Introduction

For an English learner, being able to speak fluently and confidently is the ultimate goal.


It may seem unattainable at times but with the right motivation and techniques to improve, anything is possible.


Did you know “One in four people are capable of speaking English with a satisfactory competence level. Wherever you might be in the world there’s a 25% chance you will find someone you can easily communicate in English with!” - Source


Considering the popularity of English, there is no substitute for being able to use your English skills as means of communication in real-life and nothing as rewarding.


According to ETProfessional, The term ‘fluency’ refers to the ability one has to speak smoothly and freely without the need to pause and think about the grammar, vocabulary or pronunciation.


You might have spent years learning English, but are you able to speak fluently?

 

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Reasons why you are not fluent in English

  • You’re not getting enough output
    Most learners spend the majority of their time reading or listening to English material, but they never get the opportunity to speak English.
    • If you have a group class once a week, most of the time is spent learning grammar and doing individual exercises, and you lack the opportunity to use your speaking skills.
  • You don’t have enough confidence to speak. Being shy to speak and scared of mistakes  is a common factor that hinders students from progressing.
  • You’re too impatient. When learning a new language you might want to reach fluency almost immediately - this doesn’t happen overnight.

Advice to improve your English fluency

"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."

- Benjamin Franklin

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  • Take the bull by the horns

 

Don’t be afraid to jump into the deep end.


To improve to the best possible level you have to stick to the commitment that you made and “live the language”.  

 

Immerse yourself as much as you can by means of listening to English songs, watching movies, listening to podcasts or watching reality shows. The more exposure you're able to give yourself to the language, the more comfortable you will be.


Here are some methods you can use to your advantage to help you on your journey to fluency:

  • Change the language of the Netflix series or documentary that you’re watching.

If you want to improve your fluency, you need to hear how other people speak to be able to imitate them. 


This will allow you to learn common phrases and vocabulary that people use during regular day-to-day conversations.

  • Journal in English

You can also improve your fluency by writing in English everyday. 


Writing about your feelings and daily life events in another language teach you how to express yourself in the target language making it more emotive.


Emotive language is described as ”word choice that is used to evoke emotion.”

This means that you’ll be moving away from only using English in a formal, academic sense which can be a hindrance when trying to be more fluent in daily life.

 

  • Stop thinking of yourself as the “English student”. 

Once you change your mindset and see yourself as someone that speaks English, you will become more confident in your language abilities. The student has to become the master at some stage.

 

  • Use what you learn or lose it.

Sometimes we learn new phrases or vocabulary but we never use it. 


This is the quickest way to forget what you have learnt. When you learn something new, use it as often as possible once you have learnt it, you will have a better chance of remembering the word or phrase.

 

  • Narrate your daily tasks

From my personal experience, this was a method that helped improve my fluency and remember vocabulary for everyday things that I might normally forget.


When you go about your daily tasks, simply narrate what you are doing, out loud. 

One of my favourite language teachers encouraged us to pretend that we were on a cooking show while we were making dinner. So while you’re cooking you explain every single thing that you’re doing. 


Example: “ Tonight I’m making my famous all in one pasta dish. First you need to boil the pasta for 5 minutes. Then cut up one onion and fry it in a saucepan with oil and one clove of garlic.”  

From this one sentence, vocabulary like “clove of garlic” and “boli for 5 minutes” are phrases that you might have learnt in your beginner English textbook but the opportunity to use it might never have come.


Side note: It might be best to do this activity when you’re alone. You don’t want people thinking you’re crazy for talking to yourself.

  • Grammar is important but it is not everything. 


One of the hardest things to master in a new language is the grammar. But if you wait until it’s perfected to speak, you will never speak! As long as you understand the basics, try to speak as much as possible. Don’t worry about making mistakes or feeling embarrassed while you’re speaking. As the Korean Actress Jennifer Lim said “Mistakes are proof that you are trying.” 

