English is considered a global language and is used for all official communication purposes around the world. With over, one-quarter of the world speaking English, you don’t have to search very far to find scores of resources and opportunity to practice the language. However, the vast vocabulary and strange ways of spelling can even baffle those whose primary language is English.
English fluency seems unattainable to almost everyone brand-new to the language. You pierce down your grammar rules and vocabulary. Yet, you are unable to express coherently when a bank teller asks you simple questions regarding your account or when a waiter asks you whether you want any of the daily special items.
However, there is no need to worry. Fluency is very much attainable. What’s important is how you approach it. The key point is to realise that even though there is no quick solution to this problem, there is a list of steps that you can take to achieve the result that you want.
Gather Information Regarding Basic English Skills and become proficient in the language and speak fluently with confidence. Try the Tips over here and Improve your English Writing and Speaking Skills.
Steps to follow that will help you achieve fluency:
1. Begin with the basics
What many English learners don’t understand about speaking English is that you don’t have to know everything perfectly in order to articulate your ideas clearly and confidently. Instead, learners strive for perfection, which is paralysing.
The Pareto principle is a secret used by individuals who want to learn English. It is a rule that can be applied in many areas of life, including learning. The Pareto principle says that twenty per cent of the input you project is eighty per cent of the output, in other words, when it comes to English, by learning one-fifth of the most common words, you will be able to understand four-fifth of the spoken and written English, including tricky topics.
This is all to state that you don’t have to remember everything in order to converse in fluent English. Start by learning the most common words, and you will be well on your way to fluency.
2. Focus on English eloquence, not only grammar
When you talk in English, how often do you stop? The more you stop, the less comfortable you become. Every time you speak in English, challenge yourself to speak without stopping or stammering the entire time. This might mean that your sentence would be grammatically imperfect, and that is normal. If you concentrate on speaking fluently instead of correctly, you will still be understood, and you will also sound better. You can fill in the exact grammar and rules as you learn better.
3. Read in English
If you want to enhance your speaking skills, you have to start reading. It’s impossible to fix one area of a language, like speaking, if you don’t practice and improve other areas simultaneously.
Reading helps to improve your speaking abilities because it makes your brain work. When you read, you presumably listen to your head or inner voice pronouncing the words. Besides that, you are also able to learn new words in context that you can use later in your conversations.
Finally, when you read newspapers, books, magazines, or poetry, you will mostly have contact with correct and well structured English. The more you read, the fast your brain will start recognising patterns and groups of words that normally go together. When those patterns already exist in your head, you can use them in your conversations without hesitation.
Utilise what you just read
When you have become more informed of words, noting those words down is the next important step to increase your knowledge of words, because that is how you will discover most of the words you should be learning. It is also the best way to check on what you have already learned. When you come across a term you have newly studied, and you understand it, that proves you have learned its meaning.
What should you read?
Whatever interests you, whatever makes you want to read. If you like games, read the sports page of the newspaper and magazines or read books about your favourite athlete. If you are interested in cooking, then read autobiographies of famous Chefs, and don’t just look at the photographs.
Often people with very weak vocabularies don’t enjoy reading at all. It’s more of a burden for them than a pleasure because they don’t know many of the words. If you too feel that way about reading, attempt reading easier things like newspapers or simply journals. There is no point in trying to reach something you are simply not able to understand or are not engaged in.
The important idea is to find things to read, you can enjoy and to read as often and as much as possible with the idea of learning new words always and mind. Reading has multiple benefits, like:
- It enhances your vocabulary: Vocabulary is one of the major causes because of which you cannot attain enough confidence to understand and speak English. Reading at least ten pages a day will help you build a better vocabulary as well as help you learn words you use in your daily life. Remember, a human brain can store only the fact that it wants to and forget the rest. So, how to make your learning word stay in your head, at least once, right it and apply those words with an interesting story that is imagined and made just by you.
- Develops an understanding of the language : When you read more, you understand more, and thus, you connect more. From your childhood, you have an excellent understanding of your mother tongue because you have the habit of reading, speaking, and listening to it everywhere around you. English wouldn’t be a problem if you did the same with it too!
