Why Recording Yourself Talking Can Help You Learn English

Person using smartphone at ALCC American Language in New York CityLearning a new language is no easy task. A teacher or partner to practice with can help keep you on track, but what about when you’re at home and need some extra practice? Once you leave the classroom, it can be hard to tell if you’re pronouncing certain words or phrases correctly. That’s where practicing with recording can come in handy.

Why Hearing Yourself Speak Is Such a Great Tool for Practicing English

If you aren’t able to make it to your lessons, or if you just want to freshen your skills, recording yourself while you speak can help you to learn English. Once you get past the hurdle of reading English, the next step is all about the delivery: speaking. While recordings are a simple tool that can help you hone in on a better speaking delivery, they’re often underused. Why is that? Well, when was the last time you heard yourself on a voicemail? It probably sounded funny to you, right? We don’t always like hearing recordings of ourselves, and fair warning: you’re probably going to sound even funnier while trying to speak English. But, once you get past the awkwardness of hearing your voice, a regular assessment of your skills can help you find moments where you may be struggling. Your recording doesn’t need to be long—try talking for 30 seconds about a topic that you’re comfortable with. Once you’re done, go back and listen to your recording regularly. It can give you an honest look at how well you’re doing and where you need to improve.

Don’t Forget to Try Video Recordings

Recording yourself speaking English can help you hear your mistakes, but using additional video recordings can help you see where you may need some help, too. Have a classmate or friend videotape you practicing English. It’s more than likely that someone you know has a smartphone they can use to record you. When you go back and watch your recording, are there moments where your body language shows a stopping point in your speech? Did you hesitate or make a frustrated face? Did you use your hands to try to describe something instead of using your mouth? Also, look for moments when you use filler words such as “umm” or “like.”

By reviewing your video, you can see points of speech that you may need to work harder on. For instance, you may think that you’re doing really well with certain vocabulary words only to realize it took you a long time to remember them while on video—a couple of seconds on video can seem a lot longer than you realize.

Learn From Your Mistakes, and Celebrate Your Successes!

Once you’ve got your audio or video recording, the next step may be the hardest part: watching (or listening to) it on a regular basis. Watching ourselves make mistakes while trying to learn English can sometimes be frustrating, but the only way you’re going to be able to improve your weaknesses is if you examine every opportunity for improvement. Maybe you thought your pronunciation was much better than it actually is. Or, perhaps you’re pausing on certain words or parts of a sentence. A recording will tell you the honest truth of how you’re doing. Just remember not to get discouraged. Focus on the areas you need to improve and make them part of your daily goals.

Just as a recording can show you your weaknesses, it also highlights your strengths! Give yourself a high-five for finishing a whole sentence that may have stopped you once before. Be proud of yourself when you see or hear yourself speaking vocabulary words correctly. These successes can be your go-to conversation starters when you’re practicing chatting with your friends or co-workers. Use those successes to motivate you every day while you’re trying to learn English.

Keep a Journal of Your Notes

You may already have a language journal with words or phrases that are confusing. Make one section just about your recordings and write down your weaknesses and strengths. Make sure you’re writing in English in this journal, too. Your entries don’t need to be fancy. Just make sure you write down moments where you stopped in your speech. After a few weeks, go back and look at your previous notes. Have you improved since then? By keeping notes from your recordings, you’ll have a record of all the goals you’ve met and surpassed.

Try recording yourself in all parts of your life—at home, in the subway, while on a walk. That’s one of the best parts of it—it’s free, and you can do it anywhere! Make it a regular habit, and go back to it at any time to practice. Before long, you’ll be surprised at how far you’ve grown. So the next time you’ve run out of new ways to get better at learning English, try a recording!

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