Hey again everybody, good to see you again. 🙂
I often get students asking me how to improve their English at home, or how to improve their English by themselves. This is a great question. Let me introduce a new way to improve not only your speaking, but your vocabulary and grammar too:
Record yourself speaking English.
Wait, what? How would that help me improve my English?
I’m glad you asked.
So what are the four reasons it’s a good idea to record yourself speaking English?
1. It’s active practice
When you are recording yourself speaking English, it means you are practicing! For many of us, it’s hard to find another native speaker who will practice with us. Even if we can find someone, it’s not always easy to do it regularly. Sometimes they are busy, or we become busy. But who says you have to have another partner just to speak English? Instead of just sitting and reading or listening, why not be a little more active and speak! Speaking by yourself is better than not speaking at all, and it’s (usually) much more active than just listening or reading.
2. It will improve your fluency
I noticed something very interesting with my students who started recording themselves: they started speaking much more smoothly and fluidly. This change happened immediately in their recordings, and gradually during our lessons. Why? Because when you are talking to yourself, there is no pressure from anyone else! No one is pressuring you to speak faster or speak correctly. You can take your time, speak at your pace, and even make mistakes and there’s no penalty! It’s a great way to take the pressure off and just speak. You may even be surprised at how good your English actually is when you just relax.
3. You can improve your English by revising
“Ok,” you might be saying, “but why should I record it? Why not just talk out loud?” This is a good question! Let me ask you another one: why keep an English journal? So you have something to look over in the future! Journal writing is a way to keep a record of what you’ve done and it allows you to go over past mistakes as you learn more English to improve your English even further! In the same way, you can listen to an audio recording again and catch mistakes. Sometimes you make mistakes while you are speaking that you don’t even realize! Recording yourself speaking helps with this. You can also share it with a teacher so she can help you revise, but you don’t have to.
4. You can improve your English by reflecting
The final and maybe most important reason to record yourself is because it gives you opportunities for reflective practice. Reflective practice is, very simply, thinking about your learning! Normally, when people study or learn something, they just figure out what to do, do it, and that’s it. Instead, you can think about what you did. In this case, it means listening to your recording, and stopping at some points and thinking:
“Was that correct?”
“Was that natural?”
“Is there another way to say that?”
“Would a native speaker say it that way?”
“What’s the different between the word/expression I used and another similar one?”
“Could I have said this instead?”
Even if you don’t know the answers to the questions you think of, write them down! The next time you have an opportunity, ask a native speaker (like me!) your questions. Alternatively, you could experiment: try thinking of other ways to say what you said, and try them out with native speakers. Reflective practice is the best way to grow as an English learner.
So there you have it! Four good reasons to record yourself speaking English. You can do it as often as you want, as long as you want. I recommend doing it at least once a week, 3-5 times a week is better. If you are not sure what to talk about, start very short. Even just one minute is enough!
So give it a try! Let me know how it goes on twitter or in the comments, and feel free to ask me any questions that come up!
By the way, if you want some great ideas for speaking (or writing) topics, check out this website:
They have a fantastic list of interesting, crazy and funny topics for you to speak (or write) about.