actually hear yourself (which we surprisingly have trouble with in real time) and be able to pinpoint the quirks in your English and where you slow down and have trouble. Then rerecord it and see how you've improved!
If your hands are full or you don't have a recording device, simply read aloud -- ideally, every day for at least 15 or 20 minutes. You'll get used to speaking for longer periods of time and forming long sentences won't phase you. And you'll run into words you can add to your vocabulary.
It's best to choose books with lots of dialogue. The language is generally more real and a bit simpler; after all, dialogue is conversation. Being able to read poetry is great but conversations are a much more practical skill, you know?
Listen to mp3s, podcasts, and the news.
We live in such a digital age; even if you think you don't have native speakers at your disposal, you actually do. Scientific American, CBC, BBC and Australia's ABC Radio are great mp3s to get started with, but there's also a million podcasts out there and handfuls of news stations, too. And the best part is that these people generally speak clearly and have pretty generic accents.
Another bonus? You'll have interesting things to talk about in English! You'll be up on all the news - even if you're just repeating what you've heard (not like anyone will know!). You're improving your English by expanding your knowledge. Two birds with one stone, really.
Watch TV and movies.
An integral part of speaking is hearing or listening. Because of this, the easiest way to involve yourself in a conversation without actually having one is to watch English TV and movies. If you absolutely have to, turn the subtitles on -- but try to resist!
Movies are great because you watch them over and over; the more you watch them, the more things you'll pick up. TV is good though, too, because you develop relationships with the characters and you grow accustomed to how they talk and the quirks of their speech.
Improving Your English with Others
Mimic the rhythm.
Every language has a musicality about it. You can have absolutely perfect grammar and if you don't have the rhythm down, you won't have that native sound. So whether you're talking to English speakers or you're watching on TV, look for emphasis, intonation, and emotion. How well can you mimic it?
In every sentence, there are parts that are longer, louder, and said at a higher pitch. In the phrase "rock and roll," saying "rock AND roll" sounds very strange. But "rockin roll" sounds a lot more natural. This is the icing on the English cake!
每个句子中都有更长、更响的部分，这些需要用更高的音调来发音。在“rock and roll”这个短语中，如果强调“and”则会让它听起来很奇怪。但“rockin roll”听上去就自然得多。韵律是英语这块蛋糕上锦上添花的糖衣。
Observe their mouth movements, too.
Just as every language has a musicality, it has a tendency to use certain mouth movements as well. You could be making the right sound, technically, but if your mouth is in the wrong place, it won't come out correctly. That's your lips and your tongue for the record!
You can't exactly stop someone and ask them about the current position of their tongue. But it is something you can be conscious of in your own language. If you hear someone say a word and you can't mimic it perfectly, experiment! Maybe it just needs to be a bit further back or higher in your mouth. It's in their somewhere!
Keep a notebook and pocket dictionary with you.
Whenever you're speaking to someone or hear others speaking and you catch a word you don't fully understand, write it down and look it up (you have the spelling skills, right?). Instead of thinking to yourself later that night, "Man, what was that word again?" you'll be able to flip to your notebook and remember. Boom. Learning!
It's good enough to write it down and look it up, though. Oh no, no, no. You gotta make it a point to use that word you just learned! (Or you'll forget it.) So later that night or the next day, work it into your speech. Make it part of your own.
Find others online.
But when the tourists aren't knocking down your door, what do you do? Get on chat rooms, of course! (The safe ones, please.) So many people are just looking to talk. And if you find a friend, you can do video or voice chats, too.