With more than 1.5 billion people speaking English, it is the most widely used language globally. English brings down barriers across countries and cultures. So, improving your communication skills in English is bound to open many doors for your career and social life. Even if improving your communication skills in English seem challenging, you can do it! Here’s everything about how to improve your communication skills in English.
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Why Should You Improve Your Communication Skills in English?
English is a ‘lingua franca,’ a bridge language or common language with more than 1.5 billion English speakers (native or second language). So when people from different countries or cultures meet, the one thing that connects them is – English, as a common language.
Also, English is the most common official language. And it is the most common language used on the worldwide web. But unfortunately, around 770,000 people living in England can hardly speak any English, if at all, as per census data. Regardless, knowing English language skills effectively is a significant advantage, whether you started learning English communication in infancy or adulthood.
If you don’t speak English, then you can’t take full advantage of the opportunities that modern Britain has to offer you. If you don’t speak English well enough, that can limit your opportunities, especially in the workplace. So make yourself more competitive by improving your English through training in Business English and Communication.
Before learning how to improve your communication skills in English, we should know the four basic languages skills.
- 1. Reading
- 2. Writing
- 3. Listening
- 4. Speaking
You need all four skills to be great at communicating in any language, which is the same for English. But since you are reading this blog, it’s safe to assume that reading isn’t the part where you need help. So we’ll focus on improving your speaking, listening, and writing skills.
How to Improve Your Speaking Skills in English?
Do not be afraid of making mistakes when improving your speaking skills. It’s okay. We all learn by making mistakes. Here are some tips to help you improve your speaking skills in English.
1. Talk to Native English Speakers
No matter how scary it sounds, it’s the most effective way to improve your speaking skills. Just remember why you want to improve your communication skills in English and how much you want it to get over your initial hesitation. Because it will be worth it!
If you have a native English speaking neighbour, invite them over to dinner. If you meet a tourist, strike up a conversation. And the secret to keeping any conversation going is to ask questions. Ask them about their dogs or cats, what hobbies they have, what they like to do in their spare time etc. But remember not to be rude or irritate them with too many questions.
2. Find a Conversation Partner Online
If you’re not comfortable speaking face to face with people, go online. There are millions of people all over the world who also want to improve their communication skills in English. You’ll find a lot of communities or groups of English learners on social apps or dedicated websites.
You can practise your speaking skills with your partner through audio calls, or you can skype them. Choose a time and media that works for both of you and help each other through your journey.
3. Offer a Language Exchange
Through language exchange, individuals connect who want to practice and improve their foreign language speaking skills. For example, suppose you speak Spanish very well, so you need to find someone who speaks English well and wants to learn Spanish. You’ll teach them to speak Spanish, and they’ll help you improve your English communication skills. This way, both you and your language exchange partner benefit from it, and you make a new friend!
4. Notice the Rhythm of English
Learning to speak well in English is not just about being grammatically correct. It’s also about the delivery – how you pronounce each word, how you convey a message. Because we don’t just express messages, we also express emotion through spoken communication.
So you have to notice carefully – how people’s mouths form each word, how they emphasise some words in a sentence. Notice the humour, decipher the sarcasm, the formality in their voice and tone. Learn how they add context to their messages through the ups and downs in their tone. Frankly, there’s a lot you can learn if you pause and listen to the rhythm when people are speaking.
5. Slow Down a Bit
Speaking fast doesn’t mean you’re good at communicating. For the most part, being good at speaking means people can understand you easily. But sometimes, when we get nervous, we tend to speed up to get it over with fast. That’s exactly what you shouldn’t be doing!
Slow down a bit and remember that clarity is key for effective communication.
So don’t push yourself to finish it up quickly, be patient with yourself. Take your time and speak clearly.
6. Hear What You Sound like
Yes, we hear ourselves all the time, but how do we sound like to others? None of us really know what we sound like. So it’s a good idea to record yourself. This will help you find out the weak and strong points in your speech. And you will know what you need to work on.
