For many non-native speakers, sounding natural when speaking English is a HUGE challenge. They often struggle with pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar, which can make them feel embarrassed, self-conscious, and frustrated.
I want to explain why
1) You, mostly, shouldn't care about this.
and 2) Sounding natural when speaking English isn't actually SO difficult!
So today I'm going to provide some tips to help you improve your spoken English.
Are you struggling to sound natural when speaking English?
Honestly, if people can understand YOU and you can understand other people, then don't worry about whether your accent sounds like a native English speaker. (I'm assuming that's why you're reading this post!) But if you're a total nerd about it and really WANT to sound like you've lived in London for years or you grew up in Liverpool for some reason, don't worry, I got you!
The reason it's so difficult is that English is a complex language, with a wide variety of accents, dialects, and regional variations. Moreover, it is a language that is constantly evolving, with new words and expressions being added all the time. I always talk about how English is a living language and changes over time. I have to constantly update what I teach and how I teach.
Let's explore what you can do to improve your spoken English.
The Challenges of Pronunciation
I've already made a free course to help get your British Accent to sound natural, the eBook is available on my website, again it's free, but you also can pay what you think the course is worth, and support my work.
The videos for this are in a neat little playlist right here:
This is one of the most challenging aspects of speaking English: Getting the pronunciation right. Again, accent and pronunciation shouldn't be talked about in the same way. having an accent is hot. Everyone knows that! Having "GOOD" pronunciation just means that you can be understood and communicate well. So please don't ever buy "accent reduction" courses or pay to have a teacher tell you your accent is bad! Just give them a slap in the face. (I'm kidding, don't actually slap people, please!)
But English has many sounds that are not found in other languages, such as the "th" sound in "think". Moreover, English has a wide range of accents and dialects, each with its unique way of pronouncing words. For example, a person from London might pronounce "water" as "waw-tuh," while someone from New York might say "waw-der." These variations can make it difficult for non-native speakers to understand and replicate the correct pronunciation. Again, my videos including my Pronunciation course will help with this, and again, it's FREE!
Vocabulary and Grammar
Another challenge of speaking English naturally is using the correct vocabulary and grammar. English has a vast vocabulary, with many words having multiple meanings and uses. For example, the word "GET" can mean a million different things! Luckily for you, I've made a few videos on this word
Similarly, English grammar can be complicated, with many rules and exceptions. For example, the placement of adjectives in a sentence can change the meaning of a phrase entirely. These challenges can make it difficult for non-native speakers to express themselves correctly and naturally.
But the main thing to understand from this is that when you learn a new word/phrase in English, make sure you fully understand HOW to use it, otherwise it will sound strange when you use it when it counts, for example in an English speaking exam! Practice with friends, practice on dating apps, and practice whenever you get the chance to talk to native speakers, they might give you correction or guidance as to how to use the word/phrase in a better or more natural way!
Finally, understanding the cultural context of the English language can be another challenge for non-native speakers. English idioms, slang, and colloquial expressions are prevalent in daily conversations, but they can be confusing for non-native speakers. For example, the phrase "it's raining cats and dogs" means that it's raining heavily, but, like I said before, make sure you know HOW we use it. Just because it's in the dictionary doesn't mean we even use it anymore, and "It's raining cats and dogs" just isn't that widely used anymore. Ok don't misunderstand me, it definitely still IS used, but not as much as ESL teachers like to insist that it is!
Moreover, understanding cultural nuances and customs can be essential for effective communication in English-speaking countries. For example, it's common to ask someone how they're doing, but don't expect any more detailed answer than "Yeah, good."
Sounding natural when speaking English is a challenging but essential skill for non-native speakers. The challenges of pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and cultural context can make it difficult to express yourself effectively and confidently. However, with practice, patience, and persistence, it is possible to improve your spoken English and sound more natural.
Some Papa Teach Me tips for improving your spoken English include:
Listening to native speakers - Podcasts help here! Don't worry about understanding EVERY word, you simply won't! Instead, let the natural flow of conversation and intonation infect your brain and get used to the musicality of English!
Practising pronunciation - This should include mirroring your favourite actor / YouTuber's pronunciation!
Learning new vocabulary and grammar rules - This should include a healthy balanced diet of Papa Teach Me videos and cardio!
and finally immersing yourself in the language by watching English movies or TV shows, and reading English books or websites SPECIFIC TO YOUR INTERESTS! It's so common for teachers to give this tip, but rarely do they explain that it's important for you to be interested in the material and the topic. If you're super interested in movies, but start reading a website about the economy, you're not gonna learn as effectively as you could on a website full of information and discussions about movies!
and finally of course: speaking with native speakers whenever possible. I
It's super important to be patient with yourself and not get discouraged by mistakes or challenges. Remember that learning a language is a process, and progress may come slowly but surely. Your brain is a muscle, so go slow, so steady, have fun studying, and you'll see those gains in no time!