How to talk English fluently

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Welcome to Oxford Online English!In this lesson, you can learn how to speak more fluently in English. How long have you been studying English? Doyou find that sometimes that even though you study hard, you can’t speak fluently? Doyou learn lots of grammar and vocabulary, but you find it difficult to make sentenceswhen you speak. In this lesson, we’re going to talk aboutfluency and what you can do to change this situation and improve your English fluency. Part one: what is fluency? Sometimes, when people talk about fluency,they just mean speaking a language well. For some people, speaking English fluently justmeans having a good general level of English. However, fluency is more specific than that.Fluency means you can speak smoothly, without stopping or hesitating. There are two sides to fluency. One side isphysical: your mouth needs to produce and connect English sounds and words in a fast,smooth way. The other side of fluency is mental: yourbrain needs to find the right words and build English sentences quickly and smoothly. To improve your fluency, you need to workon both sides: physical and mental. But first… Part two: rule number one: get out there! There are many things you can do to improveyour English fluency. However, if you want to become more fluent,there’s really one thing you have to do. Get out there and speak English. Talk to peopleand have conversations regularly. Nothing else you can do is as important as this. Reading English will improve your reading.Practicing listening will improve your listening. But what about speaking? Nothing will helpyour speaking except speaking. Speaking English is a practical skill. It’snot an academic subject; it’s not something you can learn from a book. It’s more like doing a sport or playinga musical instrument: you need to practice regularly to make any progress. How regularly? As often as you can! There’s no maximum, but I’d recommendyou need to spend at least 2-3 hours a week speaking English if you want to improve. So, how can you do this? Go to classes, talk to expats in your city,join groups or activities with English-speakers, find a conversation partner online, do a languageexchange; there are many possibilities! By the way, what you do doesn’t have tobe language-focused. You can go to English classes to practice your speaking, but anythingyou do which is in English and which will make you speak English is just as good. I’m going to take a guess here about whatmany of you are thinking right now: “But I don’t have people to talk to”; “ButI’m shy”; “But it’s too difficult.” Let’s talk about that quickly. Part three: get used to pressure. Speaking a foreign language is hard. Situationswhich would be easy in your language can feel difficult in another language. Situationswhich would feel difficult in your language can feel almost impossible when you have todo them in a foreign language. That’s how it is. It’s easy to imaginewhen you start learning another language that you will reach a point where everything iseasy and comfortable. But unless you live in a foreign country andlive completely inside that culture, that won’t happen. Trust me—I’ve studiedseveral languages at this point in my life, and speak them quite well, but it never feelseasy or comfortable. Why are we talking about this? I’m tryingto motivate you to go out and speak more, practice more. To do that, you have to acceptthat it will feel difficult, uncomfortable and intimidating a lot of the time. That’s how it is—don’t let it stop you!You can still practice, you can still communicate, and you can still improve. I’ll give you an example of this from myown experience. I hate making phone calls in another language. I don’t know why, butI find it particularly intimidating. I guess because I can’t use context or facial expressionsor anything like that to help me understand or communicate. I lived in Russia and I studied Russian. Ihated making phone calls in Russian. Then I lived in China and I studied Chinese. Ihated making phone calls in Chinese. Now I’m studying Greek. Guess what? I hate makingphone calls in Greek, too. It still feels just as difficult and justas intimidating. I haven’t learned any tricks to make it easier. All I’ve done is thatI accept that this is how it feels. That’s it. I still do it, because I have to sometimes. I just accept that I’m going to feel nervousor uncomfortable, and I have to speak and communicate anyway. And I do! It doesn’t stop you. Feeling nervousdoes not stop you communicating. This will be the same for you sometimes. Itmight be phone calls; it might be something else. The key point? You have to accept and learnto deal with that pressure. Don’t think: it feels scary, so I won’t do it. It won’tfeel less scary in the future. The only way to make it easier is to go out and do it. If you do that, you’ll feel more confident.It will get a little bit easier with time. Okay, so you know the most important pointabout fluency, but is there anything else you can do to practice? Yes, there is! Part four: speed reading. Find a text in