English is a rich language, with many root languages and sources. And English is an actively evolving language, with new words, phrases and usages being introduced regularly. And as such, it's also a very complicated language, especially for those whose mother tongues are anything but English. While many people can write English well, it's sometimes the spoken English that they have difficulty with. This is a problem experienced by immigrants, tourists, and especially employees of outsourcing companies who are located outside of the major English-speaking countries like the US, UK and Australia.
Whatever your case may be, you can most definitely improve your spoken English such that you'll be speaking like a local.
- Think English. Most people whose mother tongue is not English usually think in their mother tongue. Therefore, when you speak your thoughts, you would be most comfortable in that language, instead of English. Thinking in English helps you have a better flow of thoughts which are in English, too.
- Observe native English speakers. One good way to learn English is to observe English speakers, particularly the way they move and open their mouths. People from different mother tongues have different ways of opening their mouths upon reciting certain syllables. If you can watch carefully how a native English speaker says his words, especially on the vowel parts, then you can more carefully mimic these.
- Check your rhythm. Language is also a "song" and not just spoken word. This means when you speak, there is rhythm to your voice. And different languages have different rhythms. Variances in speed and tone can mean much. For starters, try going for a more neutral rhythm, meaning don't speed up or slow down too much. It may be monotonous at first, but at least you can restrain yourself from speaking like you would in your mother tongue. With this, you can more carefully learn how to stress words, and how to differentiate statements from questions, and how to pace yourself while speaking in English.
- Record yourself. A great way to check for mispronunciations and problems in rhythm is recording yourself speaking for a few minutes, and playing back the audio again and again. You can try re-recording the same sentences until you get things right.
- Practice in front of a mirror and then with friends. Imagine that you're introducing yourself to a new acquaintance, and say something about yourself. This can help build up your confidence in speaking the language. Then try practicing with a friend. Spend a day just talking in English, so you can get the hang of it.
- Neutralize your accent. This may be a subjective issue, but whether you're already a native English speaker or not, you would most probably have a certain way of speaking it. Try speaking slowly, and taking out all traces of being British, Aussie, Southern, or whatever it is that you're used to. This way, you can more easily adopt to whichever accent or way of speaking that you desire.
Breaking language barriers is an excellent way to reach out, more so if it's a language that most people around the world would consider universal. You don't necessarily have to get it perfectly the first time, but regular practice will help you speak better English.