Improving your English Conversation ability; Five ways to gain confidence and have fun!

As a foreigner living in Tokyo, one of the questions I am often asked is “How can I improve my English conversation skills?”

By combining several actions, your goal smooth English conversation my become easier to attain! Here are five recommendations;

#1 Take a class;

This may sound obvious, but the point to take a class is as follows; After making the decision to invest the time and money to take a class, there is a higher possibility that that class will lead to other activities which will help your goal as well. The act of taking the class influences other behavior which leads to the same goal! It does not need to be very expensive or time consuming, just one hour once per week is enough, that may lead to additional opportunities. For example, you may meet others in the class with the same goal, those people may provide support.

#2 Attend social events where English is spoken

Tokyo has many social events regularly where English is spoken. Many of the people who attend social gatherings will attend alone, so there is no reason to be worried about attending alone. Attending social events takes a person outside of the normal comfort zone, but it is actually a way to not only practice English conversation, but to gain social skill, the ability to meet new people and make small talk, that is useful in any language!

#3 Make friends with some foreigners in Tokyo

There are many opportunities to make foreign friends in Tokyo, aside from gatherings or parties, it is also possible to find Language Exchange friends through online bulletin boards. Exchange some messages first and screen your friends carefully, meet in a Starbucks or similar location, that way you can feel safe since meeting a stranger should be done with caution in any country in the world. If your language exchange friend does not seem like a good match, just make a short conversation and politely say goodbye, try again and there may be better luck the next time!

#4 Watch Hollywood Movies

Again this may sound obvious, most people will watch Hollywood movies a couple of times per year whether we like it or not! Watching Hollywood movies can sometimes be something we do but are not proud of, like having lunch at McDonalds! It depends on the quality of the movie. In this case, the goal is to find a movie that is ‘rich’ in dialogue (meaning purposeful conversation) and preferably with some emotion. If the subject is of some special interest to the viewer, that will make it much easier to watch several times! Now the key is, to watch the movie in English, with special attention to the dialogue. Note the intonation and the emotion which the speaker uses when they deliver the dialogue. If the English is to fast or filled with unknown references, it is useful to watch with Subtitles instead. If the meaning is still unclear, try with the Japanese voice over (dubbing) a few times. It is a good idea to watch several times, another reason to choose an interesting movie. That is one of the reasons this is such a highly recommended study method, it is also a way to have fun and perhaps become more educated if the movie is chosen carefully! See our list of Top 5 recommended movies to study English conversation!

#5 Listen to popular music

Popular music, generally meaning ‘Top 40’ music, is easy to find. It is the music that is being played all over the world, sometimes not easy to keep up to date but worth the effort! Listening to the lyrics of popular music can be an education in slang, not the kind of conversation suitable for most situations. However such lyrics often reflect the kinds of vocabulary being used among young people, it can be interesting and useful in certain situations. Moreover, a knowledge of popular music is one of good ways to make conversation, which will help when socializing and making friends! Want to get our recommended Top 40 song? Contact us and we will mail you one for free!

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