At the moment of writing this article I’ve posted more than 150 posts on this blog, and they’re all dedicated to the topic of spoken English improvement.
That’s why I find it slightly strange to receive e-mails asking a question “Robby, can you help me improve my English?” Normally I would reply with another one-liner – “Please feel free to browse around my website, there’s plenty of articles and videos and they’re all about improving your English fluency!” – because I just couldn’t fit everything there is to say about improving your English in one e-mail!
Also, I was under the impression that such queries are most likely asked by those who haven’t bothered checking out my blog. After all, all the information is available right here, on my website, and all you have to do is just read a few articles to start seeing the big picture, right?
Recently, however, I realized that it’s probably not as easy as it looks to me.
First of all, I’m dealing with a host of English fluency related issues and I have to admit not all of them are relevant to those who just want to IMPROVE their overall level of fluency. For example, if you have the typical English fluency issue whereby you can’t speak on certain occasions but you’re perfectly find on others, your main concern isn’t spoken English improvement as such; in this case you want to learn how to manage your fluency and make sure you don’t get severe anxiety and lack of confidence when you experience reduced ability to speak properly.
Secondly, I can also imagine that the abundance of information on my blog might be a bit overwhelming and it’s not that easy for someone having arrived here for the first time to figure out what EXACTLY they have to do to improve their English.
That’s why I decided to write this 5 step plan with easy, to-the-point instructions on how to make sure your English is experiencing constant growth and improvement.
1. Stop using your native language
when learning English!
Have you always assumed that explaining new English words using your language is the only way you can build your vocabulary?
Can you not imagine speaking in English without thinking in your native language and translating into English as you speak?
Well, if you want to see any significant improvement to your ability to speak and also write in English, you just have to eliminate your native language from the equation.
You have to make it your point to learn new vocabulary through the English language – if you keep translating into your mother’s tongue, you’ll never get rid of that bad habit of translating in your mind when speaking because of the wrong mental associations between your language words and the English counterparts.
I’m pretty sure you’ve noticed that if you translate from one language to another word-by-word, it just doesn’t sound right. Wrong expressions, awkward sentences – anyone who’s spent some time among native English speakers will notice the difference!
So you definitely want to make sure you are able to THINK IN ENGLISH when you speak or write in English and the first step towards it is very simple – explain new English vocabulary ONLY using other, simpler English words and also force yourself to stop worrying about knowing the exact translation of a certain word or phrase in your language.
You must keep English and your native languages separate, remember that
2. Speak as much as you can and whenever you can!
The sole reason languages emerged during the evolutionary process is so that human beings could COMMUNICATE with each other.
Passing knowledge from one to another in written format and being able to retrieve it by reading is language’s secondary purpose and even though nowadays it’s probably just as important as the interpersonal communication factor, spoken word always comes first.
Yes, fluent speech is what underpins your general English knowledge in its every aspect – reading, writing and speaking – so you have to make it your aim to speak as much as you can and whenever you can
You might have realized by now that the traditional approach towards English learning yields mediocre results because of the main focus on writing and reading, so believe me – if you become a good English speaker, you’ll also be able to read and write very well whereas the opposite statement isn’t always true.
You have to embrace every opportunity to speak with other English speakers.
You have to embrace every opportunity to speak with YOURSELF – yes, speak a lot with yourself! – if there’s no-one else available (you can plan your day and think aloud at moments when you’re alone – and it helps greatly, believe me!)
There are no quick-fixes.
The ONLY way to improve your English – especially spoken English – is by speaking it, full stop.
3. Stop studying English grammar workbooks!
If you’ve been having this idea in your mind lately that you should improve your English, and you’ve been considering purchasing some study materials, please listen to this:
DON’T FOCUS ON STUDYING ENGLISH GRAMMAR!
I can’t stress it enough, so I’ll say it once again – Don’t Focus on Studying English Grammar!
You should think of English grammar as something that is present in every English sentence, every word combination. It’s what binds words together and allows them to come out of your mouth freely and effortlessly.
