Japanese have the lowest English speaking skills in the world, based on those that took the TOEFL test.  However, speaking skills are becoming more and more important. Of course, speaking in English is necessary to travel the world, study abroad, and to make international friends.Speaking skills are becoming more and more valued by Japanese companies; some require meetings to take place in English and others are increasingly requiring job applicants to take oral tests, like the TOEIC speaking test. Are your oral skills good enough?

The best way to practice speaking is to find opportunities to speak and interact:
  • Speak up and participate actively in class! Don’t waste your chance by worrying too much about how you sound. Also, take Advanced English classes that involve speaking,
  • Go to the L-Cafe: English Cafe. You can interact with exchange students for free! Some of them are paid (the ones with the badge hanging from their neck), so you do not have to worry about interrupting them. If you can make friendship with exchange students, you can really improve!
  • After communicating, it might is good to note down new words or other things you learned. (If you don't take notes, you will forget most new language you heard.)

    Conversation hints
  1. Be ready to introduce a topic that would be good to discuss (the person’s life? sports? travel? music? school life, etc.). You can change topics with “By the way,” (E.g., “By the way, did you hear the big news yesterday about...?”) Follow Western sports, movies, tv, music, or news so you have something to discuss. (For talking to foreigners in Japan, Japanese topics may be okay.)
  2. Ask many questions. Many students don’t ask questions in conversations. This makes the conversation boring, and the other person may think you are not interested in them. Ask many questions, as long as they are not too personal or private.
  3. Have long answers (elaborate). Don’t just answer “yes.” “no. “ tennis”. Give extra information to develop the conversation. (“Do you play sports?” “Yes. I play tennis. I’ve been playing since I was 10. Actually, I’m sick of tennis, but my dad pressures me to continue!”)

Another way to practice speaking is to record your speaking on YouTube (or on your cell phone or computer). The more you talk, the better your fluency will become.

Practice your pronunciation and intonation: 
1. Shadowing: NetAcademy2 and EnglishCentral have shadowing activities. It is also good to practice pronunciation to avoid katakana English ("salad", not "salada"). 

2. Practice dictation: Go to this website. Speak the words or sentences into a mic. Does the site recognize your pronunciation and dictate correctly?

3. Repeating words & avoiding katakana English: Try practicing this set of loan words.