As I wrote in the previous blog post, the usage of the English language is limited to certain times and locations for most foreign English speakers. You use your native language in your family and with your native speaking friends, but you speak English at work, when dealing with official institutions and speaking with other English speakers.
If you’re committed enough to improving your English fluency, however, there are many ways to immerse yourself in English even when you’re outside of your typical situations when you’d be using the English language. In particular, it’s relevant to those not getting enough exposure to live English and not getting enough opportunities to speak with other English speakers.
So here’s the countdown of 4 most effective ways of active English immersion – if you combine them all you can essentially create your own unique English speaking environment! Personally I use all these methods to maintain my English fluency at a high level so you can take my word for it!
1. Speaking with other English speakers as much as you can
This is an obvious one and you probably think why I even put this one up here on the list.
The reason behind it is the following – many of us, foreign English speakers, are quite shy and would go great lengths to avoid interpersonal contact. We would rather avoid speaking with others because it makes us feel insecure and makes us aware of how many mistakes we make while speaking. We take up reading or other passive language input driven activities instead to prove we’re good enough… But for how long do you keep lying to yourself?
Reading and listening can never replace speaking, and no matter what some English teachers will tell you – yes, there are those who’ll tell you to devote 90% of your time to reading and listening to English! – it’s only when you speak that you truly develop your English fluency.
So if you live in an English speaking environment and you have opportunities to speak with others – seize every single one of them to make the most out of the time you spend with other English speakers! Don’t sit in a corner at office parties, actively engage in conversations with your work colleagues, embrace small-talk as a staple of your daily routine and try to talk about as many topics as you can.
On top of that – try to strike up conversations with English speakers in random situations. Are you walking your dog and the old man living ‘round the corner says hello to you? Stop for a short chat and ask him how he’s doing! Is the lady behind the checkout in your local shopping mall making a comment about the weather? Then make it your duty to say two more sentences in return – even if it’s irrelevant stuff!
But if you haven’t got plenty of opportunities to speak with other English speakers, you can always get the balance right by…
2. Speaking English with yourself!
I’ve mentioned this method hundreds of times on my blog and I won’t think twice before recommending it to you once more.
Basically it involves speaking with yourself – or whispering to yourself – about anything that crosses your mind; it’s more like verbalizing your thoughts and commenting on your activities. It’s a great way of ingraining the English language into your brain and getting yourself used to switching off your native language completely.
Obviously, you need to have a decent level of English before you can start such self-practice. Anyway – if you can read this article, you can most definitely speak English at a good enough level to know at least the Basic English Grammar stuff. Remember – don’t try to express yourself using the most sophisticated Grammar Tenses as it will make you feel as if you’re a useless English speaker!
Also, use simple vocabulary, especially if you have a tendency of getting stuck for words. Any foreign English speaker can be fluent using even limited vocabulary and if you listen to native speakers you’ll realize the average native English speaker speaks in simple, easy-to-understand sentences most of the time.
3. Counting in English
Some might say that counting in English is the same as speaking English with yourself so why should I separate it into a new category?
Well, personally I think it deserves to be mentioned on its own because most of mundane tasks we do at work would involve a great deal of counting and I think it’s an opportunity too big to be missed.
Personally I took up the habit of counting in English when I worked as an order picker in a warehouse. I had to read out product codes and get up orders all day long, and soon enough I realized I could use all that time to get used to pronouncing numbers in English because I had to read them out anyway!
To put it simply – it’s a very efficient and simple way of switching over to the English language and on top of that no-one would give you weird looks if hearing you counting in a slight whisper, for instance.
So if you have to count stock on a daily basis, or if you work in any type of data entry job (which is even better because you get to pronounce whole words as you enter them!) – start counting in English and you’ll definitely start noticing changes taking place. Why, it’s the first step to…
4. Thinking in English
Obviously in situations when you’re in public you wouldn’t speak with yourself or else you’ll be receiving weird looks and people will avoid you thinking you’re a bit nuts!
The solution is to think in English instead, which can be described as an inner chat with yourself. You basically have to switch off your native language and force yourself to use English words for any abstract concept that appears in your mind. I know it’s easier said than done, but I also know it can be achieved.
The rewards of having achieved the state of mind when you can think about anything what’s on your mind in English definitely outweigh all the hard work you’ll put into the process.
At times you’ll get very frustrated because your native language will keep mixing with English words. You see – your mother’s tongue has been hard-wired into you since you were a toddler, and thinking in their native language is the most natural thing for any person in the world.
Yet, as I said, it’s a very powerful technique to get your native language out of your system and replace it with English thus achieving a complete English immersion regardless of any other circumstances!
The only thing you have to bear in mind is that for the best results you have to think in a slight WHISPER. Just thinking alone won’t cut it because without the involvement of your mouth your thoughts will tend to be rather messy and you will still experience fluency issues.
P.S. Are you ready to get on the fast track to spoken English fluency? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!