How to Use More English in Your Speaking

| - Tim Lake |

If you are learning English then mostly what you want and need to do is speak and talk. Whether you are in a lesson, a meeting or chatting with friends, the main thing is to be able to say what you want to say and answer questions in the best way possible.




There is a simple rule we can use to make sure you don’t give answers that are too short:

Answer + Extra information.


The other rule is:

Don’t give one-word answers.


This can be hard when you are a beginner and don’t feel confident making sentences. But, the more you make an effort to answer in complete sentences, even simple ones, the better your speaking will become.



And for those intermediate to advanced English learners, there are no excuses for giving one-word answers to questions!



So, how do you add that extra information?



That is simple too. We use questions to help us think about extra points to add - what, when, where, who, why and how. A lot of times you will find that why and how open up the most possibilities.



Why is particularly important because we need to think about having good reasons for our likes, opinions and beliefs.



Let’s look at an easy example.



Question: What’s your favourite movie or film?

Answer: Dune is my favourite film.


So, think about “how”. There are many possibilities here but let’s think about it, “how many times have you seen it”?



Now our answer becomes:



Dune is my favourite film. I’ve seen it five times.


A “where” question might be useful here, “where did you see it?”



Dune is my favourite film. I’ve seen it five times including two times at the IMAX theatre.


Now, that is a pretty decent answer which would create further interest and more conversation. You could however take it much further and add a lot more details. This would turn your answer into a small speech. Not so good for conversation but good for speaking practice.



Dune is my favourite film. I’ve seen it five times including two times at the IMAX theatre. When I first saw it with my friend, I was amazed. Not only is the story exciting, but it also looks beautiful. The music and sound effects are incredible too. It is a science fiction story set in the far future, but most of the story takes place on a desert planet where people have to wear special suits to recycle water. The whole thing is fantastic. But, did you know it is only half the story? The second part is set to be released in 2023...


You get the idea; lots of what, when, where, who, and why in there.



You can do this with almost any question and it is a good thing to practice doing on your own. Find a question that you’ve been asked or want to answer and think about how many details you can add. Practice speaking the answer to yourself many times, trying to add more and more details. You’ll soon get better at it.



Using question words to come up with details is a simple way to speak more English. Give it a go.