Fluency is the stage of learning a language when things just “click.” It takes a lot of time and effort to reach this level, so many people don’t think it’s realistic.
But, thousands of people reach English language fluency every year, and with enough determination, you can too! To help you out, we asked Preply’s expert language tutors for their best tips and advice. Keep reading to find out what they said.
12 tips for speaking English fluently
1. Start speaking English as much as possible
The one thing you absolutely have to do to speak English fluentlyis get more speaking practice. Almost all advice on achieving your fluency goals will eventually come down to this. Nothing else you can do is as effective, or as important.
If you’re living in a country where spoken English is not common, finding opportunities to practice can be difficult. Try some of these methods:
- Buddy up with an English speaker who is learning your native language. If you don’t know anyone, try downloading a language exchange app.
- Schedule 1-on-1 online classes with an English tutorto get expert advice on your English speaking skills.
- Use English learning apps with speech recognition software.
- Connect with a small group of international learners in online group classes.
- When you have reached an intermediate level, attend webinars or live events.
- Narrate your own life in English. For a fuller explanation of how to do this, check out YouTuber Bob the Canadian’s advice here.
If you can find some creative ways to fit regular English-speaking opportunities into your life, things will start to “click” faster than you think.
2. Get a personal tutor
If you are serious about becoming fluent in English, invest in a personal language tutor. Talking to an expert English tutor even just once per week can dramatically boost your progress.
You’ll be able to ask questions about English regularly, discuss new words relevant to your own life, and will receive feedback on your English conversation skills in real-time. It’s much easier to stick to a regular learning routine when you feel accountable to and comfortable with somebody. Study with an English teacher and you’ll have your own personal language coach.
With Preply, 1-on-1 English lessons have never been more convenient or affordable. There are tutors in different time zones and from all across the world, so there will be an expert available at any time. The unique search filter also allows you to choose what you can afford to pay — prices start from as low as $10/ hour.
Prefer working in a group? No problem. Preply’s English group classes can help you connect with people around the world and learn from their mistakes and strengths. They are also a great option if you want to combine interactive video chat lessons alongside a course, but don’t want to be tied into an expensive solution.
3. Expose yourself to English every single day
If you want to speak fluently, it’s vital to get as much exposure to English as possible. You should be doing something in English every day, even if you’re not actively studying. There are simple changes you can make to your environment to help expose yourself to English:
- Change your phone/social media/tablet settings to English
- Listen to English music
- Read the news in English
- Commit to watching TV shows and movies in English
- Keep a language journal in English
This technique is called “language immersion.” It’s a great way to get used to the sounds and text of a new language and to reinforce what you have learned.
If you’re interested in getting as much English into your daily life as you can, you might want to check out our articles on learning English with podcasts or learning English with stories.
4. Make the most of technology
How many apps to learn English do you have on your phone right now? Probably at least one! The digital age has revolutionized language learning, and it’s easy to forget how lucky that makes us.
There’s a wealth of study technology available, so choose carefully. Make sure that you’re using the most effective resources for your own study habits, and that you’re not falling into the trap of relying too heavily on game-like apps.
Apps have many limitations, and you will still need to mix up your activities to learn English faster. As John Fotheringham, creator of languagemastery.com says: “Language apps are a great supplement to a balanced language diet… but they shouldn’t be the main course“:
It’s also easy to forget what a great resource YouTube videos are for ESL learners. There are more hours of expert advice on YouTube than any student could watch in a single lifetime.Even better, almost every video can be watched with subtitles, played at slower speeds, paused, and replayed until you understand every word. Check out our article on top YouTube channels for learning English.
5. Use resources made for your level
If you’re determined to reach fluency, it can be tempting to skip over resources made for intermediate-level English learners and jump straight into content made for fluent English speakers.
Every ambitious language learner has done this at some point or another! However, the reality is that you’ll get a lot more from your study hours if you use resources made for your level.
For instance, instead of watching the latest American blockbuster with subtitles on in your own language, try watching an episode of an English-language cartoon without any subtitles. You will understand far more and will gain more new vocabulary from the context.
6. Work on your pronunciation
Working on your pronunciation is helpful for a few reasons. We all need to be understood, and pronunciation practice helps us speak with clarity. This doesn’t mean that you need to get rid of your accent, not at all. But it will be frustrating for yourself and other English speakers if they do not understand you.
Some of the work in becoming fluent and pronouncing words clearly is physical. If your native language sounds very different from English, then you will need to pay attention to moving your mouth and tongue in a new way.Native Spanish speakers, for example, sometimes say that speaking English for long periods of time makes their jaw ache!
One exercise you can try is using YouGlish: a tool where you can hear any sentence in a variety of English accents. This is great to repeat along to and practice your pronunciation but also improves your listening skills too.
For more practical exercises that you can bookmark and return to at any time, check out our English pronunciation resources.
7. Learn whole phrases, not words
Fluency is being able to speak whole sentences without hesitation. If you learn English one word at a time, it will be very hard not to hesitate when constructing sentences. That’s because you’ll have to translate every English sentence in your head from your native language, word by word.
There is another way: learning new words as part of a common phrase can ease mental strain when speaking.
To take a very basic example, if you are learning the word “tonight,” it would help to try and learn a whole phrase, such as: “tonight, I am going to…” This way, when you need to discuss your plans for the evening, your brain has half of the reply pre-prepared — there’s less pausing and thinking involved.
