Speaking is the vocalized form of human communication. It is also known as Speech. Speaking is the 2nd of the 4 language skills. The ability of speaking is the measure of knowing a language. The more fluent a person is speaking the more proficient he is. Speaking English is a matter of pride and those who are fluent in are looked with great esteem. But not all of us are good at speaking English but with practice and determination one can learn to speak fluent English. It is not necessary to have a native-English accent. What’s important to be able to speak clearly, so that people can understand you. English speaking pronunciation varies considerably across the English speaking world. It's impossible to sound exactly like a native English speaker if you are learning English as an adult in a non-English speaking country. But if you are non-english speaker residing in an English speaking country chances are that you will end up having the native-English accent. There is another form of Speaking apart from general Speaking. It is called Public Speaking. Public speaking is the process of speaking to a group of people meant to inform, influence, or entertain the listeners. A lot of emphasis is given to it as it addresses at larger platform and is meant to affect a larger group of people. But here we will focus on Speaking English is general.
Importance of English Speaking
English speaking skills or improving them helps us to communicate more easily and effectively.
English speaking is a confidence booster, it alleviates us form the stigma attached with not knowing English or proper English for that matter.
English speaking is a prerequisite for studying abroad in various English speaking countries. IELTS, TOEFL etc. are some of the English Language Tests which are required to be cleared before one can study abroad.
English is a universal language. It is amongst the top most language spoken all over the world. Because of it’s status it’s usage in various countries and under various circumstances makes it a very crucial language to learn.
For the population of non-english speaking countries, knowing English is an addition in their lingual skills. This is because they can communicate in more than one language.
Those who have a good voice in English language can benefit from it by acquiring various professions like teaching, translating, commentary, radio jockeying, call centres, front desk office etc.
How to gain Effective English Speaking Skills?
1. Listen as often as possible – Listening is the basic and foremost step to improve your English Speaking. There is no dearth of English material available world over. Various listening materials are Songs, Movies, Radio, Television, Seminars, Debates, Public Speeches etc. One should pay attention to how speakers pronounce various words and phrases and they should model their pronunciation on what you hear.
2. Practice makes a man perfect – This adage hasn’t beensaid by the elders just like that. It is very much applicable in real life. Speaking doesn’t require much of an effort. One can practice, what one has learned wherever and whenever they can. Any practice is good – whether one speaks to someone who is a native English speaker or not. Speak short sentences, pause well initially and rehearse a few lines if you need to present yourself.
3. Phonetic Alphabets – A speaker should read the phonetic alphabet page which is given at the beginning of most good dictionaries. It is a guide to pronouncing new words. For example the vowel sounds move around considerably with location. In the US ó often sounds similar to aa or sometimes o. In the south UK ã is the same as aa, but in the US and north UK usually the sound is like a (the actual sound of a is also different).
4. Problematic Sounds – We all have difficulty in certain sounds when the words are to be pronounced. For example, French speakers have difficulties with "th"; Mandarin speakers have difficulties with "r" or "l", and Arabic speakers have difficulties with "p" and "b". One should practice on producing the correct sound of the words.For this one can perform the Minimal Pair Exercise. In this exercise one can practice words which are difficult to distinguish. For example there are words which are the same except for the sound "p" and "b". Some of these words are "pair" and "bear"; "pond" and "bond"; "pie" and "buy" etc.
5. Recognizing Spelling Patterns – Thereare 44 sounds in the English language. There are 19 vowel sounds including 5 long vowels, 5 short vowels, 3 dipthongs, 2 'oo' sounds, 4 'r' controlled vowel sounds and 25 consonant sounds.
Long Vowels – (i) Long -a- in Make, Take. (ii) Long -e- in Beet, Feet.
Short Vowels – (i) Short -i- in It, In. (ii) Short -o- in Top, Hop.
Dipthongs – (i) -oi- in Foil and Toy (ii) -ow- in Owl and Ouch.
Long OO-sound - Boom, Shoot - Short OO-sound – Tomb, Womb.
R-Controlled Vowel Sounds – (i) -ur- in Her, Bird (ii) -ar- in Bark, Dark.
Consonant Sounds – (i) -b- in bed, bad (ii) -k- in cat and kick.
