How to speak English like a native

When you are first learning a language, it can be overwhelming trying to focus on all the different aspects required. From vocab, to grammar, to getting the right accent – it often takes a long time to finally pin down how to talk like a native English speaker. This blog will offer an introduction to the best way to do so.

Why learn to speak English like a native speaker?

The main aim of learning a language is usually to be able to communicate more effectively with more people and to immerse yourself more easily into a different culture. Learning to speak like a native can mean learning to adopt the tones, intonations and slang of native speakers which will allow you to immerse yourself more easily into that culture.

5 easy steps to speak English like a native

  1. Get familiar with different English accents: there are a variety of different accents used by native English speakers. In England alone, accents vary across London, Essex, Newcastle, Manchester and many more. There are also Scottish, Welsh, Irish, American and Canadian accents - so if you are learning English from a variety of sources you could end up with a variation of all these accents. As you become more confident with the language, you will find it easier to identify different accents.
  2. Improve your pace and clarity: An important aspect of sounding like a native is being able to match native speakers’ communication pace. This will also come over time and improve as your confidence grows.
  3. Learn to use idioms: The British are known for their use of idioms – phrases which are often used to mean something completely different to how they are said. If you are not a native English speaker, this can often be confusing! E.g., phrases such as: ‘The best thing since sliced bread’ can be used to mean a great innovation. Getting a grip of common idioms and phrases can make it easier to understand people in everyday conversation.
  4. Use what you’ve learned immediately: The best way to learn anything quickly is by practicing as you go. Using what you’ve learned immediately keeps things fresh in your mind and means you get a chance to try out words or phrases you may hear friends or colleagues using.
  5. Use slang when you speak English: When it comes to language, different parts of the world adopt different commonalities and slang words and phrases. Becoming familiar with British slang when studying in the UK will allow you to engage with people more easily on an everyday basis.

Here are some general differences between native English speakers and non-native English speakers, however this can change dependent on how strong the non-native English speakers’ skills become over time.

Native English speaker

Non-native English speaker

People whose first language is English or learned to speak English as a baby

People who learn English as a foreign language

Accent most likely recognisable as a native English accent

Accent may be distinguishable

Understand and utilise slang in conversation

May need to research/practice to correctly use slang

Understand and can easily use idioms

May need to research/practice to correctly use idioms

Naturally speak with pace

May initially speak slower while learning the language

Frequently asked questions

When trying to become fluent in English, there are some commonly questions that arise. These include:

  1. Is it possible to speak English like a native speaker?
    Yes – it is possible to speak English like a native speaker if you are willing to put the time and energy in to learn. Overtime, if you converse with enough people, watch enough movies, read enough books, and most importantly – get enough practice – your accent and speaking style will dramatically improve.
  2. How long does it take to speak English like a native?
    This completely depends on the person and the amount of time you are spending practicing. If you speak English every day, you are much more likely to pick things up quickly. However, if you are learning for 1 year, but you only speak English once a week at your language class, things could take a lot longer.
  3. How can I learn native English faster?
    If you have the chance to live in the UK, this is one of the best options for speeding up the process of learning to speak like a native English speaker. Living in the UK means you will be able to interact with native English speakers every day, allowing you to pick up slang, idioms and commonly used phrases.
  4. How can I improve my English accent?
    Again, your accent will improve the more you are around native English speakers. You can also improve your accent by watching movies, tv programmes or listening to music.

What next?

So, if you want to learn how to speak like a native English speaker – why not enrol in a course at The Language Gallery where you can spend time in the UK amongst many different accents?

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