Calling all second language learners! If you are learning languages at home and find that you cannot hone your speaking skills as well as the other language skills, this guide is for you.
We will look at different ways you can work on your speaking without a partner at home or at school with whom to practice.
From online language exchange partners to podcasts, movies, music, and other foreign language media, there are a lot of great resources to help you improve your speaking skills without a partner.
Finally, we'll look specifically at developing English speaking skills, as this is a high-frequency question asked by language learners.
Online Language Exchange
If you do not have anyone in your local community to practice speaking with, you can look online for a language exchange partner. This is someone who speaks your target language fluently and can chat with you so that you get organic exposure and a chance to start speaking in a safe space.
Sometimes, an exchange partner will want to learn your native language as well. In this case, you can talk for one hour in your language and one hour in theirs. This means both parties get something out of the relationship and you can become great speakers together.
If your exchange partner does not want to learn your language, you can simply pay them for their time. Make sure your language exchange partner is very familiar with the grammar and technicalities of their own language, so they can explain things to you when you get confused.
Benefits of Language Exchange
Having a native speaker to practice with, even if it is online, is a great way to gain confidence and develop a natural flow when speaking. Moreover, you can get instant feedback on commonly mispronounced words and build new vocabulary as they reply to you.
The good thing about video calls is that you can see the other person's body language as well. This will help you to put certain words in context and you can assess their tone and language as you would in real-life conversations, taking into consideration their mood and expressions.
Your conversation partner can also help you to learn phrases that you might not find in textbooks, such as slang sayings or even curse words and phrases. Try speech shadowing with your exchange partner so you can learn words and phrases exactly as they are said by a native.
If you do not feel comfortable with the language exchange setup, don't worry! There are other ways to develop your speaking skills without any kind of partner, in person or online.
Watch Foreign TV and Movies
If you want to practice using the spoken word in a safe space, you can do so completely alone. Use foreign TV shows and movies to build your vocabulary, develop listening skills and work on your pronunciation of difficult words.
You can binge your way to fluency with Lingopie, the streaming platform designed for language learning. Their dual subtitles and interactive transcripts are great tools for vocabulary acquisition. Moreover, they have a voice recognition feature to help you become a better speaker.
Mimic the native actors as they speak and try to copy their tone as well. You can also do this with music and podcasts.
Listen to Music and Podcasts
Engaging with foreign music and podcasts will develop your vocabulary further, particularly your slang and colloquial vocabulary. Note new words and phrases that you hear in music and podcasts and try to use them in real conversations.
You will also learn about other cultures, societies, values, and belief systems from engaging with this media. You can check out Lingopie Music if you do not know where to start.
Sing songs aloud to develop your fluency and confido learning. You will not take in as much new vocabulary if you are not having fun.
You can listen to Lingopie Podcasts to learn new words and shadow the speech of natives with various accents. Listening to natives using their own words in a natural and authentic context provides quality exposure to the vernacular.
Get on Social Media
For more active learning, you can watch Instagram reels, TikToks, and YouTube videos made by native speakers of your target language and make reply TikToks or respond with your own YouTube videos.
Moreover, you can engage with the comment sections online and try to read tweets or Reddit posts by natives. This will also help your reading and writing skills, which is no bad thing.
If you are not comfortable making your own social media content in a different language, you can still use other people's posts to learn and mimic the speech.
Record Yourself Speaking
If you want to track your progress and self-assess your accent, record yourself talking. You can just press record and start talking about your day, or else read aloud from a book or your personal diary, if you prefer to have a script.
For a more creative experience, you can write a speech and recite it, or learn a poem and perform it to work on your flow when speaking. Listen back to the audio and make note of the individual words or phrases that you need to work on.
When you are reading aloud, think about your accent and pronunciation and compare it with any clips you have of native speakers, perhaps in movies or on YouTube. Try tongue twisters if you're feeling extra confident!
You can also role-play job interviews, pretend you are speaking publicly or having an everyday conversation, and listen to yourself to see how natural and convincing you sound. Try to add filler words like "well" and "in fact" to sound more like a native speaker.
You should also keep old recordings of yourself reading aloud so you can track your progress. You might be surprised at what a great speaker you have become since you started! Most people do not realize how much they are improving until they hear themselves speaking from weeks or months earlier.