Generally certain words are pronounced in a certain manner. Forexample, "tion" on the end of a word is pronounced "shun", while "sion" is pronounced "zhun". However there are exceptions to this rule as there are many ways to pronounce a particular spelling pattern. For example, the pattern "ough" can be pronounced "uff" as in "enough" and "tough", or "oh" as in "although" and "dough".
6. Intonation – Intonation refers to variation of pitch. The pitch of voice rises and falls whilst speaking especially to convey surprise, irony, disbelief, sarcasm, teasing or to pose a question. Usually our voices go up at the end of the sentence to show a question, and down at the end to show a statement. Generally speaking, if English is not your first language, then you are going to run into a difficulty. Because even if you pronounce each word clearly, if your intonation patterns are non-standard, your meaning will probably not be clear.
Example: You know her, don't you? - Here intonation rises on don't you? to show it's a question. You know her, don't you – Here intonation falls down on don't you to show it's a statement you expect the other person to agree with.
7. Sentence Stress – In a sentence all words do not have a equal stress. Generally only the Information Words (nouns and verbs) are stressed.
'Where's the ‘book’ I gave you?
'Where's the ‘black' book’ I gave you?
Where's the ‘black’ and ‘white’ book I gave you yesterday?
The unstressed words such as "the", "I", "you" and "and" don't carry as much weight as the stressed words.
However, Sentence stress isn't fixed like word stress. In fact, one can stress words that are normally unstressed in order to highlight different meanings.
I ‘hate’ you - Hate, rather than just unlike.
‘I’ hate you - The stress here is on ‘I’ to highlight that it's me rather than another person who hates you.
I hate ‘you’ – The stress here is on you and nobody else.
8. Word Stress - Every English word has its own stress. For example, the word "survive" has two syllables (sur and vive), but only the second syllable is stressed. We say sur'vive and not 'sur vive. A dictionary will show the syllable stress by an apostrophe (') before the syllable to be stressed. Word stress is important as someone can misunderstand you because of wrong word stress than because of the wrong pronunciation of a sound.
9. Neither too Fast, Nor too slow – It is important to know that one should have a certain speed of speaking wherein you do not skip over some words. One should also make sure that while trying to speak fast one should not , fail to pronounce them completely, or mix them up. Similarly speaking too slowly can make you sounding unnatural. However it’s better to speak slowly and clearly than too quickly.
10. Telephonic Conversation – Chatting on the telephone is another common method to hone one’s speaking skill. However one should restrain from long conversations especially if you are making the call. If the phone bill puts one in a quandary then one can choose to always answer the phone instead of allowing others to handle the call. This way you will be saving the phone bill and earn the talking experience. Most of us fear of talking on the phone in English. But if we practice often we can get over this habit of fear. Talking on phone has another advantage as the person with whom you are conversating is not able to see you. This frees one from other consciousness factor like dressing etc. which can hamper one’s confidence level whilst speaking.
11. English Speaking Courses - These Courses are one of the most sought after options for those who want perfect their English language. These courses are available in various formats and various environments.
English Speaking Courses can be pursued through:
University and Colleges.
Self Learning CD’s and books.
English Language Websites.
12.Commonly Mispronounced Words - English can be a tricky language, especially when it comes to pronunciation rules. You probably know a few people who would pronounce that word "prob-lee." We even do it ourselves. It is important to know how to pronounce these words in order to perfect your English.
Aegis:ee-jis, not ay-jis
Asterisk:as-ter-isk, not as-ter-ik
Alumnae: a-lum-nee, not a-lum-nay
Archipelago: ar-ki-PEL-a-go, not arch-i-pel-a-go
Athlete:ath-leet, not ath-a-leet
Candidate: kan-di-dayt, not kan-i-dayt
Chimera: kiy-MEER-a, not CHIM-er-a
Disastrous:di-zas-tres, not di-zas-ter-es
Electoral:e-LEK-tor-al, not e-lek-TOR-al
Etcetera: et-set-er-a, not ek-set-er-a
Lambaste:lam-bayst, not lam-bast
Larvae: lar-vee, not lar-vay
Library: li-brar-y, not li-bar-y
Mischievous: MIS-che-vus, not mis-CHEE-vee-us
Mispronunciation: mis-pro-nun-see-ay-shun, not mis-pro-nown-see-ay-shun