First things first: what do others mean when they say, “come out of your shell”? The implication is that we are in some kind of self-imposed prison. As an IELTS candidate, you already know how important it is for you to learn to read, write, listen, and speak English. You might be better at writing and reading English and even better at listening to native English speakers. But if you don’t work on your spoken English, it might affect your IELTS speaking test score.
The fear of making mistakes when speaking English causes many IELTS candidates to lose confidence. For whatever reason, be it your shyness about the English accent or fear of getting things wrong, you need to come out of your shell. One of the best ways to improve your English speaking skills is to talk to a native speaker. But what if you don’t feel confident enough to actually speak to another person. Here’s how to start speaking English in 5 easy steps:
1. Practice Self-Talk
Talking to yourself enables you to practice speaking anytime you want when no one is around. You can start talking about any topic out loud. Doing this in public might feel too weird, so just find a place where nobody else can hear you and simply start talking to yourself.
You can even talk to yourself in front of a mirror to see the way your mouth and face move as well as your other body language. Talking to yourself can make you feel like you are having a conversation and will encourage you to experiment with new topics and try new vocabulary. If you’re finding it difficult to choose a topic, you can pick a topic from a magazine or newspaper and stick to it. Every day, practice self-talk or mirror talk for an hour. Increase this time goal as you gain confidence.
2. Think in English and Say It Out Loud
Thinking in English sounds like a tall order, but you can train your mind to think in English rather than your native language. The best thing about thinking in English is that you can do it anywhere: on the bus, at your desk, or even while relaxing on your couch. When you start to think in English, you get better at answering questions. Your mind will automatically find the words and sentences required to deliver an answer while speaking English. Get your brain working and think in English. You might be surprised at what you can achieve.
3. Tell Yourself a Bedtime Story in English
Thinking about a bedtime story might transport you back to your childhood when parents and grandparents used to read a fairy tale for you each night. To improve your spoken English, you should try telling yourself a bedtime story. Read a story out loud and then try retelling it to yourself in English. Use a dictionary, online tools, or paper to form the sentences if needed.
4. Try Tongue Twisters
Some people don’t feel confident enough about their English pronunciation. That’s why they avoid speaking English. If you too want to improve or perfect your English pronunciation, try practicing some English tongue twisters.
Start with short tongue twisters like:
1. Eleven benevolent elephants.
2. She sees cheese.
3. Six sticky skeletons.
4. Truly rural.
5. Which witch is which?
6. Willy’s real rear wheel.
Then try practicing some challenging tongue twisters like:
1. She sells seashells on the seashore.
2. The shells she sells are seashells, I’m sure.
3. And if she sells seashells on the seashore,
4. Then I’m sure she sells seashore shells.
5. Talk with Native Speakers and Imitate
Once you build enough confidence in speaking English by trying the above four methods, you should start talking to a native speaker, maybe a friend, colleague, or someone you know. The more you use your English in a natural setting with native speakers of all walks of life, the faster your progress will be. Then go to your home and try to imitate the way a native speaker speaks. The imitation method helps to improve your English pronunciation.
Good spoken English is one skill that definitely relies on practice. We recommend that you take a more playful approach to spoken English and have fun with some of the above ideas.
Once you’re ready to take the IELTS test, book your IELTS test centre in advance. At IELTS AOLCC, we offer both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests at our IELTS test booking centres in Kingston, Mississauga, Brampton, and London. We provide test takers with Wireless Headphones at all our test venues. So where do you want to take your IELTS test? Check it here.