Five Learning Strategies for Advanced Students
As an advanced student, what are your goals for English? If your answers are, “I don’t want to forget what I’ve already learned” or “I just want to practice speaking,” then speak away!
But if your aim is to improve your speaking skills, you know that there’s a lot of work ahead of you.
At lower levels, speaking practice helps learners gain confidence. But you probably want to fine-tune your spoken English. What strategies, then, can advanced learners like yourself use to reach this goal?
1. Identify Role Models
First, think about what kind of advanced English you want to speak. An easy way to do this is to pick some “role models.” For example:
- If you want to sound more persuasive, watch TED talks.
- If you want to sound more humorous, find a comedian you like and watch their videos.
- If you want to sound more academic, listen to online university lectures and find a professor who speaks English the way you want to.
Be sure to observe the vocabulary, expressions, and sentence patterns your role models use to sound the way they do. Then try to use these next time you discuss topics you’re interested in.
2. Expand Your Range
Advanced learners should be able to talk about a wide range of topics. While you don’t need to be equally good at talking about every single thing, your fluency shouldn’t drop too much when talking about topics you are less familiar with.
So ask yourself, “What topics have I struggled with?” If you can’t think of any, ask yourself, “What subjects am I comfortable talking about?” Then, challenge yourself with different subjects.
An easy way to do this is to use our Daily News materials. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about, say, topics related to tech, you can read articles in our “Science & Technology” category and discuss them with a friend or tutor.
Then, once you feel comfortable discussing them, move on to another category. Repeat this process for all the remaining ones and soon, you’ll have the advanced vocabulary needed to talk about any topic that comes your way!
3. Think More Deeply
Sometimes higher-level students wonder how they can speak for longer durations. The key to this is realizing that speaking at great length doesn’t mean blabbering on and on. It requires having more complex thoughts.
Pearson’s Global Scale of English (GSE) recommends advanced students develop the ability to:
- “Speculate about the causes of an issue or problem”
- “Precisely express the potential consequences of actions or events”
- “Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of various options”
In other words, go deeper. Don’t just say that something happened. Try to explain why it happened, what results could come of it, and what can be done about it.
For example, even if you’re just talking about a lack of sleep, you can follow Pearson’s advice and try to:
- Guess what might be the reasons for your lack of sleep.
- Talk about the results of your lack of sleep.
- Suggest ways this can be solved, while thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of each solution.
In other words, don’t just stop at how much sleep you get every day. Expand!
4. Learn to Ask Questions
Advanced English conversation isn’t just about being able to have a conversation. It’s also about being able to lead a conversation.
As one of our tutors shared, “My advanced students rarely ask questions. They rely on me to come up with all the questions. At lower levels, this’s okay, but advanced students should understand that conversations are a two-way street.”
This view is supported by teaching frameworks. For example:
- Pearson’s Global Scale of English, which lists “Can ask detailed questions in discussions” as an advanced skill.
- The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) agrees, saying “Speakers at the Advanced level engage in conversation in a clearly participatory manner.”
In other words, you shouldn’t only be following the other person’s lead and answering their questions. You should also be asking your own questions.
So next time you have an English conversation, try to lead more and follow less.
5. Write More
According to the ACTFL, highly advanced students should be able to “speak succinctly. At this level, oral discourse typically resembles written discourse.” In other words, you want your spoken English to:
- Be short and to the point.
- Sound more like written English.
What does it mean for speaking to sound more like writing? Well, writing gives us more time to think about how we want to say something. We spend more time carefully choosing the right words and even changing our wording.
This process allows us to reach greater clarity in writing than we would in speaking. And the more we write, the more practice we get expressing ourselves clearly, which in turn helps us speak more succinctly.
Plus, it’s easier to get feedback from a friend or tutor on your writing. When listening to you speak in real time, they can at most point out mistakes.
But when you give them something you wrote, they’ll be able to identify unnecessary words, suggest clearer wording and smoother transitions, and pick up on other things that would be difficult to notice in speaking.
Simply put, write more to speak better!
Follow the strategies above and you’ll definitely be able to take your English to greater heights.
If you want feedback on your writing or speaking or practice discussing advanced topics, remember that our tutors are here for you 24/7. You also have the option of choosing tutors with the Advanced tag, who are better equipped to help higher-level students.
Your first lesson’s on us, so you’ve got nothing to lose!