Take Advantage of Community Activities
If you are living in a country where your target language is spoken, or where there is a strong community of native speakers, then you can try to get involved in local activities, such as book groups, dance lessons, running groups, creative writing clubs, or really anything that puts you in contact with speakers of your target language.
Then, you can try to socialize only in your target language during the activities. You can even make friends with locals and ask if you can get a coffee together outside of the activity to chat. Making friends with natives is one of the key benefits of jumping into community activities.
Look out for public speaking events in which you can practice your target languages, such as ex-pat conventions or international business events. Public speaking is great for building confidence, seeing if you have got your audience's attention and practicing being engaging in a different language.
Many people struggle with public speaking, as they get scared they won't say the right words, or that people will laugh at them. Remember that mistakes are normal and important for learning. Moreover, your audience will be impressed with your ability to command a second language.
Another thing to look out for in the community is language cafes. If you are confident talking with strangers and meeting new people, see if there are any language cafes in your local area where people go to practice speaking a different language.
How to Improve English Speaking Skills
There are various ways to improve your English speaking skills without a partner. For one, you can listen to a podcast by a native English speaker. English podcasts are a great learning tool for listening comprehension and they expose you to colloquial language.
These are both important aspects of speaking, as you cannot build your communication skills if you don't understand spoken English. You need to both speak and listen to hold a conversation.
The more casual language you can learn to use, the more you'll sound like a native speaker. Slang, idiomatic phrases, colloquialisms, and interjections are all important aspects of speaking English like a native.
Moreover, you can watch English TV and movies with English subtitles on. Reading along with the dialogue will help you to spot anomalous spelling and pronunciation in English and begin to associate words with their correct spelling.
Speaking English: Why It Can Be So Tough
The English language is full of inconsistencies and anomalies. From spelling to pronunciation and everything in between, it can be tough to get your head around the vernacular.
A learner who is great at reading and writing in English might not be able to pronounce half of the English words they know, as they have never heard them spoken aloud.
There are not always clear rules about pronunciation as there are in other languages, so words in English often just have to be learned individually. You will come across words with the same word endings or even the exact same spelling that are pronounced differently, and this can be confusing.
For instance, the word "bow", when referring to a type of knot is pronounced differently to "bow", the act of bending down.
The word "tear", meaning to rip something, and the word "tear", as in crying, are also pronounced differently in English.
There are several more examples of this, and other anomalous English spelling and pronunciation quirks.
FAQs: Improving Your Speaking Skills
How can I improve my speaking skills by myself?
There are a lot of great ways to improve your (English) speaking skills by yourself. You can watch movies and TV shows and shadow the speech of the native actors.
Or, practice singing songs aloud in your target language. Another option is to read aloud and record yourself so you can self-assess your fluency and accent.
If your aim is to speak English fluently, pick an accent early on - be it British or American - and stick to it.
How can I improve my speaking quickly?
If you want to improve your English speaking skills quickly and easily, you should try to immerse yourself in the language as much as you can. If you can visit a country that speaks your target language, this is the best way.
You can also try to meet people online to talk with, recite literature in your target language daily and use language-learning apps that employ voice recognition for practice.
Should I practice my English speaking skills with native speakers?
Whenever possible, it is a great idea to talk to actual native English speakers, because this is quality exposure to the language in a natural context.
However, if this is not possible, don't be disheartened. You can also watch English-language TV shows and movies and pay attention to pronunciation and colloquialisms. This will help with your speaking as well.
Does my native language affect my foreign language speaking skills?
Yes, the language(s) that you learned as an infant will determine which sounds are easy for you to say and which are hard.
Correct pronunciation in a language that uses a sound that is not in your native tongue is a real challenge. However, if you frequently practice speaking, there is no reason why you cannot learn and continue to improve your accent.
Summary: How to Improve Your Speaking Skills Without A Partner
So, there you have it! If you want to develop your speaking skills, but you do not have a partner to work with, there are several ways that you can take your learning into your own hands.
You can find an exchange partner online, or try one of the many ways we have explained that you can practice speaking all by yourself. From speech shadowing TV shows and movies to singing songs aloud, using social media, recording yourself speaking, and joining local clubs, the options are numerous and diverse.
Finally, we have addressed how to improve English speaking skills at home and why this can be particularly tough. Remember to employ online resources, such as Lingopie, to help you along.