It may sound like a completely mad question on an English improving blog. Especially taking into account I’m a passionate proponent of English speaking practice as the main activity for improving anyone’s English.
What you probably don’t know about me is that I’m also a vehement proponent of practicality in all aspects of life with English being not an exception. I strongly believe that you are what you do and regarding English improving it translates into your English is what you do ❗
To put it simply, you have to look at it from the following perspective.
It’s your daily activities that determine which aspects of English you’re relying upon most.
If you live in a foreign country and use English mostly for surfing the Net and watching English TV channels, that is what you actually need your English for. Also if you don’t get many opportunities to communicate with other English speakers, you won’t be needing spoken English skills as badly as someone who has moved to an English speaking country or works, for instance, as a cell centre operator supporting English speaking customers.
To dispel any confusion that might arise from what I just said clashing with my usual “English is a tool for communication first and foremost!”, please note that my blog and the whole English Harmony project is dedicated to those foreign English speakers who need to speak English regularly, but struggle with it.
The point I’m trying to make in this blog post is the following – if you don’t need to communicate using English because of specific circumstances, probably you shouldn’t be overly concerned about improving your spoken English (unless you need it in the foreseeable future, of course!)
But remember – your English is what you do, and you need the aspect of English you’re using most – depending on whether you read a lot, write, or speak during your daily activities ❗
Just because you’ve got this idea in your head – “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to speak English like a native? Yes, I want to improve my spoken English!” doesn’t mean you actually NEED to be a brilliant English speaker.
Firstly you have to ask yourself – “Have I got guts to improve my spoken English?”
And then – “Am I really going to spend 30 minutes daily on speaking with other English speakers online?”
And at last – “Who am I going to talk to in real life if all I use English for is actually reading English websites and posting comments on Facebook?”
If you don’t USE it you LOSE it!
That’s a fact. It’s sad, but it’s still a fact. And it’s also natural.
If I didn’t live in an English speaking country, I’d have very little opportunities to use English for interpersonal communication purposes.
And once again – I’m not saying you have to ignore the spoken aspect of the English language! All I’m saying is that you have to be practical and not make unrealistic goals and commit to something you won’t be realistically capable of motivating yourself for.
Of course, there’s always a chance that you’ll be able, for instance, to go for a position in a company where English fluency is one of the basic requirements.
You see, you can’t really know what the future holds for you. My emigration to Ireland happened after a sudden work offer and I found myself in a situation where I was unable to speak normally because my English was a mess. I thought I spoke fluently while in reality I translated in my head from my native language. That’s a serious problem and even those who don’t use English for communication on regular basis should deal with it as it’ll help with other aspects of the language as well.
However, if your daily routine involves communicating with your fellow native speakers and you don’t live in an English speaking country, I’d say you’ll be doing just as fine by watching movies in English or reading books when it comes to your English improvement.
Subject English to your life – not your life to English!
Yes, I know, in theory you can find online chat rooms and use Skype to speak English with others and so on and so forth. You can also find English speaking people to hang out with – and if it’s something you’d love to do – why not! Of course, go for it!
On the other hand, if you’re a normal family man with commitments and tight daily schedule, it can all prove to be nearly impossible. I mean – will you start participating in couch surfing programs to get chance to practice spoken English with strangers? Will you really find motivation and time to spend 30 minutes daily on online language exchange programs to speak with people?
I don’t think so. I think you’ll stick to what’s PRACTICAL and USEFUL in your particular situation.
If you’re in love with English – like me – you’ll spend quality time with your children watching family movies together in English or at least with English subtitles switched on. You’ll search for information online pertaining to your hobbies and come across plenty of English websites and that will make you maintain and improve your English reading fluency. You’ll also practice some spoken English with yourself or your kids to maintain some level of fluency.
But you will find it really hard to improve your spoken English to near-native fluency if you don’t get regular practice with other English speakers. Unless you live in an English speaking country of course, or work or study in an English speaking environment. Then it’s an entirely different story altogether and speaking fluent English becomes a priority!
P.S. Are you ready to get on the fast track to spoken English fluency? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!