So, as per your initial e-mail, you wanted to figure out how to improve your English. Well, quite obviously it can be achieved by learning how words go together in the English language so that you can speak them out fluently and freely, isn’t that right?
Well, then can you tell me why on Earth would you want to analyze sentence structure, learn English Grammar Tense tables and irregular verb tables INSTEAD of learning how words are arranged in natural, fluent English speech?
I’ll give you the real answer – because you didn’t know any better.
Sorry, I know, the truth hurts, but I’d rather you swallow the red pill and wake up from the English grammar Matrix.
Once your English grammar basics are covered, I suggest you opt for the following print media in order to improve your English:
- English Collocation and English Phrase complications (go to Amazon.com and type in “English collocations in use”) so that you can learn and incorporate English collocations in your speech and writing;
- English fiction – you can most definitely start reading English fiction even with a limited vocabulary;
- Any hobby and pastime related literature – magazines, newspapers etc.
4. Mimic other English speakers and
stop just sticking words together!
Here’s another thought for you – to speak fluently you need to be able to replicate native English speakers’ speech.
If you just keep sticking words together – or even worse, translating directly from your native language! – you won’t develop that special feel for “Yes, that sounds right in English!”
And you know what this “Yes, that sounds right in English!” feeling is?
It’s an acquired entity of idiomatic expressions, collocations, phrases and expressions you can quite successfully learn and add to your active vocabulary by doing the following:
- Whenever you HEAR or READ a new phrase, expression, or just a word, repeat it to yourself and try to use it in a sentence or as a part of speech as soon as possible. Ideally you should jot it down in a notebook for later REPETITION, and remember – no translation in your language! You’re only allowed to use other English words to explain it!
- Don’t try to analyze and figure out WHY words are used in a certain way. For instance, you might start questioning the phrase “I’d rather you don’t do it” because the word “you” doesn’t seem to fit in right after the “I’d rather” part (and I thought the same when I heard it first!) Your job is to learn TO USE it without questioning – the moment you start equaling English to your language and you want to figure out what EXACTLY it means in your language – you’re done.
5. Buy the English Harmony System!
Yes, that’s the final step in the five step program, and I’d be lying if I left the English Harmony System out – after all, I developed it with one purpose in mind – to help struggling English speakers to achieve fluency!
At the moment there are 90 speech exercising lessons included in the System (every lesson is around 10 minutes long). They’re video lessons where a digital character of me speaks and you have to repeat and memorize different English phrases, idiomatic expressions, and sentences.
The voice has been recorded by a native English speaker and all of those phrases, phrasal verbs, idioms and sentences included in the lessons have been purposefully selected by a native English speaker to provide the best mix in terms of relevance and usage in everyday conversations etc.
After the repetition stage you’re required to take part in a dialogue where all those phrases have to be used again. Every lesson is to be done twice over the course of three months; after that you should repeat the whole set of 90 lessons again to revisit the phrases and make sure you imprint those natural speech patterns into your mind.
What’s very important – it’s not only about memorizing the phrases; your mouth gets trained to produce English sentences INSTANTLY and you can easily REPLACE some words to create new sentences depending on an occasion; it becomes your second nature instead of racking your brain and trying to stick words together as you speak!
Also, there’s a set of 10 meditation lessons included in the English Harmony System and they’re based on using affirmations and visualization to build one’s confidence.
This is very, very important because most of my fellow foreigners who struggle with English fluency also experience confidence issues and are afraid of making mistakes while speaking, which in turn leads to all sorts of problems – getting tongue-tied, hesitation, and others.
So as you can see, the English Harmony System is going to address ALL the different aspects of your English – it’s going to re-build your active vocabulary according to natural speech patterns, it’s going to enable you to speak instantly and without thinking, and it’s going to make you into a confident speaker who’s not afraid of making mistakes BUT also speaks with confidence and can speak about any topic with anyone!
OK, so let’s recap the five point plan:
- Stop using your native language;
- Speak as much as you can;
- Stop studying English grammar;
- Mimic other English speakers;
- Buy the English Harmony System!
P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!
P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!