While you can study English from a textbook or a webpage, it doesn’t really matter if you are not able to speak it. You can store up all the English vocabulary you want, but if English speakers cannot understand you when you speak, it has all been for nothing. Furthermore, if you have plans to work with English speakers, then you need to speak the language well enough to be taken seriously.
Ultimately, the best way to learn how to sound like a native English speaker is to study English in Washington DC, where you will be immersed in the language and surrounded by native speakers. In addition to taking an English class in DC, there are some other things you can do to improve your ability to speak English and sound like a native speaker.
First, you must understand that pronunciation matters. As we mentioned before, you can study vocabulary from a textbook, but if you do not learn how to pronounce the words correctly, your speaking skills will be ineffective. Instead, it is critical to not only read the words in a textbook but also to learn how to say them. A good rule is to listen to the words as you read them, which is where language apps can be especially helpful.
Spend Time with Native Speakers
A major benefit from taking English courses Washington DC is that it provides plenty of opportunities to spend time with native speakers. Since you want to be taken seriously by native speakers when you speak, it is important to have conversations with them so you can begin to learn how they pronounce words and pace their conversations. Plus, as you develop relationships with native speakers, they will feel more comfortable pointing out when you mispronounce something or use an English word or phrase incorrectly.
Pay Attention with Your Ears
We cannot emphasize the importance of listening enough. You have to do your very best to listen well. We understand this can be difficult at first as you are beginning to learn the language and may get lost in the conversation. However, simply listening to people speak English is a great learning opportunity. For example, you will begin to learn how and when words are stressed.
Look at the Mouth
Phonetics is the study of speech sounds. The way a person makes these speech sounds and articulates words is shaped, literally, by the way he or she uses her mouth. Therefore, you can improve your ability to speak English like a native speaker by studying mouth movements. BBC Learning English has an entire collection of online videos of all the consonant and vowel sounds in the English language. Watch these videos and then practice in front of the mirror. Watch your mouth!
Recognize Different Accents
A tricky part of learning how to sound like a native English speaker is identifying accents. Depending on where the native English speaker is from, you will notice a slight change in the way he or she speaks. Accents vary greatly across different regions of the United States. Likewise, English is spoken across the world, and you will need to recognize different accents between countries such as Great Britain and Scotland. Ideally, you should focus on learning the accent where you will most likely be speaking English.
Mimic Native Speakers
It’s been said that “imitation is the highest form of flattery.” When it comes to language learning, imitation is a wonderful tool. Make a point to imitate those native English speakers who speak well. This may be a teacher or trainer at your Washington language school or an actor on television. Either way, pay attention to how this individual speaks and mimic him or her.
Watch Your Pace
People will be able to tell you are not a native speaker by the pace at which you speak. If you speak too slowly or if you slow down or take a break at the wrong point of a sentence, people will assume English is not your first language. If you want to fool them into thinking you are or that you can speak it just as well, then you need to watch your pacing. This is another time when watching and mimicking native speakers can be helpful.
Native speakers frequently use contractions when speaking. A contraction is formed from two words such as “shouldn’t” instead of “should not.” Contractions are informal, so they work well in casual conversations. If you don’t use contractions when conversing casually, then you will sound too formal. Your Dictionary has an easy-to-follow guide for using contractions correctly in English.
Flavor Your Speech with Slang and Idioms
Similarly, native English speakers pepper their conversations with slang or idioms. Slang refers to informal language that tends to come in and out of fashion depending on the culture. Idioms are figurative phrases or expressions that are not meant literally. By using slang and idioms, it shows you know English well enough to speak casually and joke in English.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Next, it is imperative to make practicing English a part of your daily routine. The more you practice speaking like a native English speaker, the more likely you will be able to in conversation. Practice in front of your mirror. Practice with friends. Practice with language partners. Try reading aloud. Consider memorizing famous speeches. Sing popular songs. And, when you do, record yourself so you can listen to see where you sound like a native speaker and where you need more help.
Ask for Help
Finally, ask for help. Students who attend the Washington language institute, inlingua, will have access to trainers who are native speakers. Plus, they will be able to call upon their classmates for extra practice sessions. When you are taking English classes, it is natural to ask for help pronouncing words or learning how to use slang. Take advantage of your teachers, classmates, and English-speaking environment.