I love speaking in English.
It’s the language I feel most comfortable in.
I speak English loudly and proudly, to anybody who will listen!
You’d never know that as a kid, I was afraid of speaking in English.
The very thought of speaking up, especially in school, would terrify me.
I’d often “stammer” or get tongue-tied (unable to speak) due to a speech disability.
I was also very shy and didn’t know how to put all my thoughts into words.
And finally, English wasn’t even my native language. At home, I spoke a different language, while in school, I was forced to speak English.
So, how did I get so comfortable in English?
The answer is simple: practice and more practice.
If I could become a fluent speaker of English with effort and practice, then so can you.
And in this post, I’ll show you exactly how you can do that with the help of some online courses that you can take right from home.
You don’t need the help of a private tutor or an expensive immersion experience. All you need is dedication and a willingness to learn.
Are you excited? Read on!
How to Speak Better English from Your Own Home
Before I discuss the pros and cons of the online courses in detail, here are some tips and tricks that will improve your speaking skills in no time.
- Practice speaking English in front of a mirror (or with a friend): Speaking fluently isn’t just about saying the right words. It’s also about body language, tone and confidence. So practice speaking in front of a mirror, paying close attention to your gestures, expressions or posture. You can even have a friend or family member give you feedback.
- Use a pronunciation app and a voice recorder: The English language has some weird rules and sometimes the best way to know the right pronunciation of a word is to check the dictionary. There are also apps that use voice-recognition software and tell you if you’re pronouncing the right way or not. You can also record your own voice and play it back to check your progress.
- Use apps to find native speakers: Services like HelloTalk and Tandem help you find native speakers with whom you can practice your English and get authentic feedback.
- Watch English media content: Watching English movies or TV shows, especially on Netflix or YouTube is a good way to immerse yourself in English culture and learn about the aspects of the language that grammar books often miss out on.
- Sign up for a course like the ones listed below: Speaking fluently requires a lot of skills, so specific courses or learning programs will be of great help to you. I discuss some of the best ones below.
8 Online English Speaking Courses to Become a Confident English Speaker
I’ve curated a list of eight resources, all of which are devoted to improving one’s speaking skills. Each has its specific advantages, and you can pick the ones that best fit your learning needs and budget.
FluentU is easily one of the best English learning apps out there, and if you don’t believe me, I dare you to sign up for their free trial and experience it yourself.
FluentU uses authentic videos like commercials, movie trailers and music videos to help users learn a language. Unlike traditional ways of learning that focus on grammar rules, FluentU uses an “immersive” learning approach, where you’re exposed to real-world English content, all featuring native speakers. The idea is that as you watch, you’ll learn English quicker than you ever thought possible.
FluentU’s features make this possible: each video comes with interactive subtitles in English. If you see an unfamiliar word, you can click on it for a definition, pronunciation guide and example sentences. Each video also comes equipped with a transcript, a vocabulary list and a “learn mode” for convenient practice and review.
It’s especially great for working on your speaking skills, since you’ll be listening to native speakers and following along with subtitles. You’ll learn how the English language works, how to pronounce certain words, which syllables to stress and what to say in different situations.
And best of all, the app is for everyone, whether you’re an advanced learner or a beginner.
Some of you may already know about MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses, which are often provided by top universities. They’re usually free and come with certification. MOOCs brings world-class education right to your fingertips and are excellent for those who are already working part-time or lack access to other learning resources.
Cousera is one of the most popular platforms for MOOCS. They have lots of opportunities for learning English.
For example, this specialization course on Coursera is exclusively focused on English communication skills. Provided by Georgia Tech, it’s four months long and best suited for beginners. It includes four courses, and you can sign up for just one or for all four. In this course, you’ll learn to speak professionally, be it in person, on the phone or even online. You’ll also learn to write professional emails and build an ePortfolio.
It’s an excellent course for career advancement, or just for building your speaking confidence.
For even more targeted practice, you can check out this special course on English speeches and presentations, also on Coursera.
If you’re looking for customized English lessons that will help you be a better speaker, then give Oxford Online English a try. They have a number of English courses, including one that’s only devoted to speaking skills.
All you need to do is book a class, and you’ll be paired with a native teacher and have video lessons over Skype, WhatsApp or whatever is convenient for you. In fact, with each lesson you’ll get personalized feedback on how to improve. You’ll also have access to free lessons that will help you in your overall language learning.
Spoken English Course has a wealth of resources devoted to improving your English skills, at your own pace.
It’s excellent self-study material, and it’s all free. It covers everything from grammar, everyday conversations, IELTS preparation, useful expressions and so on. Each link opens to a short video that you can watch.
Though the material is useful to all, it’s most suitable for beginner and intermediate self-learners. I’d advise you to use this along with another app or course, like FluentU. That will speed up the learning process.
Ardobook: Basic Spoken English Course
This course is best suited for absolute beginners. It’s a 30-day course and requires at least six hours of weekly commitment. The course is designed to be interactive and engaging, with a strong focus on student participation.
By the end of the course, you’ll also have a good foundation in English grammar and vocabulary. Moreover if you miss a lesson, you’ll be provided with a recording.
In all, you’ll have access to over 70 hours of learning material, a PDF file which you can use for reference and a certificate of achievement at the end of the course.
For those looking for personalized English lessons, another option you can look into is London School Online.
They provide Skype English lessons that cover speaking and presentation skills for general use or for the workplace environment. You can also use London School Online to study for exams like the IELTS. The lessons are pretty flexible: you’ll discuss your learning goals with your trainer, assess your English level and then begin learning.
In addition to their Skype lessons, they also have a few courses that you can check out. For instance, their “English For Hospitality” course is an excellent option for developing soft skills and effectively communicating with clients.
If you’re looking for a course that will help you improve both your speaking and writing skills, then give this course on Alison a shot. It’s best suited for students and those looking to work in academics or journalism.
The course will cover some points on how to use language effectively, tips for exams and how to best approach a text. You’ll learn vital communication skills, including tips on the right tone and voice to use, that will help you during presentations or when facing a large audience.
It’s a short introductory course of two to three hours. It’s completely free and even comes with a certificate that you can add to your CV.
For a more general course, also from Alison, check out this Introduction to Conversational English course. It promises to improve your English speaking confidence in just one to two hours of coursework.
FutureLearn: Understanding IELTS: Speaking
Some of you might be looking to improve your speaking skills for an exam. IELTS is one the most popular exams that’s used to measure English proficiency so getting a good score is a top priority for a lot of people.
British Council’s FutureLearn platform has a specific section devoted to the IELTS exam, where you’ll be presented with tips on how best to ace the speaking section, as well as improve your overall communication skills. Plus, you’ll only have to commit three hours a week for three weeks.
Although the course isn’t running right now, you can sign up for it using your email address and you’ll be informed when it begins again.
You won’t become a fluent English speaker in a day. It’s a long process, which will require a lot of hard work and dedication on your part.
But if you keep practicing and push yourself to go beyond your limits, you’ll soon get there.
These courses are a great place to start!
Archita Mittra is a freelance writer, journalist, editor and educator. Feel free to check out her blog or contact her for freelancing/educational inquiries.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.