I can read/write English well but a problem arises when speaking and listening. I am not a native English speaker. I know English; my vocabulary is strong enough to speak but I get stuck when speaking to someone in English. What is a way to improve this?

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    Hi and welcome to Language Learning Stack Exchange. Could you please add a few more details? For example, what have you tried so far to improve your conversation skills? What sort of problems do you experience? (Understanding other speakers, finding the right words, using appropriate grammar, something else?)
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 11:35
  • For example I am talking to my friend or someone in English sometime I forget how to express what I want to say. Sometimes I think in my own language(urdu) and then translate it into English. Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 4:53
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    Could you please edit your answer to add that information? Comments may get deleted.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 11:11

3 Answers 3


Just from reading the text of your question, I think you probably could learn a lot more from reading. I.e. you have a few minor errors which, although they don't hinder comprehension, are the sorts a native speaker would not make, and that would immediately peg you as a non-native speaker:

  • "but the problem arises" (you cannot omit the article "the" here)
  • "I am not native English" (you must say "I am not Native at English" or probably even better "I am not a native speaker of English".)
  • "What is a better way..." (another missing article!)

That said, if you still can read and write more easily than you can speak, you would do well to focus on your speaking and listening.

There is a ton of audio and video content available in English. I don't know how much you already listen to, but if you're at the level where your listening comprehension is good enough to listen to stuff, I'd try to watch or listen to things every day. Pick stuff based on your interests, with a particular focus on topics that you want to connect with other English speakers about; it will be easier to follow something you are interested in, and the vocabulary you learn will be more useful to you this way.

You might also want to try a tool like Clozemaster, if it's available from Urdu or from any other language you are fluent in, to get exposure to sentences and vocabulary. I have found Clozemaster super useful for "passively" correcting my grammar just by exposing me to a lot of sentences, while it also helps to build vocabulary in a "word recall" context, i.e. I have to think up a word to fill in a gap in a sentence, and this is the context in which I am typically trying to recall words when speaking. So, even though it only has one main exercise type, I have found it surprisingly helpful for improving my speaking. So you might find that using it addresses two of your weak points at once!

The best thing though, is for you to speak with native speakers. If you have access to a group setting where you are surrounded by native speakers, that's great. One-on-one is okay. You can also do this online if you don't have access to any native speakers locally, hire a tutor, or find a language exchange (might be tough as far more Urdu speakers want to learn English than vice versa.) I would avoid settings though (like a classroom) in which you are one of many learners and there is only one or perhaps two native speakers.

And then, ask the native speaker(s) to correct you! This is where you will really start to learn to sound more like a native speaker.

Lastly I want to talk about phonology. English phonology is superficially close enough to Urdu that you can get away with just pronouncing a lot of sounds the way you do in your language, but you will gain a lot (and sound much more natural to English speakers) if you do more work to really master English phonology. It's a bit different, too, if you're learning American English vs. British English, or some other form of English. Pick a target dialect based on where you think you will be or who you want to interact with, and then focus on really mastering the sounds.

Don't give up improving your pronunciation just when you reach the point that you are able to communicate. Keep trying to get better at it.

You may find that if you master the phonology, it improves your listening comprehension which improves your ability to pick up vocabulary. I have certainly found this to be the case in languages (like Russian) that have tricky pronunciation. English has a lot of vowel sounds in particular, and the consonants also do not correspond exactly to the consonants in Urdu even if a lot of them are close-ish. Understanding exactly how they are different will help you a lot.

Good luck! You seem highly motivated, which is going to make it a lot easier!


Speaking and listening skills are two of the most difficult skills to master as a language learner, especially if your goal is to sound as fluent and natural as possible. However it is not impossible and there are a couple of tips that I have to help you master this skill.

Speak as much as possible

While this sounds counterintuitive practice truly helps even if you are making a lot of mistakes. Your mouth needs to develop the muscle memory to form the sounds for the words you are trying to produce. So practice even if you are speaking to yourself.

Immersion in the language

Surround yourself with English speaking content. Music, movies, commercials, podcasts, etcetera. All of these things should be utilized as much as possible. You are training your ear to hear these sounds which will help when you try to speak. This also helps with grasping colloquial language.

Language learning is a long and challenging process I wish you luck!

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    Welcome to Language Learning!
    – fi12
    Commented Sep 6, 2021 at 21:02

I have this problem too. Schools in China focus on reading, writing and grammar because they're easier to teach. It's like I know what I want to say but the words don't match my thoughts.

I realized that I had all this dead time in the day when I was washing the dishes or showering etc. I'd just talk to myself in English, and because I have a high level I could hear the mistakes as I was making them. It wasn't anything complicated. On my way to work, I'd describe what was happening in front of me, or the plot of a tv show I watched the night before on Netflix. People in the other cars just think you're talking on a hands-free phone!

Obviously, the best thing to do is hire an English teacher to act as a speaking partner, but not all of us can afford to do that, so for now I use my 'crazy-person' method, and it works.

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