How to Speak English as a Second Language

Learning to speak English fluently can help you meet new people, qualify for higher-level universities, or even secure better jobs in the future. With that in mind, let’s try to answer a few important questions about the learning process: What steps should you take to learn how to speak English as a second language? What are the best practices for learning to speak English? And which English speaking resources can help you improve the most?

5 Best Ways to Learn How to Speak English

Every person learns how to speak a new language a little differently. This means that you will need to adjust your study habits in order to match your own pace and needs. That being said, there are a number of best practices that just about anyone can use to learn how to speak English as a second language. Let’s take a look in the sections below!

1. Watch Movies in English Between Study Sessions

While you may not be in the mood to hit the books every day, that doesn’t mean that you can’t expose yourself to English on a daily basis. Even if you’re taking an “off day” from your studies, try to listen to music with English lyrics, have a chat in English with a friend or family member, or watch a movie in English. This last tip is especially popular, as watching movies can be educational and entertaining at the same time.

Try to choose movies that match your speaking level. For example, if you’re a beginner, try watching an animated movie with the subtitles turned on. Most animated movies are made for a younger audience, so the language and vocabulary are easier to understand. Once you’re ready, you can move on to more complex movies (i.e.the types of movies you would watch in your native language). Try to make it your goal to eventually watch movies without any subtitles!

Here are a few animated movies to help get you started:

Finally, to get the most out of each movie, don’t be afraid to pause or rewind when you don’t understand something. You don’t have to take notes, but looking up words you don’t know will help expand your vocabulary. We also recommend speaking new phrases out loud so that you can practice your pronunciation.

2. Memorize new words often

When you encounter a new word, it won’t do much good if you learn it and then never use it again. Instead, push yourself to really memorize the pronunciation and meaning of the word through repetition. The more you say a word out loud, the more it will become part of your working vocabulary. This way, you can start to incorporate the word into your English conversations naturally.

If you’re having trouble remembering new words you’ve seen or heard, consider using a word journal. This will allow you to write down new words as you encounter them. Then, you can make a habit of reviewing your word journal so that new words stay fresh in your memory.

Sometimes you may remember how to say the name of a word, but you may not recall its meaning. Whenever you add a new word to your word journal, try to find a simile (a word with a similar meaning) that is already part of vocabulary. Then, write the simile next to the new word. This will ensure that you associate the two words with each other, which will in turn help you remember the meaning of the new word in the future.

However, you shouldn’t just wait until you encounter a new word to expand your vocabulary. You should get in the habit of learning a new word every day. A great way to do this is a “Word of the Day” calendar. You can set one up on your phone or buy a physical calendar to keep in your study area.

Additionally, you can try using apps like Duolingo or Magoosh Vocabulary Builder to learn new words on the go. Either way, this will ensure that you learn one new word whenever you study or pick up your phone.

3. Set goals or milestones

It’s difficult to stay on track if you don’t have anything to work toward. Setting goals or creating milestones for yourself can help keep you focused and motivated to learn how to speak English. Additionally, they can help you track your progress as an English speaker.

In order to set goals and milestones, ask yourself the following question: “Why am I learning English?” If you are simply learning for personal growth, you will probably have more freedom with your goals and deadlines. Alternatively, if you are studying English to pass a university entrance exam or to get a promotion at work, you will likely need to set strict goals and develop a specific timeline for your studies. In either case, setting up some kind of timeline can be helpful.

For example, if you’re learning for personal growth, you might set a goal of becoming functionally fluent in 3 years. To do this, you will need to set several milestones and test yourself along the way. You might set milestones for learning how to use each tense (present perfect, simple past, etc) or milestones for learning a certain number of words within given categories, like household items, countries, or animals.

4. Test yourself

Even if you’re not part of a formal English class, you can still find ways to test your abilities on a regular basis. If possible, organize a test with a teacher or friend to see how much you have progressed. This will also help you identify areas for improvement.

There are numerous ways to test your skills, but if you don’t have another person to practice speaking with you, consider a written exam to test your grammar and vocabulary knowledge. Don’t worry, you won’t need to write your own test. There are a number of free test resources online, like Test-English or IELTS Practice Tests (the latter includes speaking sections).

5. Listen to native speakers

While native speakers are not necessarily perfect in their language, they can be great teachers. . If you don’t know any native speakers personally, you can find dozens of Youtube channels that feature native English speakers. When you watch each video, take note of new phrases, pronunciations, vocabulary, and grammar structures.

That being said, it may not be easy to find Youtube channels that match your speaking level. While you can easily watch videos not related to learning English, it is best to practice with videos that address the specific needs of non-native speakers. Thankfully, there are a number of channels for beginner, intermediate, and advanced English learners.

The Best Online Resources for Learning How to Speak English

Learning how to speak English incorporates several areas of study: listening comprehension, pronunciation and intonation, vocabulary, and grammar. Though you will need to master all four areas to speak English as a second language, you don’t necessarily need to practice them all at once. In fact, most study resources only focus on one or two of these areas at a time. Let’s look at some of the best resources to help you learn how to speak English as a second language:

Free Online Resources

Language Partner/Exchange Programs

English Vacation Programs

Books for Learning English

While the resources listed above are all great ways to improve your speaking abilities, there is only one definitive way to learn how to speak English as a second language: practice! Without practicing one-on-one, or even in a group, it is nearly impossible to speak with any sense of confidence. So, while it may require you to step out of your comfort zone, practicing what you already know (and learning what you don’t) are the best ways to really improve your English speaking abilities.

For more information on how to speak English fluently using Magoosh, visit Magoosh Speaking today!

Matthew Jones

Matthew Jones

Matthew Jones is a freelance writer with a B.A. in Film and Philosophy from the University of Georgia. It was during his time in school that he published his first written work. After serving as a casting director in the Atlanta film industry for two years, Matthew acquired TEFL certification and began teaching English abroad. In 2017, Matthew started writing for dozens of different brands across various industries. During this time, Matthew also built an online following through his film blog. If you’d like to learn more about Matthew, you can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn!
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