When we think of the world’s greatest leaders, one thing they all have in common is the ability to communicate well. Taking the time to improve your communication skills can be highly rewarding. Being able to communicate more effectively will help you to build stronger relationships with the people around you, and get your ideas across successfully.
It can be especially difficult to communicate clearly in English if you have not been learning for very long. Even if you have memorised endless amounts of vocabulary, practised your grammatical skills to perfection and can read books entirely in English cover-to-cover, you still might struggle to express yourself. Read on for our top tips on developing your communication skills.
Don’t expect to be able to speak as quickly in a foreign language as you can in your mother tongue. Take your time, and try to slow down your speaking speed. By speaking slower, you’ll have more time to choose your words, think about your answers, and give the best possible response. Whoever you’re trying to communicate with will appreciate that you’ve tried to select your words carefully.
Learn sentences instead of words
When you learn a new word in English, take a couple of minutes to memorise some sentences that contain it. In the long run, this will go far in helping you with conversation and communication. It isn’t unusual for language learners to know the meanings of words, but struggle to use them properly in a full sentence.
Listen to others
Pay attention to what’s being said around you, even if you’re not part of the conversation. Listening to native English speakers can help you to improve your own communication skills; you’ll pick up on body language, intonation, and accents. When you’re taking part in a conversation, let the other person speak without interrupting, and hopefully they’ll repay the favour for you when you’re talking.
Improve your communication skills by asking questions- it will help to show that you’re interested in who you’re talking to and what they’re saying. Asking questions is the best way to keep a conversation going, and it will help you out too by making sure you’re not the one that has to do all the talking. Here are a few examples that could come in handy:
- What do you think about that?
- How about you?
- Why do you think that?
Your body language often reveals more than you think it does. You could tell your friend you’re listening but have your eyes glued to your phone screen, or tell someone you’re ready for a discussion but have your arms firmly crossed. Eye contact is also a big giveaway; making and maintaining eye contact is a big indicator of confidence. Think about the signals your body is giving off when you’re talking to other people, and you might notice a change in how others perceive you.
Improving your communications skills in English is a difficult task, but one that can be achieved with some hard work and by paying particular attention to how we come across in conversation. If you need some extra help, check out TLG’s Speaking Skills elective.