"How can I learn to speak English more fluently"?
"How you can speak English more like a native speaker?"
These are questions that a lot of people have been asking me recently, so I'm really excited to get into some tips and techniques on how you can improve your English speaking. I really hope you'll find them useful.
There are three aspects to gaining fluency in English.
1. The physical aspect - getting your mouth around English.
It's easy to be able to understand what people are saying, but actually speaking yourself is a very different thing. It's a skill that you need to practice. You can't just listen to a lot of English and read a lot of English, you actually need to get your mouth around speaking English as well.
One thing that you can do is to practise speaking English on your own at home, and it's quite easy to do this. You can find a text in English, let's say online, and you can practise reading out loud. One thing that I like to do is to record myself speaking in a foreign language. This actually gets you used to the mechanics of speaking English.
When I was learning Spanish, it was really hard to actually get my mouth around all of the different words, but the more you actually practise speaking out loud, the easier it will be and the more confident you will be. You can play the recording back to a friend or yourself or you can find a teacher to listen to the recording and to give you some tips, and to try to tell you where you can improve. But just doing this practise will make you more confident.
You can also practice shadowing, which means that you find a video or an audio file in English and you repeat after the native speaker, you practice following along, speaking out loud in English.
Yyou can do this with video of a speech, TV series or any video in English that you might be interested in. So just speaking along, practicing along will help you to improve your speaking.
Understand how the rhythm of English works in full sentences
The next thing that you can do is to learn how pronunciation works in full sentences.
In English, we don't just say one word at a time - different words will join together in a sentence, and you need to learn how this works.
For example, when you say these sentences, you would blend the words together:
black and white
Does he know?
What do you think?
What do you want to do?
You need to learn how these patterns work in English. If you can learn to do this, it will become much smoother and easier to speak in English.
2. The mental aspect
When you're speaking, you're not just moving your mouth, you're also moving your brain.
You need to get better at converting your ideas into speech. And this is something that you can also practise, even on your own. Some people say that it's bad to translate from your native language when you're speaking English, but in my experience, at the very beginning, when your English is not so good, you may have to or you may be translating from your language into English. This is also something you can practice. You need to practice 'thinking in English.'
When you are speaking, you can practice thinking, "How do I say that in English?" You can look things up in the dictionary. You can think about something you've seen that day. You can practise telling stories in English.
You can also practice when other people are speaking. You can think "How do I say that sentence in English?" This will really help you to get quicker and better at converting your ideas into English.
You can practice recording a one-minute video every day about a different topic. You could also make a video blog, and this will make you better at expressing yourself in English.
The more you do it, the better and the more confident you will feel.
Learn phrases or whole sentences, not single words
Another thing that you can do to get away from translating in your head is to learn whole sentences or whole phrases in English.
This means that when you're speaking, you will have more phrases that you can call upon, and speaking will become more natural.
Learn sentence patterns or keywords
Another thing that you can do is to learn sentence patterns or keywords.
Although I'm not good at English, I practice every day.
In addition to -
In addition to running, I also like skiing and swimming.
As well as -
As well as running. I also like to go to the gym.
You can practise different sentence structures like these and you can use keywords to make longer sentences. This will help you to to say more advanced sentences and longer sentences in English, more like a native speaker.
Increase your input with more listening
Of course, it's not enough to just listen to English. But the more listening you do, the more English you will have floating around in your head and the more you will be able to say when you want to speak.
You can listen to TV series, podcasts, and so on - whatever you're interested in, but beware of the listening trap. You may listen to a lot of English, and you think that you can also speak English well, but you actually need to practise speaking as well.
Create opportunities to practice speaking English
Try to create as many opportunities as you can to practise speaking English. It could be a conversation practice with a friend. It could be a language exchange. You could find a language teacher online, or in your local area. You could try to find classes online or WhatsApp groups or Facebook groups online, you can use language learning apps like italki and Hellotalk. These are all good ways to find native speakers. But you need to try to practice speaking as much as you can, preferably with native speakers.
It is best to try to practise two to three times a week if you can, and try to speak for longer each time.
3. The emotional aspect - get over your fears of speaking English
To speak English fluently, you need to get over the emotional issues you may have with speaking English.
A lot of people find that when they have to speak English with a real English speaker, it's much more difficult than when they are in a class or when they are practising at home, because they feel nervous. They feel that the other person may be judging them.
You will find that as soon as you're speaking to a real person, you speak less well, but this is normal. You need to accept that you're going to be more nervous at the beginning. It's important not to be too harsh on yoursel - accept that you're going to make mistakes, accept that you're not going to speak so well at the beginning and know that the more you practice, the more confident you will get, and the more relaxed you will feel. It's important to feel relaxed when you're speaking a foreign language, rather than nervous. But this is just something that comes with practice.