If you are like most English learners, you been studying English for years. You have learnt grammar for years and years. You already have a vocabulary of around 500 words. You know how to read and write well in English, skills you learnt in school, where English was taught as a secondary language. You understand most of it when native English speakers speak. But you can’t speak fluently in English!
Today, we are going to discuss some techniques how you can become fluent in English without studying boring grammar or wasting time on English language software. These techniques will help you speak correct English effortlessly and naturally. These methods will also help you immerse in the English language and develop confidence in speaking English.
Most importantly, these techniques are practical things you can try on your now time without the help of an English tutor or trainer.
Let’s be honest – most textbooks are boring and un-engaging. Textbooks are useful when you are learning history or biology but when it comes to learning a language textbooks add little value. Most English language textbooks are full of fake “dialogues” (conversations) that never really happen in real life. E.g. A dialogue between you and a barber in English. Most phrases and expressions used in these dialogues/role plays are unnatural.
Also, textbooks are full of grammar rules so your head gets filled with thousands of grammar rules and their exceptions. You become afraid to speak English!
English audiobooks, however, are much better because they are written for native speakers. English audiobooks are read by native English speakers, for native English speakers. You will hear natural pronunciation and slang expressions more commonly used by native English speakers.
Additionally, Audiobooks are a great way to learn new vocabulary. By learning with your ears, you learn new words and you learn their correct pronunciation. The learning process is more active. Improving your listening skills indirectly help you improve your English speaking.
Lastly, English audiobooks allow you to immerse yourself in the English language in a very convenient way. For example, if you have a long commute, listen to an audiobook while driving! You will be improving English without spending any extra time.
Looking for an English audiobook to get started? Try A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.
Are you wasting hours and hours cramming the dictionary but finding that you can’t recall those words when speaking in English?
Have you been using flashcards and memorizing various word lists (such as GRE /GMAT /CAT) but find yourself in situations where the “right word does not come” when speaking English.
There is a big difference between knowing the meaning of words and been able to use them correctly in real life situations. Technically speaking, this is distintion between active vocabulary and passive vocabulary. Active vocabulary is simply the words which you are able to use freely. Passive vocabulary consists of words you know but that you don’t/can’t use freely.
The trick to becoming fluent in English is to expand and grow your active vocabulary. People who are truly fluent in English don’t get stuck looking for the right word. It comes, naturally.
So how do you grow your active vocabulary? The key is to speak English a lot. Practice speaking as much as possible, preferably with native English speakers. This is the only way your brain gets used to using different words and putting them together in sentences, real time.
The “knowledge” you get from having real conversations with native English speakers is a lot more powerful than any other method of learning English. You will learn many things you can’t learn through textbooks or software – the right pace to speak, where to pause between sentences, which sounds to stress/de-stress, etc. by practicing English with native speakers.
This is why immersion based English programs such as www.spokenenglishpractice.com are highly effective. You can’t become fluent in English without practicing with native speakers.
Do you want a teacher or an conversation partner? Do you want a teacher who corrects you all the time or a teacher who allows you to speak without interruption? Do you want a teacher who teachers grammar and vocabulary or a teacher who gives me conversation practice?
All those are important questions to ask before picking a English school/ English course/ English tutor.
We have written a lot of comprehensive blog posts on this subject. Have a look if you are interested.
What ever direction you go with, try to get an English teacher who gives you enough opportunities to speak in English during class. If you interrupts and corrects you all the time, you will not get enough time to speak English. You will loose confidence and be afraid to speak.
Think and decide whether you are concentrating on accuracy or fluency. If your goal is to become more accurate in using English, pick a English teacher who teachers a lot of grammar. But if your goal is to become more fluent, you have to pick a Conversation partner style teacher who gives you more opportunities to speak in class.
Pick the right teacher and you will save a lot of headaches!