Learning lists of phrases in a new language is also known as “sentence mining”. Fans claim that it makes them able to use new vocabulary faster and memorize grammar in a more natural way.
Not sure which sentences to start with? Try this free list complete with audio recordings or invest in an ebook like this one.
8. Accept that you will feel uncomfortable speaking English
For almost everyone, speaking any new language means fighting through a fear barrier. This is completely normal! Your native language is a very precise tool for describing concepts. You are completely aware of the subtle implications your words carry, how to use irony and humor, and how word stress can slightly change the meaning of what you’re saying.
By comparison, speaking in any new language feels like using a blunt axe. You can’t say exactly what you mean. You might offend someone, or make a fool of yourself. You certainly won’t seem as smart as you really are. It’s intimidating! Few language learners talk about how much it sucks.
Language expert and polyglot, Olly Richards, states that language learners have to have a “tolerance for ambiguity”. His method to learn languages quickly includes accepting confusion when learning a language. You’re not going to understand everything or speak perfect English as you try and reach fluency, and that’s ok.
Real progress comes when you get over the embarrassment of putting yourself in English-speaking situations, and allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them.
9. Consider a big lifestyle change
It almost goes without saying: the fastest way to become fluent in English is to move to an English-speaking country. If you are determined to speak fluent English and can relocate for a few months, this will save you a lot of time.
However, for most people, this just won’t be possible. Don’t worry if that applies to you because there are other big lifestyle changes you can make to boost your English level, including:
- Get a job or intensive hobby that involves speaking English. (You could always teach English speakers your native language on Preply!)
- Clean out your spare room and use it to host English-speaking travelers, via a service like couch-surfing.
- If others in your household are learning English, create times when you only speak English together — perhaps at mealtimes/on Monday evenings/in the car.
- Fall in love with a native English speaker. Of course, this is something you absolutely cannot plan, but this is a guaranteed way to learn fast! Read our stories of people who have learned a language for love.
All of these are big changes, but they’re about building the language into your life. If you’re speaking your native language 99% of the time, then, of course, it’s going to take a long time for English to feel natural. If there are English-speaking situations in your routine, then progress will seriously speed up.
10. Plan your conversations when you can
This might seem like a silly tip for people who want to gain fluency. After all, fluency means being able to talk easily about anything you like! Well, that’s true — but if you aren’t there yet, then a bit of planning might boost your confidence.
If you are heading to an event where you know you can practice your English skills, try planning the small talkyou are going to make ahead of time. Are you going to talk about your kids? Your knitting group? Your job?
Whilst this may seem a bit silly, it can be helpful to have some conversation starters “ready to go” so that you can practice the vocabulary that you have been studying. This way, you won’t feel under too much pressure to come up with something interesting to say in the moment.
Need some inspiration? When you sign up for lessons on Preply, you get free conversation starters every week for you to learn new vocabulary, and talk about current trends and events with your tutor.
Preply’s conversation starters
11. Don’t focus too much on English grammar
Native speakers disobey the rules of their own language all of the time. This is something you’ll know if you’ve ever had to type out a recording of a spoken English conversation. Many British high school students don’t know what a phrasal verb is, even though they use them all the time!
Grammar rules are useful to be aware of — they’re essential to study at some point. But they should be lower down your list of priorities than getting English-speaking practice. Most of the time, you will be understood if your grammar isn’t perfect! Aim to be understandable, and after a little bit of work, grammatical rules will start to sink in naturally.
12. Try some karaoke
There’s no “hack” to become fluent fast, but using songs to learn English comes pretty close. Music is fantastic for learning languages, especially now that so many songs can be found on YouTube with free lyric videos.
Learn how to sing some of your favorite songs from memory, and you will easily gain new English words and phrases! Learning songs is also helpful for improving your listening skills, and absorbing grammatical rules in a more natural way.
Summary: Conversation practice is the key to fluency
Fluency is not a one-time destination to be conquered, but a continuous process of learning. Once you have achieved fluency, it will still take a degree of practice to keep your English language skills at the front of your mind.
The truth is that everyone who speaks any language at all is still learning. Research has shown that most people continue to learn an extra word in their native language every day until middle age!
Try to find this fact motivating rather than off-putting, and remember to celebrate every small success along the English learning journey. If you’re reading this article, you’ve mastered an impressive amount of English already!
Frequently asked questions
How can I learn English fluently in 10 days?
It’s impossible to learn any language fluently in 10 days. You could take an English course or work with a tutor intensively to boost your skills in 10 days but reaching fluent level from beginner takes a lot longer. Use this study plan calculator to work out how long it will take you to reach English fluency from your current level.
How can I speak English an easy way?
There is no single “easy” way to speak or learn English. To reach a conversational level of English you need to study and practice different aspects of the language including speaking, listening, reading, and grammar.
How can I speak English with confidence?
Getting confidence with spoken English is all about practice. To feel confident in speaking you have to have a conversation partner with whom you practice regularly. A great way to do this is by finding an expert English tutor on Preply. You can select a tutor based on price, speciality, and ratings from other students so you can find the perfect one for you. They will work with you on your conversation skills to improve your confidence.
How can I learn English fluently at home?
There are lots of steps you can take to learn a language at home. These include reading, listening to podcasts, music and watching English TV and movies. You can also practice speaking with a native English tutor on Preply.