â€˜Teacher, how can I practice my English?â€™ is something that I am asked a lot by students of all levels and all nationalities. Many English students want to use the language they learn in class in the real world but donâ€™t know how they can do it. So, here are my top three tips for practicing your speaking skills.
1. Be active!
The key to good English is simple: practice! Spending all day in your bedroom sleeping and watching movies wonâ€™t get you anywhere. You need to get out there and speak as much as possible. Go into shops and ask the staff questions, ask your waiter in the restaurant about the food on the menu, chat to your taxi driver about his day; English speaking opportunities are everywhere! Joining clubs and playing sports are also great ways to practice English with people who like the same things as you. Find your local football team, join a hiking group or a cooking club. Whatever your interest, get off the sofa and get out there and do it! Meetup is a group that organises many events: http://www.meetup.com/cities/my/kuala_lumpur/
2. Make mistakes
Donâ€™t worry about having perfect English. Everyone makes mistakes at first and, honestly, no one cares! If your English isnâ€™t 100% correct, it really doesnâ€™t matter. Native English speakers hear so many foreigners using English that they are used to the mistakes. As long as we get the meaning of the sentence, the small errors are forgotten. And if someone does notice your mistakes and correct them, then great – you get a free English lesson! Also, donâ€™t worry too much about accent, you donâ€™t need perfect British or American pronunciation. There is not one correct way of speaking English; the UK, USA, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia all have different accents and vocabulary which make them unique. Speak English with your own accent and it will be more interesting.
Now hereâ€™s the big secret: native English speakers donâ€™t have perfect grammar. Yes, we make mistakes too! I hear my friends and family make grammar mistakes all the time and I understand them perfectly. So, if you make mistakes, welcome to the club â€“ you are human!
3. Make foreign friends
It is easy to make friends with students of the same nationality who speak the same language. But this will not help your English! Make an effort to sit next to students who donâ€™t share your language in class. This way, you will have to use English to communicate. Also, find friends outside LEA. Malaysia is home to many nationalities; you can meet people from all around the world here and, guess what? They will use English to speak to you! Go to Bukit Bintang on the weekend and start up a conversation with a friendly-looking foreigner – they might just become a good friend.Â Internations is a great organisation that connects foreigners living abroad, they hold monthly events and you can meet people from many different countries. Check out their website here: http://www.internations.org/kuala-lumpur
There are many opportunities to practice English in Malaysia and the more you do it, the more confident you will become. So be brave and go speak English!