  • Start singing - Even though you don’t have the lead role at the opera, sing!
    • Using music to improve fluency is not only fun but it is also an effective method.
    • You’ll remember new vocabulary better because lyrics to a catchy song are not easily forgotten.
      This is great pronunciation practice. When you’re singing songs, you imitate the pronunciation of the artists so you’re learning to speak better.
    • There is a lot of value in understanding the lyrics of a song. Paying attention to the meaning of the lyrics is when the song starts communicating with you and you can understand different words in a different context.

When using music to improve your fluency, it is important to pick songs that you enjoy listening to, or it will  become a laborious task, instead of a fun way of expressing yourself in a new language.

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Improving fluency isn't all about speaking - you've got to listen too!

"We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less."

-Diogenes

As much as your focus might be to improve your speaking fluency, pronunciation or your speed, your efforts to understand other people is just as important.


Language learners often have trouble understanding when people speak back to them because of different accents. 


Familiarise yourself with English media from different countries to understand the different accents and colloquialisms. 

 

If you don’t pay attention to improving your listening skills, it could lead to quite a few uncomfortable situations like the one below tweeted by Heather Reid: 

 

 

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  • Make sure that you always have English listening material on your phone.

Listen to English podcasts, news broadcasts or English music on your phone no matter where you are. This is especially useful while you’re driving or on the train commuting to work.

 

  • Subscribe to Entertaining videos online

Youtube has a lot of English content, which is entertaining as well as addictive, so improving your listening skills does not have to be boring.


Subscribe to channels that interest you. If you love cooking shows or DIY videos, those channels will help you improve your listening skills while also keeping you up to date with your hobbies.

  • Who said Binge watching was bad for you?

With Netflix being so accessible, there are a plethora of American and British TV shows and movies at your fingertips. 


Spend your free time catching up on the latest movies while also improving your listening skills.

 

Don't be afraid of feedback

 “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”
– Bill Gates

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Get feedback from native speakers to help you improve

  • Signing up for a feedback service online is a great way to get a new perspective on your speaking.
  • Join a local or online speaking class - This will give you an opportunity to network and meet people who are also trying to improve their language skills. It is also a way to stay motivated by knowing that you’re not alone on your journey.
  • Try to become friends / coffee buddies with a native speaker. You don’t have to become best friends, but having a native speaker as a friend that you can meet up with is a great way to improve your English fluency. A native speaker won't be offended if you ask for feedback, they would be happy to help someone learn their language.

 

Record yourself.

  • Like most people, you probably hate the sound of your own voice on a recording but this is a great way to improve. Record yourself reading poems or excerpts from your favourite books.
  • Listening to these recordings will give you a clear understanding of which words need better pronunciation. Think of it this way - if you’re unable to understand yourself on a recording, how do you expect other people to understand you?

Our recommended sources to help you improve

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Loecsen: https://www.loecsen.com/en/learn-english#/en/Conversation
To practice your English speaking with this tool, simply start a new quiz. Here you can from a list of phrases and words, which you can listen to and then repeat.


The English Speaking Practice App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.talkenglish.practice&hl=en_US
This app gives you the opportunity to hear basic conversations in English and then you’ll have to take a quiz to test your comprehension. You can also use the “record” function to play the part of someone in the conversation and then listen to your recording.


Hello Talk: https://www.hellotalk.com/?lang=en
This is described as the ultimate language exchange. You’ll get to improve your language by speaking and chatting to native speakers around the world.


Talk English: https://www.talkenglish.com/

This app comes with many lesson sets of listening and speaking to help you improve your English.

 

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Summary

There isn’t one easy way to improve your English speaking skills and guarantee your fluency. It is important to have a combination of tools and techniques to help you practice your speaking.

 

Try our suggestions above and assess which of these help you with your pronunciation and confidence.

 

Different methods and learning styles work for different people so focus on methods that work for you.

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