Suppose you have a job interview tomorrow. So record yourself while answering some common interview questions. By doing so, you make sure that your English communication skills at the interview will be perfect. Another plus point is that it will boost your confidence in your English communication skills.
If you don’t feel like recording yourself, get your favourite English book and read it aloud. This will improve your reading and speaking skills. Also, you will learn more words and get comfortable using them in a conversation.
7. Speak English, Everywhere!
A common beginners mistake is only speaking English when they need to. You go to work; you talk in English. And then you come home and, viola, back to your native tongue. Practice makes perfect! So you have to practise English to improve your communication skills.
Stick to English when you go home, talk to your family or your roommates in English. Let them be a part of the ‘How to Improve Your Communication Skills in English’ journey. When they participate with you, this will make you more motivated, and they might also improve their skills in the process. So don’t be shy to speak English anywhere. Your home, grocery store, and gym… look at all of these places as opportunities to practice and improve.
How to Improve Your English Listening Skills?
“Huh? What? Can you please repeat that?”
“Sorry? Can you say that again?”
Sounds familiar, right? Well, we’ve all been there.
Listening can be one of the hardest skills for language learners. Even native or people who speak English well may face issues from time to time in listening.
This picture shows exactly what one shoudn’t do, but sadly this is very common. However, a large part of good communication is understanding what you hear. That’s why it’s important to work on listening skills.
8. Read and Listen at the Same Time
A good way to improve your listening skills is to read and listen at the same time.
Do you have a favourite English film? Great! Watch it with subtitles.
Do you have a favourite English book? Listen to the audiobook while reading it.
You’re watching a video (preferably in English) on YouTube? Turn on the English subtitles.
This is a very effective way to improve your communication skills in English. This way, you’ll be listening to and reading the words, which will make it easier to understand everything and help you to remember more. So basically, you learn to improve your listening skills while being entertained.
9. Listen to English Songs, Podcasts, News etc.
Well, listen to anything you like, but in English. The more you listen, the better you’ll be able at understanding English. It will also enrich your vocabulary in English. You’ll learn intonations, stress and various pronunciation styles.
Intonation is referred to the rise or fall of voice (high or low sounds) while speaking. Stress refers to how we emphasise certain words more than others in a sentence. In English, we use intonation and stress to communicate emotion or attitude.
When you hear English in various settings, you’ll get better at noticing intonation, stress. Then you can easily understand and learn the difference between a statement or a question.
10. Use Different Audio Speeds While Listening.
Everyone has a different way of speaking and different accents. For example, someone speaks slowly, while some people speak very fast. Even the people who are proficient in English may have difficulties in understanding when someone speaks very fast.
However, you can train yourself to understand what people are saying. When you are listening to a podcast or an audiobook, play around with the audio speed. You might be pleasantly surprised at how effective that can be in improving your listening skills.
First, you can try to listen to it at a normal speed. You might not understand everything at first. But hey! That happens to all of us. Or you might understand everything, in that case, great!
Based on how well you understood on the first try, you can increase or decrease your audio or play speed. For instance, if you have trouble listening or understanding a few words, you can play at .75x speed. It will help you understand what they are saying at a slower speed. You can go slower if you need but try not to go slower than .6x.
On the other hand, if you understood everything, step it up a bit. You can increase your speed to 1.25x or 1.5x to test your limit. The more you challenge yourself, the more improved your listening skills will be.
How to Improve Your English Writing Skills?
For some people, written communication is a huge part of their daily life. No matter how good your vocabulary is or how well you can speak English, if you can’t write an email or a report for work, sorry to spell it out for you, but your English communication skills are poor.
Your goal of improving your written communication in English should start with the basics. So what are basic writing skills?
Some basic writing skills include spelling, capitalisation, punctuation, and sentence structure. These are the primary “mechanics” of writing. But improving written communication skills in English is more than getting the basics covered.
