Students often ask me what could they do to improve their oral skills. Some watch movies or shows to learn the north american accent. Let me tell you something. Not every north american speaks the same way. Northerners have trouble understanding the southern drawl. While it helps to sound the way Americans do, the most important thing in oral communication or any communication of that matter is “clarity”. Expressiveness is the next best thing to add to your arsenal. Let me talk more about each of these.
People communicate a thought that is in their minds. The clarity with which they can form sentences to convey that thought is communication. What might be straight forward to the person speaking may not be the same for the person hearing. This does not mean you have to be grammatically correct. Colloquial speaking throws that out of the window. Of course, there are formal and informal ways of communication. With various messaging, chat etc services, students tend to mix formal and informal ways of communication. So, the key is to present your thought in the most concise, simple and clear manner. You do not have to sound fancy or use fancy words to achieve this.
The next is expressiveness. The more words you know that is the better vocabulary you have, the better you will get at being more expressive. There are so many ways to say the same thing. But, that is the difference between a regular person and a good orator.
One exercise I recommend students trying to improve spoken skills should do is to “think in english”. Non native speakers tend to translate sentences from their native languages to english. Speakers need to realize this does not help. When a person wants to say something, he/she definitely thinks about it in their minds in the language they are most comfortable with. They do this when talk to themselves as well. I suggest replacing that native language with english. This will make you spontaneous. You are no longer translating between two languages to speak. This changes everything. The best way to do this is to practice it. Talk to your friends, family. The more you speak, the better you get!