learn to speak english fluently

Would you like to learn to speak English fluently?

Maybe you can understand English, but you feel awkward when you try to speak... There’s nothing wrong with you! It takes time to learn to speak English fluently, just as any skill takes time. 

three friends chatting in English

There are strategies that can help your fluency, and there are attitudes that can make it much more difficult.

One of those attitudes is perfectionism. If you feel you must always speak using perfect English grammar, it will make it much harder to speak fluently and naturally-- and may make it harder for people to get your message.

People will often understand you better if you speak freely, even if your English is not perfect. The key is to focus on your message, not the grammar. Remember, your purpose is to share ideas or get to know someone, not just to sound good! (Instead, you can work on correct grammar when you write.)

The rest of this page will suggest ways you can learn to speak English fluently and effectively.

Start with Listening

Start by surrounding yourself with English whenever you can. You want to immerse yourself in the language. Watch English movies, YouTube and TV shows.

Listen to English music and radio. These will help you become familiar with English rhythm and pronunciation. You’ll learn the patterns of English and begin to make them your own.

Practice listening comprehension actively. Listen to podcasts and Ted Talks, often more than once. The first time you listen, try to understand the main ideas.

The second time focus on key details and to get a better understanding of the speakers' emphasis and perspective. For the second listening you can use English subtitles or transcript to understand better if they help you.

Read English to Increase Your Vocabulary+

Read English whenever you have time, even just for a few minutes a day. Try reading the news in English, online articles, or blogs.

Start out with articles that you can understand at your current level and work up to harder and longer material. This will increase your familiarity with English sentence structure as well as vocabulary—and give you a foundation for building fluency.

Try starting an English vocabulary notebook (or use a flashcard app if you prefer.) In either case, note the new words and phrases that you read or hear. Look them up if you’re not sure of their meanings or use—preferably in English—and also note their pronunciation and stressed syllables.

As soon as you have a chance, try using these words in new sentences. This will help you make them part of your active English vocabulary.

building vocabulary

Build your English vocabulary with suggested articles or talks straight to your inbox once or twice a month.

Young woman reading on her computer.

Interested in a variety of online articles to read to improve your English? Every month I add descriptions & links to 2-3 great articles on a new topic. 

Young ladies: one listening, hand to ear, and one reading (with earbuds) 'Check your understanding of what you read & hear with these quizzes & practice. This image is a link to the page.

Practice listening & reading comprehension with exercises based on various reading sources and talks. Many include the same kinds of questions you will find on exams like the TOEFL & IELTS.

Think in English Every Day

Think in English whenever you can. Remember that when you translate from your native language in your head, your English will not be as fluent.

You'll slow your speech down and often use your native word order which may not work in English. That could confuse your listener or even cause them to lose the thought you were trying to share. 

So practice thinking in English whenever you can, even in little things: “Today I’ll go to the gym after work” or “it’s a great day for a walk.” Think about what you’re seeing on the way to work.

Make plans, consider your weekend, or even argue (silently) with an opinion you hear on the radio... (If you’re alone, it’s even better if you can express these thoughts aloud—in English, of course.)

If you have an important conversation or meeting in English coming up, plan ahead for what you might say or how you might answer any questions. Then rehearse it a few times so the idea, words, and key phrases will be “top of mind” (easy to remember) when you need them.

Practice to Learn to Speak English Fluently

Practice speaking in English whenever you have an opportunity. Talk with native speakers or find another language learner to practice with, either in a local group or online.

Chatting regularly in English may improve your pronunciation and fluency more than you would expect. (It’s also a help if they are willing to tell you if something you say is confusing or hard to understand,)

Pay special attention to pronunciation patterns, word stress, and intonation when you listen or practice English. When you have a chance, (for example, when listening to a Ted Talk or podcast that can be slowed down), mimic the speaker. This is called shadowing. It can really help you focus on the correct pronunciation and word stress.

In addition, find some songs, or a singer you like, and sing along with them. Singing is one of the best ways to make English intonation and stress patterns feel natural.

More Strategies for Developing Your Fluency

Practice writing in English with a journal or emails or taking part in online discussions, if you're brave.  When you're writing, pay attention to the grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure.

(When you're speaking you need to focus on meaning, so the best chance to work on your English grammar and organization is when writing-- when you also have time to check for errors.)

Consider taking some English classes in a language school, community college or online. Lessons can give you feedback, guidance, and a chance to interact with others. This may increase your fluency much more quickly.

It takes time to increase your English fluency. But you don't have to devote hours a week to it. If you have a busy schedule, see if you can usually find five or ten minutes a day (or 15-20 minutes minutes three or four times a week) adds up to 20 or 30 hours of practice in six months...

Set achievable goals and pay attention to your progress. Be sure to celebrate small victories to help you stay motivated.

Get comfortable with making mistakes as part of learning and you will get more fluent. It may even happen faster than you expect. 

Home > Advanced Communication Skills > Learn to Speak English Fluently

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