How do you improve your communication skills in the US?
1) No matter your English level, just talk! This may sound stupid, but it’s not. When learning a language (as well as other skills) perfectionism is sometimes an obstacle. Becoming fluent comes with practice, there’s no other way, and FLUENCY IS MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN ACCURACY (this point is extremelly important).
2) Avoid speaking super slowly and saying lots of /ah/ems/ at all cost. There’s nothing more annoying to a native speaker than hearing someone saying “EH” or always pausing while trying to find the correct word in his head. It’s much better to make mistakes (as long as the message is delivered) than being correct but annoying.
3) Learn phrases that work. Write them down when your colleagues speak.
4) Prepare a topic to present at an event and do the necessary research learning words that are specific to this topic. It will improve your vocabulary and also broaden the things you can talk about with friends and colleagues at work. And they’ll know how interesting you are!
5) Watch TV – news anchors usually speak good English
6) Watch films without subtitles
7) Listen to podcasts, itunes, and a good one: ecorner.stanford.edu for videos for ETL courses
8) Learn how people talk where you live….
9) Don’t be embarrassed by how you speak, everyone here comes from somewhere…..
10) Make sure you think in English and don’t translate
11) Talk to everyone around you, people here are willing to have a short, informal conversation.
4) When you work on learning American pronunciation, the mouth muscles are really important to train. On Skype, you can totally zoom in on your coach’s mouth and try to copy how s/he makes the sounds. There are also YouTube videos that show the different sounds. And you can check out my course on Udemy where I talk about learning American English fast.
5) If you are taking an online class, you can go over the material until you have mastered the phrase or sound. No being afraid to bore other people with your attempts.
6) If you are being coached online, you can put together your own schedule as well as use your iphone where you taped yourself for unlimited online practice
7) You can also train your listening skills, if you can’t see the speaker it’s much harder to understand spoken English; it’s the same as if you were on the phone.
Sure, accent reduction classes with a coach at your side who pays attention to your every word and gesture is good to have; but, seeing what is available online nowadays, you can also improve your accent by taking classes online as long as you take it seriously and put in the practice time.