- Enriches your pronunciation: When you read, and there is a need to look up the meaning of a word, go for an IPA encyclopaedia. The international phonetic alphabet (IPA) can assist you in learning how to say words that you see in writing but don’t know how to say. It is a chart where all the sounds that exist in all languages in the world are included. Needless to say, you only have to learn the sounds of English, but once you do that, you will be able to pronounce every phonetic transcript you come across, without hesitation.
4. Be aware of your expressions
Many people are offended when they are told that they have small vocabularies. They try to justify themselves by saying that they read all the time. This confirms that reading alone may not be sufficient to make you learn new words. When we read a novel, there is usually a strong urge to get on with the story and skip over unfamiliar or perhaps vaguely known words. When a word is unknown to you, you have to be especially aware of the words that seem familiar to you to relate to the context.
Instead of dodging these words, you will need to take a more approaching look at them. First, try to guess the word meaning from its context. Then, if you have a dictionary on hand, look up the words meaning immediately. This may slow down your reading, but your improved understanding of each new word will eventually speed your learning of other words.
5. Use dictionaries
Most people know how to utilise a dictionary to look up the meaning of words. There are some specific pointers on how to do this as a part of your vocabulary building program, and they are:
Have your dictionary nearby
Keep it where usually do your reading at your place. You are more expected to use it if you do not have to go and get it from another room or somewhere far away. At work, there may be better dictionaries available for your use. At home, most of us do not have a prominent, unabridged dictionary. However, one of the smaller collegiate ones would be fine to start with.
Circle the words you lookup
After you have done this for some time, your eyes will naturally move to the words you have circled whenever you flip through your dictionary. This will give you a glance of the word and help you remember better.
Read the complete entry for the expression you look up
Remember, words can have more than one application, and the meaning you need for the word you are looking up may not be the first one given in your dictionary. Even if it is, the other definitions of the word will help you understand the different ways the word is used. Also, the history of the word, usually given near the beginning of the entry, can often give you a fascinating picture of the way the word has developed its modern meaning. This will add to the pleasure of discovering the word as well as help you remember it.
6. Pay attention to stressed sounds
English uses stresses in words and sentences, which means when you speak English, you will need to stress or emphasise certain words and syllables to give the words and sentences different meanings.
Listen to their native speakers place their faces when they speak, try to repeat it, in the same way, to improve English in your speech. This won’t only help you deliver English well, and it might even reduce misunderstandings. Learn to hear and spot the difference on your own. Mastering stressed sound is essential to make yourself understood. If you can say what you intend in a precise, distinct, and concrete way, you can succeed in any job interview, meeting, or presentation.
Sometimes, placing the stress on the incorrect syllable changes the word. Free example, the word address has two separate meanings based on the emphasis of syllables. One refers to the physical location where someone lives and the other means to speak to a group of people formally.
7. Think in English
The difficult factor about English speaking is not only the language itself but also how you think of it.
If you think about your primary language and then try to speak in English, you will always have to translate between languages. The translation isn’t the easiest thing to do! Even individuals who are fluent in two or more languages have trouble switching between languages. Therefore, the solution to this is to imagine in English.
You can do this wherever, whenever. Try to use English when you recall your day, or when you are deciding what food you should order for your family. Even seek to use an English to English dictionary to look up words. You will notice that when you think in English, it’s easier for you to speak in English.
8. Talk to yourself
Whenever you are at home or somewhere alone, you can improve your English by speaking to yourself. If you are already thinking in English, try speaking your thoughts out loud. Even if you don’t have anyone to help you, you are practising. Just the act of speaking out loud helps you become more comfortable speaking English.
9. Use a mirror
Whenever you can, take some time out of your busy day to stand in front of the mirror and talk. Choose a topic, set a timer for a couple of minutes, and just speak. The point of this exercise is to observe your mouth, face, and body language as you speak. It also makes you feel like you are talking to someone. Therefore, you can pretend you are having a conversation with someone.
Talk for the entire time and don’t halt. If you get stuck on a term you don’t know, try expressing your thought differently. You can look up how to say that word after the three minutes end. This will positively help you find out what kind of words you have trouble with.
10. Take online speaking and spoken English courses
You might not have a speaking partner, but you have free online speaking courses available right in front of you.
