Fluency is the ability to speak a language with ease, without any hiccups! Now, you must be wondering what I mean by ‘without any hiccups’. Do not take that literally! It is an idiom. An idiom is a group of words whose actual meaning is different from the literal meaning. ‘Without any hiccups’ does not mean speaking a language without suffering from a bout of hiccups, what it means is speaking a language without stopping and stuttering, and being unsure of how to use your words. Fluency means knowing how to use your words with ease and comfort.
Fluency comes with practice. You cannot study every “How to speak English” book and expect to be fluent in the language. Practice is a must! Also, if you think you read well and so you must be fluent as well, you are mistaken! Reading and speaking are very different.
The thing with leaning English is that you need not concentrate on the grammar while speaking. Concentrate on conversing. English is a weird language with a lot of loopholes.
Practicing speaking in English is a must. You cannot learn how to speak fluently otherwise. The reason for this is the slang that has infiltrated the language and also the utter lack of regard for grammatical rules while speaking. However, if one starts using correct grammar, by the book, English would sound extremely weird.
Learn how to begin a conversation. This will also grow your confidence. While standing in line, ask the person in front or behind you a simple question such as ‘What time is it?’ Try continuing with the conversation. If you have trouble understanding the person, politely ask them to repeat what they said. Normally, people say “I’m sorry?” but you could also say “Pardon”.
Practicing English speech will require confidence. During a social gathering, start small conversations. Do not hesitate to ask the person to repeat him or herself. If you do not understand the meaning of a particular word or phrase, ask them to clarify. Chances are they know you are in the learning process and would gladly help. Do not think that you can go home and open Google translations and type in the word or phrase they used. This does not work! Also, do not feel embarrassed when somebody corrects you. You could also go to a karaoke bar!
Reading and speaking is not enough. Listen to how people speak, the pronunciations, and the way words are use. Watch T.V., listen to songs etc. This way you are listening to other people speak and observe how they pronounce the words.
Read novels. Concentrate on the formation of the sentences. Novels have dialogues, a conversation between two people that you can use to your advantage. Notice how people speak. They do not pay attention to the grammar as much as they do to talking. Also, when you are reading, mark every unusual phrase or word and find out what it means. Incorporate new words into your vocabulary.
Do not translate
Avoid translating what you hear, or what you say. Translating a phrase from your mother tongue to English or vice versa will completely ruin the actual meaning of the phrase. It will also most likely be incorrect. Instead, use a dictionary.
Study words and phrases
I’ve been using the term ‘phrases’ a lot. You may know a thousand words in the language, but putting them together and making an intelligible sentence could be difficult. This is because you are not concentrating on using the words you are learning. To speak fluently, you need to learn how to put words together into phrases and sentences.
Idioms are an essential part of the English language. You will find yourself dumbstruck if you do not understand idioms. You might hear somebody saying ‘break a leg’ to you before your English exam, and you would be baffled at why somebody would want you to break a leg. ‘Break a leg’ is actually an idiom meaning ‘best of luck’ or ‘I hope you do well’. Fluency in English requires the knowledge of idioms.
Do not think of yourself as a student
To become fluent, think of yourself as a person who can speak English. You will make mistakes, but these are the building blocks. As a student, you would probably find yourself studying Grammar books. This is not important. To speak English properly, you do not need to study Grammar books. You would also be wasting a lot of your time by reading these books.
Recruit a friend as a mentor
An English-speaking friend is the perfect person to be with when learning the language. Surrounding yourself with people who can speak English fluently is important. You can ask a friend to help you along the way. Make it a point to talk in English, no matter how scattered it sounds. Ask friends and colleagues to correct you if you are wrong.
Movies and songs
Build a library of English songs and movies. This works better than just reading or listening to others speak. Songs and movies stick to your mind. ‘My Fair Lady’ is a good movie to watch since you are learning English.
Think in English
Make it a point to think in English and not your mother tongue. Whenever you are talking to yourself or thinking, do it in English. This way you will become more comfortable with the idea of speaking and learning the language.
Every night before going to bed, record your day’s events in an audio journal in English. You will find that you speak much better when you do not have to worry about embarrassing yourself in front of others. When you realize that you can speak reasonably well without stumbling around, your confidence will grow and you will find yourself initiating conversations.
Incorporate these points in your day-to-day life.
“Do It Right Now”: Steps to Start Improving instantly
Step 1: Watch an English movie twice and concentrate on how a person speaks
Step 2: On a piece of paper, note down all idioms and colloquialisms you come across
Step 3: Look up their meanings
Step 4: Make your own sentences and try incorporating them in your everyday life