HERE is a query from one of our friends from some time back. I am giving my response to that query in this post.
QUESTION: Is it too late to start reading? I really want to sharpen my speaking skills.
ANSWER: No, it is not too late to read. Reading will help you in many ways – you learn more, you can learn about stuff that you may not be able to learn in school or university.
It can sharpen your mind.
It can help you form ideas to create new stuff. Thomas Edison and Mike Lazaridis were great readers. They read shelves and shelves of books when they were young – when they were 10 or 12 years old.
With so much information in their minds, they became creative people – they became inventors.
Edison invented many things including the phonograph (first sound-recording device) and the incandescent light bulb.
Lazaridis is the co-inventor of Blackberry, the Smartphone.
Now here are tips for you to speak better English.
1. LISTEN TO GOOD SPEAKERS
Listen to good speakers of the language – the best would be to listen to BBC or ABC radio.
Or, watch CNN or BBC TV programmes, particularly news.
CNN uses more of the American English type, BBC uses British and ABC uses Australian.
Try to see the differences in those different forms of English when listening to their programmes.
If you cannot access those, tune in to NBC radio or Kundu TV when those with good speaking skills are hosting programmes.
I am saying “those with good skills” because many of us in PNG, including radio announcers, are not speaking standard English.
I mean we are speaking English but are not pronouncing the worlds correctly.
2. SPEAK ENGLISH
Whenever you are in school or in a place that people are speaking English, use the opportunity to use the language.
And take pride in the use of the language.
It is the same as when you are learning a different language – like French or Japanese.
The more you speak a language, the better you become at it. There is no substitution for the exercise of using the language in conversation.
And do not substitute your own pronunciation for English sounds – like many do - work to get them right.
Note that such English words are not pronounced the same: met/mat; set/sat; sheet/seat; three/tree; etc.
3. READ A LOT
To be a very good speaker, push yourself to read - newspapers, magazines, novels, etc.
The more you read, the more choice of words would be at your fingertips to use when speaking.
4. SPEAKING IN PUBLIC
Most English classes (at the upper levels) will teach and assess students on public speaking skills.
Work hard to be a better speaker before a crowd/class – even if you are naturally shy.
They say the best topics to talk about are those that you know inside- out – like speaking about yourself and about your interests.
One public speaking topic I chose (when I was doing first year in university) was on the speed of light and waves, something that I was interested in as a Science student.
I did well because I enjoyed talking about these things.
Church activities often provide good opportunities for young people to stand before a crowd and perform (as in singing a song or reciting a Bible verse).
Use those opportunities to up your level in speaking.
I once heard a pastor saying that he got his preacher-boys/song leaders to sing a lot so that when they spoke in a church, they could be heard from the very back.
There are things called elocution and volume. Elocution is the art of public speaking.
Someone who is eloquent is someone who is effective in communicating with an audience in public.
5. DO NOT SHY AWAY FROM OPPORTUNITIES
I heard a teacher once said that in all her teaching life (20+ years), she had not taken an assembly parade. I could not understand that.
Do better than her. Use opportunities to better yourself.
I think that is all for now.