Learning online is becoming more and more widespread. Besides, the offer is so huge that many times the price is zero. There are thousands of online courses that can help you improve your English speaking skills.
11. Learn exceptions
If you have been learning English for a while, you probably know English is full of exceptions to its rules. A lot of learners get confused here, but you can actually use exceptions to speak more fluently.
It would be difficult to learn all the exclusions of the language, but you can focus on groups of exceptions and learn one or two groups every week. The next step in this is to use the exceptions you have learnt. To do this, you have to use those words as much as possible in your conversation, and soon they will be so common for you that you will just use them casually.
Some instances of exceptions or irregularities you can learn are irregular verbs, irregular plurals, exception and pronunciations, the ‘ I before e except after c’ rule, and many more.
12. Be creative
Improve your English speaking skills can be fun if you have a bit of creativity. For example, find an interesting object and try to describe it in English. If you are just starting, you might use easy vocabulary and short sentences, but you will soon get better at it.
Something else you try is creative journaling in English. A lot of people assume that journaling is the same as keeping a diary, but it is not so. The sky is the limit, as long as the sky is in English.
Finally, try to make your own practice difficult. Have you ever been in a situation where you are trying to say something in English, but you got stuck because you couldn’t remember a word? Do that on purpose. Try to talk about something without a specific word. In other words, be as imaginative as you want and use English all the way.
13. Notice how you speak
Take some time to really noticed how you speak your native language. Notice the words and phrases you use most often. Learn how to say your most regularly used phrase and word in English. Knowing them in English will help you speak as well in English as you do in your native language.
If you are learning to speak English for a specific reason, like moving abroad, then you need to learn their way of speaking. Before you go to any place where you have to speak in English, you should practice what you have to say. If you are preparing to go to a restaurant, prepare conversations and answers to the questions the waiter could ask you.
You can plan specific situations by taking courses that focus on the ins and outs of the situations in English. There are different places that help you master business calls in English or job interviews, so that you feel confident and prepared.
14. Study and review regularly
Once you start to look up words, and you know which ones to study, vocabulary building is simply a matter of studying the words regularly until you fix them in your memory. This is rightly done by setting aside a specific amount of time each day for vocabulary learning. During that period, you can look up new words you have recorded during the day and analyse old words and phrases you had learned previously.
Set a goal for the number of expressions you would like to learn, and by what date. A daily review will bring better results than weekly or monthly practice. However, if a weekly practice is all the time you have to spare, begin with that.
In order to review words adequately, all the information of a word should be kept in one place, like in a notebook or index card. Index cards are useful because the words can be placed in alphabetical order, which makes them easy to find when reviewing. You should try to be methodical about studying and should review each word at least once every couple of weeks. Don’t throw the cards away. You can have a great feeling of accomplishment by looking at the growing stock of words you have learnt.
15. Other vocabulary building materials
The first advantage of vocabulary building materials is that they present you with words generally considered important to know, thus saving your time. Another benefit of many of these books is that they use several new words in different sentences so that you can see the difference in the usage of one particular word. These books also have exercises that test what you have learned, which gives you a clear sense of progress.
The major disadvantage of many of such vocabulary building books is that the words in them may sometimes be too difficult for a person who just started to learn English. Such a person would have a tough time learning these words and could quickly become discouraged. It is suggested that you go through the materials before buying. If most of the sentences and words are not familiar to you, then don’t buy it.
Many books approach vocabulary building by teaching you word parts, like prefixes, suffixes, and roots, and showing you how these parts can go together to form other words. The important thing is to keep in mind is that these materials are not a complete substitute for all the processes mentioned above. One book will not provide you with all the words you want to know. Furthermore, you are establishing a lifetime interest by strengthening your vocabulary, hence use these materials only to speed up the process.
Perhaps the most important factor in successful vocabulary building training is motivation. It will be very stressful for you to study words and sentences, month after month, without the strong feeling that it is worth doing. You have to remember that a larger vocabulary will help you and school or in jobs and that it can lead to a more exciting and fulfilling life.
Confidence is something that comes simultaneously with vigorous practice, hard work, and dedication, and English is no exception.
