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Speaking

Students often ask how they can improve their speaking; the short answer is they need to actually do it, in as many contexts as possible. To really improve it is essential to be speaking regularly outside of the classroom.

In SACLL there are sets of materials which can be used for practising speaking, in pairs or in groups. There are also lots of materials to stimulate discussion. You can get together with some other students, or you can join a conversation club or a peer mentoring session.

In addition, you can get involved in different societies and activities in your university
and local community. The Reading University Student Union has many sports clubs and societies which can be academic (for example, the Chemistry Society or the Debating Society) or based on a hobby (such as K-pop or Photography). You can also get involved in different volunteering opportunities and work towards the RED Award.

There are various aspects of speaking that you can work on:

Accuracy

When you are focussing on accuracy, you concentrate on your grammatical structure, the vocabulary you use, word forms, pronunciation, etc. At times it is important to do this; to think consciously about what you are saying, and try and incorporate various aspects of language that you have been learning in class.

Fluency

Fluency in speaking comes with confidence in using the language; when you focus on communicating your ideas, and do not worry too much about grammatical structure.

A balance of both accuracy and fluency is important. It is possible to be a fluent speaker but make many grammatical errors, and the speaker who focuses only on producing accurate sentences can make for painful communication.

Useful links for Speaking & Pronunciation

  • BBC learning English - Tim's Pronunciation Workshopis a great resource for pronunciation (especially connected speech features). Tim's Pronunciation Workshop shows learners how English is really spoken, which is beneficial for becoming both a better listener and a more fluent speaker.

  • BBC learning English - Pronunciation tips is dedicated to English pronunciation with video and audio. No longer updated, but still very useful.

  • YouGlish is a site that can help with the pronunciation of English words. You tap the word you want to know the pronunciation and the search engine will show you clips in which this word is pronounced in a context by a native speaker. When you click on the word in the subtitles, you can also see the meaning of the word.

  • This link on the BBC World Service business page looks at presentations.
Things to do now

Contact SACLL to find out about the availability of sessions to practise your speaking skills.

Email sacll@reading.ac.uk for more information.

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