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Home » Africa, Asia, Europe, Expat Life, Middle East, Relocations, Rest of the World, Russia - CIS

Do You Speak English?

English speaking tips for foreign English speakers

By Balkans Insider
October 28, 2011

Non-native English speakers quite often find themselves in unpleasant situations of not being able to understand what was said, or not being able to participate in a conversation as much as they would like. And not only it can be rather confusing, but can become a burden of constantly thinking about the proper pronunciation or grammar rules.

Here are a couple of tips to help any foreign English speakers improve their English communication skills.

If you didn’t understand what was said, just say so. Some people tend to simply agree on what was said although they didn’t quite understand the point. Wishing to make a good impression, non-native English speakers may put themselves in an unpleasant situation just because they agree on something they did not understand or hear properly.
Therefore, don’t hesitate to ask your conversation partner to repeat the sentence. And if you’re not comfortable saying “I don’t understand”, which may implicate that you are not be able to speak English properly, try saying it another way like, “Could you say it again, please?”.
Furthermore, if there is a specific word that you are not familiar with, ask your partner in communication to explain the meaning of the word. No one would ever expect a non-native speaker to know all the English words, but if you ask for clarification, you may learn something new and useful. This is a good way to improve your English communication skills.

You don’t have to be perfect. Like any other language, spoken English is quite different from written English. You may notice that not even native speakers follow a perfect pattern of clauses or punctuation. In a live conversation, it may happen that you start your sentence and, after two or three words, realize that it is impossible to finish your thought. And this is perfectly normal. The best advice is to speak in short sentences. And even if you find yourself wondering what to say next, take a moment to think about it.
Live conversation in any language is quite fast and requires improvisation. If you are not able to think of the proper word, but instead you describe it in several words, remember that it is completely normal in live conversation.

Try to ignore some small mistakes you make in conversation. Don’t get too wrapped up in or frustrated with your small mistakes. Practice makes perfect so the more you talk the better your English should become. If you begin to try and concentrate on every small detail the flow of the conversation will be lost and so will your desire to continue to communicate. Just talk!

Nobody is perfect, native speakers also make mistakes. The most frequent are spoonerisms: phrases, sentences, or words in language with swapped sounds. They often happen by mistake, especially if you speak fast (for example “leed of spight” instead of “speed of light”, or “shake a tower” instead of “take a shower”).
Another common mistake is blending two words or two phrases together, such as saying “How are you going” instead of “How are you doing”. This is of course not considered a lack of English fluency, but rather a slip or fault of the tongue.

Regardless of whether you speak English fluently or you need some more practice, stay positive when it comes to mistakes. Recognizing mistakes and faults in spoken English is the first and the most important step in correcting them.


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