Before anything, correct your grammar. If you are a freshman, it is recommended to go through it once to understand the basic rules of grammar. Try forming sentences out of your daily life. Speak out what you said in your native language, in English and listen to it carefully. Make the necessary changes if you did not say it correctly. You can find online videos that will help you deal with basic grammar.
Don’t delay your learning by saying you have no one to talk to in English. Don’t worry about speaking incorrectly, and gradually you will notice a change in your fluency. You will feel the urge to speak in front of an audience, and that is when you will know that you are ready to go out and represent.
Spoken English is not just about correct grammar, elite vocabulary, and Stylish sentences. It is more about confidence, integrity, and poise. So, do not back up from speaking your mind just because you are not good at it. People will laugh and then forget. Your job is to accept yourself the way you are and work hard for self-improvement.
18. English tongue-twisters
Tongue-twisters are a series of words that are difficult to say quickly. For example,’ the thirty-three thieves thought that they thrilled The Throne throughout Thursday’. Word games like this will help you find the right placement of your mouth and tongue, and can also help your pronunciation.
19. Repeat what you learned
Following along with TV shows, videos or other natural English speeches is a great way to improve your speaking power. Find the short clip that you like, or use words that you would use in real life, and recite it line by line. Try to match the tone, pace, and even the accent if possible. It doesn’t matter if you miss a couple of words, the important thing is to keep talking. Try to sound just like a native speaker.
20. Learn phrases
Another good idea to improve English is to learn what phrases and not just words. You might be using accurate grammar and vocabulary, but it still not how native speakers would say it. For instance, you could say ” How do you feel today?” but a native speaker what say ” How’re you doing?” instead. Phrases and expressions can help sound more natural when you speak.
Although this is a very basic learning method in traditional English classrooms, it is not very effective. Studying one word and its translation at a time is boring. When words aren’t embedded in context, it makes it that much more difficult for your brain to tie them together and recall when needed. The reason why speaking in English is difficult for students is that they have to do a lot of thinking in order to combine words into meaningful and grammatically correct clauses.
Studying phrases gives you the context automatically and makes it easier for them to put sentences together when the situation asks for it.
21. Sing along to English songs
Singing along your favourite English song will help you become more fluent. This is a language learning method backed up with scientific reasoning.
22. Learn word forms
Some practice occurs before you even open your mouth. Make expressing easier by learning the different forms of any words you learn. You should do this when you are learning new vocabulary. For example, if you just learned the word ‘write’, you should also learn some other forms of the same word as ‘ wrote’ and ‘written’.
Knowing the correct way to use the word in any kind of sentence is important. This knowledge will help you while speaking. When you stop and think of different words, you will know exactly when you need to use the word while speaking.
23. Ease up on your practice
You can be your best assistant or your worst enemy when learning to speak fluently. Everyone knows it is hard, but you should try to not worry about how you sound when you speak. If you get stuck or confused, just take a big breath and start over. Speak slower if you have to, and take your time to pause and think about your next sentence. Do everything that it takes to become more comfortable while speaking.
24. Immerse yourself in the language
It’s undeniable that there is no better way to learn English than to spend time or live in an English speaking country. If travelling to a country like Australia, the UK, Canada, or the US isn’t possible at the moment, you can still immerse yourself in the language by observing all that you can in English.
One route to do this is by following TV shows, songs, books, audio books, movies, recipes and podcasts, literally anything that is in English. Change of the ways you practice English to truly much yourself in the language without travelling abroad. When you eventually visit an English speaking country, you will be amazed at how much background knowledge you have about not just the language, but the culture too.
25. Overlooking the power of listening
When you think about speaking fluent English, you often underestimate the importance of listening. However, listening is our most used communication skill. Studies have shown that when it comes to communication, we spend around nine per cent of the time writing, sixteen per cent of the time reading, thirty per cent of the time speaking, and forty-five per cent of the time listening. This is why, in order to become fluent, you must be an effective listener.
Watch videos with subtitles
Platforms nowadays give us a great opportunity to watch almost any video with subtitles. They serve you really well during the part which you don’t understand.
Make a habit of listening to English
The deeper you immerse yourself in English, the more proficient you will become. This is the reason why you should make a habit of listening to as much English audio as possible. Turn on the radio or download a podcast on a topic that interests you and listen to them when you are travelling, walking, or exercising.
