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Updated : 2016.12.23  22:48:47
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  Like many English learners, you are probably afraid of making grammar mistakes when you speak. But don't be! Trying too hard to speak accurately can hinder the development of your English. Also when you focus too much on the accuracy of your speech, other important speaking skills are often overlooked.
  There are four main components of speaking: grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and fluency. When learners say that they want to speak accurately, they usually mean that they want to use correct grammar. It is true that without any attention to grammar, it is difficult for the listener to understand us. However, without a decent range of vocabulary, our ability to speak is severely limited. And what use is speaking if the listener can't understand us because of poor pronunciation? As for fluency, we have to speak quickly enough to maintain the listener's interest. You need to develop all parts of your speaking.
  Grammar and vocabulary, pronunciation, and fluency: there is a lot to work on to be a good speaker. But the good news is that you can improve four of these speaking skills without worrying too much about making grammar mistakes when you speak. The key is to integrate the development of your speaking with the other core English skills: listening, reading, and writing.

  There are many good ways to improve your listening. First, there are countless TV programs and movies. The benefit of using these to improve your listening skills is that you can refer to subtitles and it is easy to download scripts. While TV and movies are fun, it is important to remember that most content is scripted dialog. For more authentic spoken English, you could also consider watching content on video sharing sites such as YouTube. If you search for your favorite thing on YouTube, you are bound to find commentary which is often in a monologue form. On the other hand, if you want something easier to listen to, there are also many great English-learner sites which provide graded material. BreakingNewsEnglish.com is good example of such a site. But always remember that listening and speaking go hand-in-hand. When you talk to someone, you listen to them. So when you practice speak English with your classmates, friends and teachers, you are practicing both skills.

  You should dedicate time for reading to develop your English too. Again, there are many graded reading materials. If you like novels, the Penguin Readers series has a great range of abridged (shortened) novels. Again, BreakingNewsEnglish.com offers content on current events with highlighted vocabulary. And if you are a movie or TV fan, reading the scripts can be a great way to review your learning whenever you have some spare time. So you can also integrate your reading with your listening practice.

  Writing is often the most overlooked skill, but it provides a great opportunity for you to practice your grammar and vocabulary. When you write, focus on composing grammatically accurate sentences. You can also recall learned words or even search for new synonyms. When you speak, you have to consider the fluency of your speech. But you can take your time when you write. As for having your writing checked, try using a word processor such as Microsoft Word or ask your teacher or a mentor for help.
  While it is true that speakers are sometimes judged on the grammatical accuracy of their speech, this doesn't mean you have to judge yourself. Speaking is a difficult skill to master and it is just one part of your English development—it will take lots of time and practice. Take any feedback you get about spoken English as part of learning. Also, think of what you listen to and read as a model for your speaking. Finally, you can focus on specific words and grammatical structures when you write. Using this cycle, you will see improvements in your speaking too.




Greg Parkinson


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