11. Read, Read, and Read
How much you read is somewhat interconnected with how well you can write. How? If you read an article, your subconscious picks up a lot from that particular article — writing style, new words etc.
The best way to improve your written communication skills in English is to read. Read the newspaper, read a magazine, read a leaflet, read a dictionary — whatever you can find! Read about the level of communication style you want to achieve and enrich your vocabulary along the way.
For instance, if you want to learn about improving your email writing skills, you should find well-written emails and follow that standard. Eventually, you’ll know how to write great emails without having to Google ‘how to write an email?’ every time you have to write one.
12. Write Regularly
You can’t really improve your writing skills without actually writing. You can write about anything and everything. For example, you can keep a journal, you can write about your pet, you can write about what you like to eat. As you keep doing it, it’ll get easier, and you will see a clear improvement in your writing.
And who knows, your ‘dear diary moments’ might turn out to be a published memoir one day. There’s nothing wrong with aiming big. Just take one step at a time.
For now, our aim is to learn ‘how to improve your written communication skills in English.’ While writing is the first step, it’s not the end.
Whenever you finish writing anything, proofread it. Check for grammar mistakes, punctuation errors, poor sentence structures. These might seem like small things, but they make a lot of difference in written communication.
For example, if you are writing a CV for a new job, and you forget to proofread your CV. This might result in not being called for an interview even if you have all the necessary skills and qualifications.
14. Utilise Resources
One can not be a pro at everything. So it’s okay to utilise resources that are at your disposal. You can find lots of free dictionaries and quizzes, games to help improve your writing skills. More importantly, there are apps to make your writing better. Take Grammarly, for example; it can improve your writing with just a few clicks. You can also find other similar apps, extensions, and websites to resolve any writing issues you may have.
Tips on How to Improve Your Communication Skills in English
After you make sure your speaking, listening, and writing skills are good enough, you may focus on your overall communication skills in English. Here are some ways on how to improve your communication skills in English.
Practise and Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes Along the Way
This is the very first step of learning ‘How to improve your communication skills in English’. Practice makes perfect. So there’s no alternative to practising.
It’s only natural to make mistakes while communicating, but the important thing is to keep going. Don’t be embarrassed or shy if you make a mistake. People understand that mistakes happen. People are more likely to notice a mistake if you stop, so it’s wise to keep going.
If you want to improve your English in a particular setting, for instance, in your workplace, you can learn common English jargon’s used in your particular industry and practice them. If you think you need extra help in improving your English in your workplace, Business English and Communication training can help you overcome your fear.
Think Before You Speak
Improved communication skills in English translates to clarity and how well others understand what you’re trying to say. Therefore, keep it concise so that people may understand you easily.
How to keep it brief and concise? Think before you speak. Yes, if you plan what you’re going to say, you can keep it short while being clear. And that’s effective communication.
Listen Carefully and Ask Questions
While communicating, it’s important to stay relevant and to the point. But you can’t do that if you don’t understand what the other person is saying. So whenever you don’t understand something, ask questions. When you ask questions, it shows you’re interested in the conversation. And it is a great way to improve your understanding.
On the other hand, if you don’t ask questions, the other person might think you aren’t even listening and aren’t very interested. Also, not asking questions may lead to miscommunication. A simple ‘why’ can go a long way to improve your communication skills in English.
Remember the 7 C’s of Effective Communication
The seven C’s of communication are applicable for effective communication in any language. So you can use these seven C’s like a checklist to improve your communication skills in English. The seven C’s of communication are — clear, concise, correct, concrete, complete, coherent and courteous.
While communicating, your message should be clear and easily understandable to others. The purpose of communication should be clear to the receiver.
Secondly, your message should be correct. For instance, it is important to ensure that there are no grammatical and spelling mistakes in written communication.
Your message should be complete. That means it must include all the relevant information. Your message should answer any question the other party might have.
Your communication should be concrete but not vague. The message should be clear enough that there’s no room for misinterpretation. You should mention all the facts and figures to support your message.