26. Accept your mistakes
More than half of the planet speaks more than one language. That means that monolingualism is a culture, not a biological consequence. So when adults fail at language learning, it is not because they don’t have the right genes, it means there is a fault in the preparation process.
Traditional English teachers treat language learning, just like any other academic subject. The contrasts between your native language and English, which is your target language are presented as vocabulary and grammar rules to memorise. The problem is that you can never truly ‘learn’ or ‘memorise’ a language; you get used to it.
Don’t worry about upsetting English speakers, when you speak to them in their own language. One of the numerous useful things you can do in the initial stages is not to try to get everything perfect, but to embrace your mistakes.
27. Use English registers
A register is a set of different words and phrases that you use depending on the situation you find yourself in. For instance, the way you speak English to a friend is different from the way you would speak to a child, and that would be different from the English you word speak in a business gathering. In order to develop your speaking, you need to switch effortlessly between all registers of English. This means you should understand what register of English to use with your friends, at work and the people you meet for the first time.
28. Narrate real-life incidents
An entertaining way to test how well your English fluency has developed is to choose a story that you know really well and tell it in English. Remember to think in English as you are telling the story. Focus on speaking fluently instead of accurately. Say every sentence out loud to yourself. Even if you have nobody to communicate to in English, you can still develop confidence and master fluency on your own time with yourself.
You can describe what you see when you are outside. If you are walking to the grocery store for commuting to work, try to describe what you see. It will be like having a guided tour of your own surroundings, with you as the narrator. You don’t have to speak out loud if you don’t want to. Do it in your head and listen to your inner voice. The more you practice this, the easier it will be to have a real conversation with other people. It also helps you get into the practice of thinking in English.
Where should you start?
The reason why you want to learn English
Before you begin to study English, ask yourself “why you want to learn English” and “why do you want to speak more fluently?” is it because you want to, you or someone else wants you to? Like every resolution in life, studying English must be something you want to do.
Make a schedule
How long do you need to study to achieve your goals? This answer is different for every person. The important thing is to be realistic. If you work sixty hours per week, don’t plan on spending another forty hours a week studying English. Start slow, but complete your work regularly. Use material that is tricky and challenging, but not difficult. Find out what works the best for you. After you have studied for a certain amount of time, adjust your study schedule so that it is more efficient.
How is fluency measured?
There are many ways to categorise someone’s English speaking skills, but the concept of fluency is hard to define. What does the word “fluent” actually mean? This term has come to mean ” native level proficient”, with no area between the beginner and the master.
A famous chain of English schools in Italy says that fluency actually refers to how “smoothly” and ” efficiently” and English speakers can speak on a range of topics related to real life. While fluency may denote a standard of proficiency, it does not imply accuracy, the ability to produce grammatically correct sentences, nor does it define someone’s grammatical range.
The European Framework of Reference for languages has divided proficiency into six levels:
A1: Capabilities range include a basic introduction and answering questions about personal details provided the listeners speak slowly and are willing to co-operate.
A2: Can express in simple terms aspects of their past, environment, matters related to their immediate needs, and perform tasks requiring fundamental exchanges of data.
B1: Can deal with most everyday life situations in the country where the language is spoken. Can describe events, dreams, and ambitions and give brief reasons for opinions and goals.
B2: Can understand the theme of complex texts on both concrete and abstract topics and will have achieved the degree of fluency, which makes interaction with native English speakers possible.
C1: Can understand a broad range of longer texts and recognise subtitles and implicit meaning; producing clear, well structured, and detailed text on complex subjects, and showing control use of organisational patterns.
C2: Can understand practically everything heard or read, expressing themselves spontaneously, very fluently, and precisely while differentiating final shares of meaning even in highly complex situations.
The Bottom Line
While there are no magic shortcuts to achieving fluency in English, the larger your vocabulary becomes, the easier it will be to connect to new words with words you already know. To keep up the motivation and consistency and let this guide serve you in achieving your desired results.
As English is a universal language and it is an age of globalisation, you should have a good command of this language. Today everybody is trying hard to fulfil the dream of having a career. As English is playing a strong role in professional career all over the world, take a decisive step towards it.