IMPROVING YOUR SPEAKING SKILLS S1

The best way to improve your speaking skills is, of course, to speak in English as often as possible. English teachers often suggest that there are a lot of opportunities to use spoken English in Hong Kong. While we agree, we know that taking up these opportunities requires certain ‘strategies’ (not to mention courage). We also know that for most non-native speakers problems can arise when they are using English to communicate. It is, however, important for you to make effective use of speaking practice opportunities and the first two of the advice sheets described below will help you with strategies for creating and dealing with these situations.

The next three advice sheets deal with more specific academic and professional situations in which you might be required to use spoken English.

Advice sheets in the SAC

· Creating practice opportunities: Strategies for speaking A (S2)

This advice sheet will help you to think about maximising your opportunities to use spoken English. Ways of creating your own practice opportunities are put forward and some resources (available at the SAC or elsewhere) are recommended. In addition, some ways of evaluating your speaking skills are suggested.

· Coping with problems: Strategies for speaking B (S3)

Many English learners have two main problems in using English in speaking situations: 1) they find it difficult to follow other speakers; and 2) they feel they do not have the words to express themselves. This advice sheet offers some tips (sometimes called ‘compensation strategies’) which may help you overcome these two problems.

· Improving your presentation skills (S4)

It is very likely that you will be required to give at least one oral presentation during your time at university or in the workplace in the future. This advice sheet introduces a number of SAC materials and sites on the WWW which offer useful ideas on giving oral presentations.

· Improving your interview skills (S5)

In Hong Kong today, many job interviews for professionals are conducted in English. This sheet offers advice on how to behave in an interview and, more importantly, on how to prepare for interviews. Some resources which give useful tips for interviewees are also recommended.

· Spoken English for other workplace situations (S6)

Of course, once you get a job, you may need to use English for more than just presentations. You might be required to participate in meetings, handle telephone conversations, as well as, (and perhaps most importantly) socialise and ‘chat’ with your colleagues. This sheet gives advice on using spoken English in these different kinds of situations and directs you to useful resources in the SAC and on the WWW for preparing and practising for these situations.

Further references for improving your speaking skills

Here are some questions regarding your speaking skills. You should try to answer these questions as honestly and accurately as possible. You will notice that problems with speaking can, in fact, be related to poor listening skills or strategies, pronunciation difficulties, a lack of vocabulary or grammatical inaccuracies. If these are your problems, please consult the advice sheets mentioned.

Note

This is part of the Speaking series of leaflets supporting independent language learning, produced by the HKUST Language Centre SAC team. This leaflet was redrafted by Melissa Megan, 2000. If you copy from this leaflet, please acknowledge the source. Thanks.

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