Improving one's speaking abilities can be a lifelong journey, and it starts with self-reflection. Everyone makes mistakes while speaking, even after spending countless hours studying grammar, but the key to progress is acknowledging and correcting these errors. A speaking partner who can offer constructive criticism and help you fix these mistakes is an invaluable resource.
Grammar is just the foundation of good speaking, but incorporating a diverse range of sentence structures can bring a speech to the next level. Remember, the reason people learn about different sentence structures in the first place was to make it easier for anyone to vary his/her speech and make it more engaging for listeners. By transforming two simple sentences into one complex sentence, one can express ideas and thoughts in a clearer and more concise manner.
Good speaking is not only about being grammatically correct; it is about conveying thoughts and ideas in a way that is easy for others to understand and engage with. Combining proper grammar with a varied range of sentence structures can take speaking abilities to new heights and truly connect with those around us.
Let us see the next passages to compare, identify, and understand what changes to bring to make a speech sound better.
"I woke up early today. I was going to meet my friends. They were busy. So, I went to a coffee shop. I sat there by myself. I listened to music and read a book and had a strawberry fruit chiller.
I also overheard the four boys talking beside me about their studies. I felt like an old person. I could just sit there and not worry about my studies. I was only passing a good time with myself and preparing for a hectic day at work."
"I woke up early since I had planned to meet my friends today. Unfortunately, they were all busy and so I decided to spend time with myself. As I sat at the cafe by myself enjoying a strawberry chiller, I could not but overhear the four boys at the table beside me talking about their studies. I have to admit that it was liberating in its own way that I did not have to worry about my academics anymore. At the same time, I took my time to plan my day at work and arrange my work ahead of time."
The second passage instantly looks better with the use of lexical resources and cohesive devices. While most sentences are simple in the first one, the second passage has a mixture of simple, complex, and compound sentences which makes the passage sound more comprehensive.
Let us look at the two passages carefully and mark the differences between them. As the first two sentences are actually related to a purpose, using 'since' connects the thought. Similarly, using 'unfortunately' at the beginning of the second sentence puts emotion into the sentences. Using 'and so' to connect the sentences shows a cause-and-effect relationship as well. Getting rid of redundancy in the next sentences but dropping the word 'fruit' after strawberry makes the sentences easier to read and comprehend. Using 'I could not but' instead of using 'I also' makes the sentence sound more fulfilling. Finally, the use of 'At the same time' in the final sentence maintains coherence between the last two sentences showing compare and contrast.
Analysing how much better a speech can get only with the help of some valuable but easily forgotten resources, a speaker can now proceed to identify what changes his/her speech from good to great. Frequent use of cohesive devices, grammatical range, and lexical resources are bound to make a speech sound more professional and thoughts more gathered.
Having someone to provide constructive feedback and guidance while speaking can greatly enhance language skills. This is because speaking with a partner is a tried-and-true method of improving language skills, much like how we learn our mother tongue by speaking the language.
When speaking in a native language, individuals tend to make fewer grammatical errors and seamlessly connect sentences. A speaking partner helps to identify and address mistakes, leading to improved fluency. Once the flaws in one's speaking are recognised, it becomes easier to avoid repeating the same mistakes. With error-free speaking, individuals can then focus on refining other aspects such as fluency and pronunciation.
Many non-native English speakers shy away from speaking due to concerns about fluency and pronunciation. However, a speaking partner can help address these concerns by providing guidance and support in a distraction-free environment. Through dedicated speaking practice for a fixed period of time, fluency and pronunciation can both be improved. By actively working to improve language skills, individuals will see their progress firsthand.
Mohidul Alam is an undergrad student at NYU, Abu Dhabi, and the founder of Edvive, and Zarin Tasnim Safa, a BBA graduate from IBA, DU working as a business generalist at Edvive. Edvive is a portfolio startup of the ICT Division, government of Bangladesh with a practice-focused platform that makes learning English, as a secondary language, become a super efficient, gamified experience.