Updated: May 21
Speaking naturally and fluently in English is a goal of most of my clients. It doesn't happen overnight, but with a little commitment each day, it definitely can happen.
Here are 10 ways to make your speaking sound more natural:
1. Read. Read. Read.
Reading has been proven to increase language fluency, especially if you read out loud. Choose a book about a topic you love. Read more...
2. Talk to yourself out loud in English
When you're driving, doing the dishes, or when you have a free moment alone, talk to yourself. Describe to yourself what you are doing, what you need to do next, or anything to get your mouth physically moving! Talk often to build and reinforce those connections in the brain.
3. Find a language exchange partner online or in person.
Check out websites like www.mylanguageexchange.com or conversationexchange.com. where you can teach English, practice English, teach your native language or another language that you know. There are all sorts of arrangements that you can make. The key is to have a chance to speak real-time in English.
4. Keep a journal
Spend 10 minutes each day writing about your life experiences in English. Read more...
5. Find a podcast in English
Choose a topic that you are passionate about and start listening regularly. If you're a business owner, try out entrepreneurial podcasts. If you are into true crime (like I am), find a podcast that is well-produced and enjoyable. There are thousands to choose from these days.
6. Register for (and attend!) a class
Try out an exercise class, professional development class, or special interest class taught in English. It doesn't have to be in-person. The number of Zoom opportunities since COVID is truly astonishing.
7. Make a commitment to speak for 20 minutes or more in English each day.
You might only speak your native language in your household, but set a timer and agree to speak to your spouse, partner, or child in English for a set amount of time each day. It will feel unnatural at first, but you will get the hang of it.
8. Listen to a Ted Talk about a topic that inspires you.
Read along and out loud. Transcripts are almost always available on the site.
9. Describe pictures in magazines.
Add as much detail as you can. You will notice right away the vocabulary that you are missing. Make a plan to learn it.
10. Binge-watch on your favorite English show on Netflix.
What are some ways that you have tried? I'd love to hear from you, and your suggestions might help other ESL learners as well.