Your message should be precise and to the point. You should avoid long sentences and try to convey the message using the least possible words. A concise message helps retain attention and is more comprehensive.
Does your message make sense? If the answer is yes, then it is coherent. A coherent message has a logical flow to it. Also, in written communication, avoid covering too many topics at once.
It is important to remain courteous in communication. It will ensure that you take the other feelings and viewpoints into consideration while communicating. Being courteous helps build goodwill. So remember to be courteous and show respect while communicating.
Ask for Feedback
Let’s face it; we are not the best judge when it comes to ourselves. Sometimes we need a second opinion or a different perspective.
So, if you’re not sure about your written skills, ask your colleague to check your writing for you and ask them to share their feedback. Or, if you’re preparing for a presentation in English, show your partner or colleagues a demo and work on their given feedback.
Take Constructive Criticism Positively
Whether you ask for feedback or not, there will be criticism. So you’ll need to learn how to take constructive criticism positively and work on them. Criticism from others can help you improve your communication skills immensely.
Failing to take criticism positively can hurt your ability to improve, and it can be very demotivating. Having a positive attitude when someone is giving criticism is a great way to improve your communication skills.
Pay Attention to Body Language
Body language is used for non-verbal communication. So it isn’t directly related to your language skills improvement. But body language is an important part of communication that can help improve your communication skills in English too. So, improving your communication skills in English is not limited to enhancing your spoken and written communication. You can do so by improving your body language too.
The gestures you make, your posture, tone of voice, and eye contact can help improve your communication skills in English. And to improve your body language, you need to understand other people’s body language. So pay attention to other people’s body language and think about the signals your body is giving off while communicating. This will help you understand how others perceive you.
Empathy is the ability to recognise emotions in others, and it’s an important part of communication in any language. Empathy helps you understand other people’s perspectives on a given situation. Having empathy means you realise what someone is saying, why they are saying it. It allows you to understand what someone else feels, and it enables you to use this insight to improve your communication with others.
To practice empathy, imagine yourself in their shoes, try to understand what they feel and think, gauge their body language. This will come in handy especially when you are dealing with a negative situation, like when you disagree with someone. Also, when you go the extra mile and try to understand where they are coming from, it enhances your communication ability significantly.
What Not to Do When Communicating in English?
Now that we’ve covered How to improve your communication skills in English, let’s learn what not to do when communicating. Because let’s face it, it’s better to know ‘what not to do’ than actually doing them and then being embarrassed.
Well, it should be a given, but worth mentioning seeing as to how regularly miscommunication happens. Check out this video to understand miscommunication and how to avoid it.
Avoid Using Slang or Fancy Accents in English
Using slang is very unprofessional and can be seen as disrespectful to some people. And copying accent is not very helpful when you’re trying to communicate effectively. It’s better to use your natural accent and pronounce every word properly.
Refrain from Overcomplicating Your Message
Clear communication is our main goal. Without achieving clarity, you can not improve your communication skills. Also, using large words or difficult phrases don’t necessarily enhance communication.
Avoid Using Too Many Filler Words
Filler words like ‘um’, ‘uh’, etc., make you sound less confident, and it represents weak communication skills. Take your time and think before you speak to avoid this.
Don’t Talk Too Fast
Speaking too fast may result in more errors, and your audience may not even understand what you’re saying.
Don’t Be Defensive
When it comes to your communication skills, don’t be defensive or offensive. Try to stay neutral and take the criticism positively.
Learning how to improve your communication skills in English is worth it. Why?
The more fluent you are in English, the better opportunities you will have.
The more fluent you are in English, the more career paths you will have
The more fluent you are in English, the more interesting, exciting your life can turn out to be.
Learning to improve your communication skills in English will enable life-enriching experiences like travelling, studying and working abroad possible. So work hard and pay more attention to how you come across in a conversation. And if you need some extra help, take this Effective Communication Skills Course.
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