7 Powerful Tips on how to become a fluent English speaker
No one wants to learn English slowly.
Every learner wants to learn English as quickly as possible.
That is why I’ve put together these 7 tips that will help you become a more fluent and confident English speaker by using the most effective methods and learning strategies.
TIP 1: SET A GOAL AND CREATE A LEARNING STRATEGY
Let’s say you currently have a B1 level of English.
Great! This is a good level to have. However, your goal should be to have a higher level by a certain date.
For example, you can say: “I want to have a C1 level of English within 9-12 months.” This goal is specific and has a deadline. The goal should be attainable but ambitious.
If you make it unrealistic, you’ll soon give up. If you make it too easy, you won’t see any progress and that isn’t exciting. Again, you’ll give up.
Now that you have your goal, it’s time to create your learning strategy. This consists of the following:
- how much time you spend learning English per day/week
- what you do
You need to get both of these areas right.
TIP 2: LEARN ENGLISH EVERY DAY (2 WAYS)
Now that you have your goal, it’s time to create a strategy.
This starts with the commitment to doing something in English every day. Why every day?
Because of the following reasons:
- it’s what you need to do if you want to learn English fast
- it gets you into the habit of doing something in English
- repetition and sleep is powerful
You can’t expect to improve quickly if you only attend language classes twice per week. The world has changed too. We can now access unlimited resources to aid us with our learning.
Daily practice is a fantastic habit.
Split your time up into the two types of learning (tip 3 and 4) so that even on days when you don’t feel like doing something, you still do it.
TIP 3: SURROUND YOURSELF IN ENGLISH
Create the perfect English-learning environment
You’ve probably heard others say this before, right?
Listen to things in English. Read things in English. Watch things in English. And there’s a good reason why so many people recommend this:
Because it works. Doing things in English will help you reach fluency faster. However…
… find resources that are right for you.
When I started learning Spanish, I made the mistake of watching movies before I could understand them. I was a beginner but I tried to watch movies that were impossible – for me – to understand.
Many learners ask me: How can I understand movies in English?
I understand the desire to watch them. But if you don’t understand them, you won’t enjoy them. If you don’t enjoy them, you’ll stop watching them.
What’s the answer then?
Find TV shows, podcasts, songs, books, and anything else that is suitable for you. Use this criterion:
- Is this suitable for my level?
- Am I interested in it?
- Am I going to learn the type of English that I want/need to learn?
In my case, I started watching the news in Spanish. It was much easier to understand than movies and I was interested in what was going on. It also taught me the type of vocabulary I wanted to learn.
Another great resource is the graded novel. This is where a novel is rewritten for English learners. Choose books specific to your level and enjoy it. Find audiobooks too.
As your level increases, you’ll be able to use more native resources. For example, listening to podcasts from the U.K. or watching TV shows.
But until you reach that level, don’t do anything that is too difficult. Choose resources that are suitable for your level.
TIP 4: USE POWERFUL LEARNING METHODS SO YOU IMPROVE QUICKLY
Now that you have a goal, a commitment to learning every day, and you are surrounding yourself in English, what’s next?
What is deliberate practice?
It’s where you focus on improving something specific by following a strategy that is specific to you. An example will help:
I used to teach English in Spain. I noticed that Spanish speakers had similar problems with their English. One problem was that they said, “I have been in English three times” instead of “I have been TO Spain three times.”
So, we practiced. I had them repeat similar phrases and tested them over the coming weeks.
Even though I was part of this process, you can do this on your own too. Part of deliberate practice is spotting the mistakes you make and making changes.
… while in tip number three you are learning passively (watching, reading, listening), with deliberate practice, you are actively learning. Here are some examples of deliberate practice:
- taking lessons with a teacher
- improving your pronunciation by learning sounds and repeating them
- using the TF method
This takes more effort than doing something like listening to audiobooks. But the dedication to improvement is powerful and I highly recommend you make this a priority.
TIP 5: START USING THE TF METHOD TODAY
The To Fluency Method (also known as the LRRC Method) is a simple way to improve your speaking, grammar, and vocabulary.
It works like this:
- Listen to a sentence
- Repeat the sentence and record yourself saying it
- Listen to your version and the original
- Make changes to the way you say it and get long-term repetition.Again, focus on the type of English you want/need to learn. You can create your own sentences from audio you find or use ready-made sentences
Use your phone to record yourself saying these sentences. Then, compare your version to the original audio. This is where you will notice differences. The more you do this, the easier it will be for you to spot differences.
Then, make changes to the way you say it.
This is where you will feel some resistance. A lot of people don’t like the sound of their own voice and have to really concentrate in order for this method to work.
Get over this and commit to it. It works amazingly well.
TIP 6: GET SPEAKING PRACTICE (HERE’S HOW)
Let’s start talking about how to put it all into practice now.
Deliberate practice is like football training while having conversations is like playing football games. Both are needed for faster progress.
One of the most common questions am I asked is this: how can I get more speaking practice?
There are three ways:
- get a teacher
- join a language exchange
- make friends / join clubs
TIP 7: LEARN THE ENGLISH YOU NEED TO KNOW (80/20 RULE)
We’ve talked about this briefly but this needs its own tip!
Focus on the type of English you need to know – the type of English you are going to use. You can think about this in two ways:< >when surrounding yourself in English, choose topics that are for youwhen practicing deliberately, focus on the right type of languageword-frequency lists. However, you will need to find sentences including these words in order to practice in the right way.
But to make things easier, I recommend learning the language in graded readers (see tip two), listening to conversations in English, and downloading commonly used sentences with audio.