Language and music have many things in common, but principally they have one common trait: almost anyone can learn the rudiments, but not everyone can achieve real dexterity with them. You might be able to learn three guitar chords or a piano melody, but it takes real hard work to play whole arrangements fluidly.
If you’re an English language student, this might sound familiar. Learning basic vocabulary and grammar isn’t too tough, but getting to the point where you can speak with a native speaker is a real challenge. A lot of students get close to a point of learning to speak fluently before quitting in frustration.
While it can be hard, it’s not good to throw out all the hard work students have already put in. English fluency can be developed with the skills already learned and with some other tips to note:
Listen, listen, listen
It might seem strange, but if you want to be a better speaker, you have to be a great listener. It is important to be able to listen, interpret information, and respond accordingly. Your ear will become tuned in to what people are saying and note inflections, accents, or particular terminology. It’s especially good to pay close attention to news broadcasts, radio, and conversations where people are speaking properly within the context of delivering information in their environment.
Put grammar away for a while
There’s no question that speaking with correct grammar is necessary. However it’s good to put grammar rules aside in order to develop your speaking more. Most English speakers don’t speak perfectly anyway, so once you get past that, you’re left with being forced to talk. Just start speaking and refine your oral grammar as you go.
Start colouring language
Along with your grammar and vocabulary notes, you’ve probably got another notebook full of slang, idioms, similes, metaphors, and particular regional dialect information. That’s the book you want to begin putting to use and actually begin to have fun with your language studies. You can now use funny terms or idioms like ‘I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place’ or ‘the weather outside is an icebox’. English is supposed to be fun, so it’s good to start to colour it as you speak more.
Get around English speakers
If you haven’t traveled already, using your English studies as a reason to do so. A good English class in your home country is great, but an extended trip abroad—plus taking an English study programme while you’re there—to the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa is invaluable. That will get you in the right environment to both hear spoken English and speak a lot to those you encounter there. A lot of students get scared but there is no substitute for communicating with English speakers on their own soil. That and you get a great adventure out of it too!
Don’t fear anything
If learning to speak English fluently is your goal, you have to be ready to talk to strangers, travel, experiment, and make mistakes. This is all a struggle and you will have problems. But don’t be afraid of anything. As hard as some of your speaking encounters might be, you’ll see a real improvement the more you speak and practice. It can take time but if you overcome your fear, you’ll really grow as an English speaker.
With all of these ideas in mind, take a look at the programmes The Language Gallery offer students looking to improve their speaking skills at their various British and Canadian locations. Speaking skills classes, one-to-one courses, plus speaking practice in TOEFL/IELTS exam preparation classes, and IELTS Exam preparation electives are available across our school locations for students to help with their fluency needs.