One of the most common questions students ask GLS teachers is “How can I improve my speaking?” Right behind that is usually “How can I improve my listening?” Well, the two are related and they have similar answers. So, to help anyone interested in practicing their verbal English skills, here are 5 good things to do!

#1: Speak English outside of class

You study in class for four hours a day and you have homework, so that should be enough English practice a day, right? Well, maybe, but maybe not.

Do you speak English in the dorm? With your roommate? Do you have friends who do not speak your native language that you hang out with? During lunch and your breaks, are you speaking English or only your native language?

As you can see, there are many chances to speak English with other people in your daily life. If you can use your English rather than your native language in many situations, you can improve your abilities and confidence very quickly!

#2: Watch more movies and TV

Try watching more American (or other English language) movies and TV shows without subtitles. Write down words or phrases you don’t understand and ask your teachers or other students. While some movies and TV shows are not realistic, they use a lot of English that might be helpful. A good tip is to watch things on the internet or on DVDs so you can pause and go back to listen to something again.

#3: Join a club or organization (on or off campus)

Did you know that NAU has a lot of clubs that GLS students can join? It’s true! Just like in #1, this is a great chance to practice your English in a fun and useful way while making new friends. And the city of Houston has a lot of fun activities and organizations you can join as well.  Many clubs make trips to big events like festivals, or try interesting new restaurants.

Extra tip: Try visiting the GLS Conversation Partners group as often as you can. It’s right here at GLS on the 7th floor, 1:30-3:00 pm, every Monday through Thursday (except during Final Exams or school breaks) and it’s a great way to practice English informally with your classmates in the afternoon!

#4: Repeat things you hear (Fake it ’til you make it)

You might be surprised to hear this, but part of sounding more natural is imitating natural speech. Listen to how Americans speak. Listen to the way they stress words. Watch a scene in a movie and practice repeating how the actors say something. Imitate the way your friends talk (but don’t make fun of them). After a while, you will have a “feel” for how English is supposed to sound. Then you won’t have to imitate an American accent… you will have one yourself!

#4: Repeat things you hear (Fake it ’til you make it)

You might be surprised to… hey, wait a minute!

#5: Read Read Read

This might seem like odd advice, but good readers can also be good speakers. Reading teaches you to “think” in English. When you become a better reader, you can write better and think faster in English instead of your native language. Soon, speaking will get easier as well. This is especially true if you practice reading aloud sometimes or discuss what you read in English with other people.


Well, everyone, I hope this helps you! Do your best to expand your English ability, and your time here at GLS will be even more valuable to you!