English. It can be somethingfrom a textbook, from a newspaper, from a blog, or anywhere. The text should be fairly easy for you. Don’tchoose something with a lot of new words or something which is way above your currentEnglish level. Sit down with a timer. Read the text aloud.Time yourself. Now, read it again. Try to beat your previoustime! Keep going like this. See how fast you canread the text. What’s this for? Remember that part of fluency is physical.Your mouth needs to produce English sounds and English words fast and smoothly. Speed reading like this is a good way to practicethat side of fluency. This way of practicing is really useful becauseyou can do it almost anywhere and you can also do as much or as little as you have timefor. You can do five minutes practice or fifteen minutes, or half an hour. It’s all helpful! Let’s see another good technique like this: Part five: using songs. Find a song in English. Choose something whichyou like. Find the lyrics online. If you don’t knowwhere to look, just put the song title and the word ‘lyrics’ into Google. You’llfind them. Play the song. Read the lyrics. Sing! Like with speed reading, this is a good techniqueto practice the physical side of fluency. When you sing a song, you have to go at thespeed of the song. Start with slower songs, then choose fasterones. Try to choose something that’s possible but challenging, so you can sing the song,but it’s difficult to go fast enough. Again, this will really help with your physicalfluency. It’s also easy to do; you can do one song a day, and I promise you that youwill feel a difference quite quickly. I used this technique a lot when I was learning Chinese,and it really helped. Speed reading and singing songs are good forphysical fluency, but what about the mental side of fluency? Let’s see what you can do to improve that. Part six: learn language in chunks. Here’s a question: how do you learn vocabulary? When I see students learning vocabulary, oftenit looks like this. People write down the English word, the translationin their own language, and then they try to memorise it. Okay, but what does that have to do with fluency? Think about it: if you learn language likethis, you’re making your brain do things in a very unnatural and complicated way. First of all, you’re learning each wordindividually. But, when you speak a language, you don’t need individual words, you needphrases and sentences. Secondly, if you do this, you’re learningEnglish through your own language. You’re not learning to speak English, you’re tryingto learn to translate your language into English in your head. So, does this sound familiar? You have a sentencein your head in your own language. You move through the sentence, translating each wordinto English. If you don’t know the translation of a word,you get stuck, you feel bad about your English, and you stop speaking. You need to break this habit if you want tospeak fluently. First of all, this way of thinking and speaking is always slow. It willalways be slow, because you’re trying to do too many things at once. You’re trying to think and remember thingsin two languages—it’s too difficult for anybody. So what can you do? We said before that you need phrases and sentenceswhen you speak. So, learn language in phrases and sentences. For example, imagine that someone asks you: “What are you doing this weekend?” Look at three answers: “I’m going to see some old friends.””I’m thinking of going for a bike ride.” “I might do some odd jobs around the house.” Now, make your own sentences: “I’m going to .””I’m thinking of .” “I might .” Try to make two or three sentences for eachone, so that you use different endings. Now think: if someone asks you this question: “What are you doing this weekend?” If you remember language in big pieces, youonly have to remember two things: “(I’m going to) + (see some old friends).””(I’m going to) + (have dinner with my family).” “(I’m going to) + (watch some old movies).” That makes it easy to respond to questionslike this fluently. On the other hand, if you make a sentencein your head in err… your language in your head, and then translate each word into English,it’s much more complicated. You don’t just have to remember two things; you haveto remember many things. So, try to learn vocabulary in this way. Take a sentence like: “I went for a walk yesterday.” Keep the basic sentence form, but change partof it: “I yesterday.” Now, make 2-3 different sentences: “I took an exam yesterday.””I was lazy all day yesterday.” “I cooked a spicy curry yesterday.” Now, practice and remember the sentences andphrases. This is a much more natural way to learn vocabulary. If you learn vocabulary like this, it willbe much easier to respond fluently, because you won’t need to think in your own languageand translate. You’ll remember the whole phrases and sentences that you need. Okay, that’s the end of our lesson. I hopeyou learned something about spoken fluency and how you can improve your fluency in English! You can find more free English lessons onour website: Oxford Online English dot .

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