If you want to improve your English speaking skills but struggle with finding opportunities online, this post is for you!
I always thought that I’m quite good at English speaking, and I don’t need “to improve my speaking skills.”
I was abroad and had friends among natives, and they had no problems with understanding me. So I didn’t think that was my case.
And I was living in that illusion until I signed up for Fluency challenge, an online competition, where people were challenged to make a video answering questions in English daily 30 days in a row. It took me one video to realize that I wasn’t that good I had thought I was. I instantly understood how many grammar and pronunciation mistakes I made while speaking and that all these years, I didn’t notice them because I didn’t listen to myself that much. But on the video, you hear all your flows very clear.
To say it was painful is to say nothing. After so many years of English learning, my speaking skills still were not good enough. I was ashamed; my confidence was shaken. If you ever have learned any language in your life, I bet you understand how I felt at that moment.
Back then, I had two options:
1. Leave the group, delete all videos, and continue to live in that illusion.
2. Improve your English speaking skills and gain a new respect for myself.
Guess what did I choose?
Right, I had continued to make those videos, and eventually, I became better. When you speak English every day, even if it’s just for 30 minutes you sort of getting used to it and your brain and muscle too.
But the most essential part of the story is why I made those choices. And it wasn’t only because I wanted to improve my speaking skills but because I got truly excited about participating in that challenge, about the topics we discussed and the people I met. That was the primary motivation for me. And that’s why it worked so well.
So before start working on your speaking skills, you need to identify what motivates you the best.
Is it a competition or deadline pressure, a prize, a class, a strict teacher, books, movies, songs, biology? It can be anything that energizes you and keeps you excited enough for the long run. (And if you don’t know yet try everything you can, and see what works best for you).
The second thing you may want to do before embarking to actual conversations is to fix your main flows in Grammar and pronunciation. It will give you more confidence. For Grammar issues, I’d recommend grammar lessons on Engvid.com and Grammar Section of Cambridge Dictionary. For pronunciation, check out of the Sounds Pronunciation app or pronunciation dictionary Forvo.
Only after it, you can start looking for opportunities to practice your speaking skills online. And there are some options:
1. Online English school or a tutor
It’s the obvious choice if you have money to pay for classes. You can go to an online school or find a tutor on italki, it’s totally up to you.
The good thing is that a teacher will give you feedback and coach you, so you’ll get there faster. On the other side, you can’t pay forever, and once your classes are over your speaking activity could end too.
2. Language exchange communities and apps
It’s the second obvious choice. Most of them are free and easy in use. But it’s not that easy to find a person with who you can not only “practice English speaking skills online” but also share things you share with your friends. And if you don’t have common interests, your chats could soon end with nothing.
So, to find the best speaking buddy, try to fill your profile with as many details as you can, so people could see what kind of person you’re.
Also, be careful with “US soldiers” who ask you to pay for their phone call.
And If you’re an introvert, you can boost your speaking skills by recording yourself on your phone, identify your flaws, and if you do it consistently, you’ll see the progress.
3. Online communities
If you’re open to meet new people, all you need just to find “your community,” a place you belong and where you want to be.
And it’s not about looking “a speaking partner” with who you’ll sort of “have to discuss” some topic (from textbooks). It’s about searching and finding people who share the same interests as you and engaging in profound and exciting conversations.
And you can find those people literally everywhere on the internet. Just type your interest in the search toolbar of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, and find communities of people from all over the world.
Here are some examples:
Once you join your communities, see what’s happening there, what do people discuss and start to comment post you’re interested in.
Then think of how you could contribute, how you can help with your knowledge or experience (professional or personal). Make a post or a video speaking about it.
Eventually, you’ll find people who are interested in what you are saying, and that’s how you find your real speaking buddies with whom you would speak not only in the group but via Skype or WhatsApp.
Again, the main idea is to find people and places you’re genuinely excited about and English will be just an instrument of communication, not the primal goal. So you won’t worry too much about “your poor English” and will look up those words and expressions you struggle with more eager than for any English class.
4. Free Online courses and challenges
If you join an online course or a challenge, you’ll probably be not the only person who did it. There will be other students and maybe even a community like in Futurelearn platform. So embrace your new friends and try to use every opportunity to speak up. The language of the course should be English, but the program could cover any area of your professional or personal interest: social media, cooking, cybersecurity, fashion, graphic design, sports, etc. Check out online educational platforms Coursera, Undemy or Skillshare and find a course that’s best for you!
5. Create a group or a club
If you fail to find a community or a group that you want to join, create your own! Think of things you want to talk about or share. Go to the social net where you’re the most active and start building your own community or a club.
Now it’s your turn to tell me how do you develop your English speaking skills online? Where do you find your speaking buddies or foreign friends? Can’t wait to hear your stories!
Write in the comments or at my email email@example.com