How can you learn spoken English fast? Here are a few pointers:
- Learn the language in chunks. Chunks are idioms, phrases or short sentences that form a meaning as a group of words. An example of a chunk would be: “How’s it going?” or “How’s it hanging?” (These mean How are you doing?, informally). Another chunk would be: “He’s a real ____” meaning the guy has a certain quality. You could fill in many different nouns into this structure to complete the sentence: He’s a real big shot. He’s a real talker. Here’s an example of a simple chunk: “I don’t have any ___.” Now you can fill in what you don’t have: “I don’t have any homework” or “I don’t have any cash.” Learning this chunk would mean that you’re ready at any moment to say what you’re missing (and correctly, instead of an incorrect usage such as “I don’t got any …”). In my online English courses and in my , I always teach English in chunks — and it really works!
- Speak as much as possible with those who speak English. Let them know you’re trying to improve and that you’re open to being corrected (“I’m working on improving my English. Please correct me if I make a mistake. I won’t be offended, and it will help me learn faster.”).
- Read newspapers such as The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Look for articles that contain interviews of people, such as the the New York Times Sunday feature “Corner Office.” Spoken English is captured here. Read it aloud. Note how well-spoken the person being interviewed is (CEO of BMI, Mike O’Neill). You can get inspiration for structuring your sentences while also enriching your vocabulary:
Q. What were your early years like?
- A. I grew up in Oceanport, N.J. It’s the same town I live in now. I have three brothers and a sister. We all live there still, except for my younger brother, who moved 20 minutes south. He was a little bit of a rebel. Being the middle child allowed me some freedom, because I was building bridges between the younger two and the older two. I got to play in that vacuum a little bit, which allowed me to be somewhat independent and creative.
- NOTE: If you would like to read the entire interview with this CEO, click to go to the New York Times feature.