Most of you guys visiting this blog have certain English fluency related issues, the most typical of which is the tendency of getting “stuck” while speaking. It’s the terrible feeling of “I know exactly what I want to say, yet for some reason or another I can’t seem to be able to say it out loud!”
So I guess if you were to hear another foreign English speaker who can speak for hours on end in a way that it would seem you just can’t shut them up, you’d be thinking to yourself – “I wish I could speak like that…”
Well, as the old saying goes – be careful what you wish for!
You see, just because you can speak in English non-stop and you sound completely fluent, doesn’t necessarily mean you are easy to understand and you can get the message across to those listening to you!
I’ve come across a good few foreign English speakers in my life who haven’t struggled with their fluency in terms of hesitation and getting stuck for words, yet their ability to make themselves understood hasn’t been that great, which begs the inevitable question – what’s more important, the ability to speak without a single pause or the ability to make yourself crystal clear?
Not that those two would be mutually exclusive, I’m not trying to say you can’t be both!
All I’m trying to say is – if you struggle with your fluency ever so slightly, don’t beat yourself too hard.
You are probably much better at explaining certain things in English despite your fluency issues than someone who speaks without any hesitation at all yet lacks the ability to formulate concepts and organize thoughts!
It’s All About How You Structure Your Thoughts!
One of the first articles published on this blog describes the typical fluency issue faced by foreign English speakers as a room full of monkeys running wild and screaming
Just notice the timestamp of the article – it was published almost ten years ago at this stage, can you imagine? Anyway, that’s not why I wanted you to check it out; the reason for me bringing this article to your attention is the fact that this very same analogy can be used to describe some foreign English speakers who are sounding fluent enough.
You’re listening to them.
And a few seconds later you just catch yourself having drifted completely away from what the person is saying because the way they’re trying to express themselves is totally chaotic.
It indeed resembles the same room full of monkeys running wild when you just can’t speak, only this time around the person in question is more than able to voice their thoughts out loud and what comes out of their mouth is the same chaotic train of thoughts!
And again – please don’t get me wrong.
I’m not trying to say that you should be speaking in a super structured way, just like if you were reading a written piece that has been edited, proofread multiple times and honed to perfection.
Of course it’s not possible in real life, I’ve touched upon this subject many times here on this blog and I’ve explained to you guys that when you speak in real life, oftentimes you would leave sentences unfinished and start a new sentence and so on.
As a matter of fact, it’s a crucial feature of spoken English, and if you were to try to always join sentences together and speak just the way you write, you’d notice your fluency go down the drain!
What I’m talking about here is something completely different – not having any structure to one’s speech at all! It’s as if you’re trying to touch upon different aspects of the topic in question at once, your mouth can barely keep up with your racing mind, and what comes out of your mouth is something that others just can’t follow for the simple reason that they can’t get into your mind and see the bigger picture of what you’re trying to say.
Bottom Line – Keep Your Listeners In Mind!
I guess the best way for you to approach your own English speech would be the following – don’t try and focus too much on your OWN feelings.
You may feel that your English is lacking grammar, you may feel that you have moments of hesitation, and you may be under the impression that everyone else around you is a much better English speaker.
Sometimes those feelings are false assumptions – such as everyone else speaking better than you, and sometimes those feelings are signs that you should take some action such as look up how this or that particular thing is said.
You should not, however, be entirely focused on how YOU feel about your English.
Any English conversation, unless, of course, you’re doing spoken English self-practice, is a two-way process, and as such it also concerns the other party, the listener.
How does the listener FEEL about YOUR speech?
Do the words and sentences coming out of your mouth help them understand the topic you’re talking about?
Do you pause in between your thoughts so that your listener’s brain can process what they just heard?
Do you engage your listener to confirm that what you just said hammered home instead of just leaving them confused?
All that – and more – needs to happen during any conversation in order for that conversation lead to an effective communication, and just because you can speak for hours non-stop doesn’t mean you are an affective communicator.
So from now on try not to focus so much on negatives – drawbacks of your speech – but instead try and focus more on how your listener or conversation partner feels, and you are guaranteed to be perceived as a fluent English speaker despite the odd hesitation and grammar mistake you may be making!
So now it’s your turn!
Please let me know in your comments if you’ve ever come across some fluent English speaker who, despite their fluency, is lacking in the effective communication department!
P.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out the English Harmony System HERE!