El Speaking es probablemente la destreza que más se nos atraganta cuando estamos aprendiendo inglés. Si tu nivel es básico, probablemente te cueste incluso empezar una conversación, o hacer una frase correctamente, y si ya llevas más años estudiando, lo más normal es que te veas estancado con un vocabulario y gramática bastante limitado. A veces te dará la impresión de que mientras cada vez entiendes más a la hora de leer y escuchar, tu speaking se ha quedado un poco atrás.
No te preocupes. No eres un caso aislado. A todos nos ha pasado. Aquí te doy algunos tips para mejorar tu expresión oral en el nivel avanzado.
A common idea among learners of English is that, when they have reached an upper-intermediate level, they do not struggle that much to understand dialogues anymore. However, their “productive skills” (i.e.: writing, and especially speaking) are a bit lacking in comparison.
Believe me, you are not alone. Literally, everyone is going to find it more difficult to spontaneously produce a coherent, articulate and eloquent message than to understand the ideas and even the nuances found in an oral or written text.
And not only are students at this level expected to engage in a conversation or be able to express themselves in an intelligible manner, but to be able to be precise, communicative, and articulate. In short, words, to be able to produce compelling speeches where the exact meaning that one wants to convey is indeed, conveyed: the right words, the right expressions, the right shades of meaning; you know, being able to convey plenty of meaningful ideas about a variety of topics. That is something doable, provided that the basics (intermediate grammar, vocabulary, and phonetics) are in check. This is (a really wobbly foundation in the bedrock of the language), unfortunately, a very common problem that I see. Yes, even in advanced students.
And also one is expected at this level to have a more than decent pronunciation. Not sounding like a native, mind you, but making sure that the way you sound in English does not get in the way of the message you are trying to get across. Instead, pronunciation and intonation should emphasize that message.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of things you have to pull off speaking-wise. Don’t be discouraged in the least and tempted to quit for good! But it is necessary to understand and acknowledge the challenges you will be met with.
The reality is that most of us do not find the opportunity to have conversations with others in English regularly. After all, we are not living in an English-speaking country and 99% of our interactions are carried out in Spanish. Language exchanges/tandems held in certain bars and pubs in the city are a feasible option to get together with other learners and foreigners who may or may not be more fluent than us and engage in conversations. And so are video calls via Skype or Zoom. But all of these have in common that you need to make time and slot those tasks in an already busy schedule. So they are not extremely realistic options for the majority of people.
What I suggest my students do instead is use their mobile phones. Even the most basic mobile phones have a default recording app, so make sure you use that one. I, for example, use WhatsApp voice recording device, and try to record myself every now and then. Doing that with a variety of conversation topics is going to provide you with convenient practice and also give you a sense of self-awareness. I recommend recording yourselves frequently and going back to those recordings to spot what areas need to be improved (basic vocabulary, flat intonation, deficient grammar, sluggish rhythm, etc.).Finally, and even though listening to authentic recordings and material is a phenomenal way to learn new expressions when we want to expand our vocabulary, do not expect that language to sink in by some sort of wizardry. You need to elaborate on it. In many different ways. Take a look at this document with language learning strategies which I compiled and which I used for the prologue of my book Speaking Mastery.