When people ask about English language ability, what is their first question? Usually, they ask this. “Can you speak English?” The total number of native English speakers in the world today is around 375,000,000 people. And about a billion people are learning English. The Economist, a news magazine, said this amazing thing about the future of English. By 2050, half the people in the world will have some degree of English skills. But the point is this. When most people think about foreign language ability, they think about speaking.
Of course, speaking is important. Speaking and listening are the most basic language skills. For one thing, speaking and listening came first. That is, languages were spoken long before they were written and read. Moreover, we value speaking for many reasons. We enjoy talking to our friends and family members. We need speaking for daily life and survival, and we need speaking for doing business, selling, buying, and for telling others important information. If you can speak a foreign language, it is a clear measure that you have a special skill.
There are many ways to improve your speaking skills. You can find a conversation partner. You can practice English conversations from a text with a partner or by yourself. Each day you can learn a new expression, and you can practice it seven times with seven different people. You can listen to a story and repeat it line by line. You can learn a song and sing it out loud. If people see you walking down the street while singing, they may think you are strange. But your English speaking will improve!
These are all good ways to improve your speaking. But many people don’t know a great secret for improving speaking. The secret is this. Reading a lot is a great way to become a better speaker. In fact, research shows that extensive reading is a great way to improve all your language skills.