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How can I improve my English conversation skills?

This article is by Deborah Noel.

There are a number of ways to help you feel more comfortable speaking English in conversational and informal settings.

Don't Be Shy

Get out and meet people. Speak in English to everyone you meet. Ontario is a huge multicultural province and a large number of residents were at one time Newcomers to Canada. Chances are they will be used to speaking to someone who is learning English and they might be patient with you because they have once experienced being misunderstood.

Find a Conversation Group

Some local groups have informal conversation classes where new immigrants come together to practise their English. These groups might come together at a local community centre, school, English as a Second Language class or at an immigrant service agency.

If you can't find one but know other newcomers who are interested, start one yourself at a local community centre or with a local immigrant service agency!

To find an immigrant service agency in your area, go to Services Near Me.

Watch Television

Watching television shows is useful for you to learn common language phrases and slang. One good idea is to watch children's shows. Sesame Street is probably the best. You will learn the basics of the English language and maybe a little bit of French also! This is a great chance to spend some quality time with your children and learn something valuable at the same time.

Read Aloud

Take the newspaper every day and read it aloud. It will give you a chance to feel comfortable speaking and get caught up on the news.

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There are a lot of Canadian born students learning other languages. It is a good idea to contact some of the colleges, universities or specialized language schools who may have students who want to practice. They speak your language and you speak English! Not a bad trade!

Being a newcomer to Canada is not easy. There are so many things to deal with - a new culture, finding a job, getting used to a new city. Learning English will seem often frustrating and difficult. It is important to be patient with others and, most especially, yourself.

Everyday, even though you may not notice it, you are getting better and better. Before you know it - you will be writing and speaking with an ease that you never thought possible. Below are some websites to help you along your way.

Contributed by Deborah Noel, a Toronto-based employment counsellor and facilitator with years of experience helping newcomers find work.

For More Information

  • ESL Search - A search tool that you can use to find ESL classes in your area. From the Ontario Immigration website.
  • College Language Training Programs - A list of colleges in Ontario that have English or French language training programs. From the Ontario Immigration website.
  • Local School Boards - A list of local school boards in Ontario. Produced by the Ontario Ministry of Education.
  • Learn Speak Live: English Classes - If you live in Toronto, Peel Region, Simcoe County or York Region, you can call Learn Speak Live for information about English classes in your area. Call 1-877-322-5277.
Last Updated: January 19, 2012
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