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Personally I’ve been living in an English speaking country for ten years now, and during this time I’ve gone from a struggling to a fluent English speaker.
Has living in an English speaking country helped me to achieve spoken English fluency?
Well, there’s no doubt about that!
Has being part of an English speaking society been the crucial element in the process of my fluency acquisition? Would I never have achieved my current level of English fluency if not speaking with native English speakers for hours day in, day out?
Well… I’m not so sure of that. You see, I haven’t always worked among English speakers, and I’ve also spent quite some time out of work. But did I stop improving my English skills during those times? No way! There’s plenty of ways you can improve your spoken English skills without living in an English speaking country, so let’s analyze the importance of being part of an English speaking society and its impact on your fluency.
What Makes a Fluent English Speaker?
I’m sure we all know foreigners whose English is excellent even though they’ve spent their whole life in their home country with very little exposure to natural English speaking environment.
Personally I know a Latvian girl who arrived to Ireland a few months ago, and despite having never lived in an English speaking country before, she landed a job in a cell phone shop. The next thing I heard, she was promoted to a shop manager’s position, and I guess I don’t have to be telling you that her spoken English skills played a significant role in the recruitment and career growth process.
I’m also quite sure that on every such foreigner there are ten other foreigners who find themselves struggling with English fluency just because they’ve been following the traditional education guidelines. Too much focus on the written word and writing – and the end result is an individual who’s unable to maintain a fluent English conversation just because he or she keeps preparing speech in their head before actually speaking it out.
I could tell you of at least a half a dozen job interviews I’ve blown over the years while I struggled with my English fluency, and it all happened despite having lived in Ireland for years.
So much for being part of an English speaking society, ah?
Surprisingly, it took me years to figure the simple truth that in order to speak English fluently, one needs to spend most of their time learning the English language while being engaged in speech related activities ❗
It’s not so much about WHERE you’re based in terms of your geographical location.
If you’re willing enough, if you possess lots of willpower and you persist with your spoken English practice, you can achieve English fluency having never actually spoken to a native English speaker face-to-face.
Of course, if you live in an English speaking country and speak in English with natives all the time, you’ll find it an awful lot easier to reach that stage of your spoken English improvement when you think and speak English fluently.
But that’s not the point I was trying to make here.
What I was trying to do here is – I was trying to make you arrive to a conclusion that SPEAKING is the crucial factor that makes a foreigner a fluent English speaker!
No matter WHERE you are and WHO you speak with, it’s going to contribute into your English fluency improvement. To heck, you can even spend your evenings shadowing DVD sets of popular TV dramas and then following it up with some spoken English self-practicing – and I bet it’s going to make you into a quite a capable foreign English speaker!
Does Being Part of English Speaking Society
Give You The Edge?
Sure it does!
I’ve experienced most of my spoken English improvement in the last few years during which I’ve spent 8 hours every day speaking English with native English speakers at work. Anything I’ve been practicing with myself, any new words and phrases I may have learnt – I can try it all out in real life during real conversations!
And of course, we can’t underestimate the importance of having an English speaking friend – it’s really an invaluable asset for any foreign English speaker to have. I have a friend at work, and it’s given me thousands of opportunities over the three-year span to talk about any imaginable matter – starting from politics, and ending with discussing rock-bands and the fact that modern mainstream rock music is rather on the soft side.
Surely the most effective and most natural way of immersing yourself into the English language is speaking with other English speakers as much as possible, and I can only agree with this notion ❗
However, the reason why I’m writing this article isn’t to discourage you from improving your English while living in a foreign country.
Yes, it’s going to be tough, but IT IS POSSIBLE.
You can find a hundred reasons why NOT to improve your English, but all it takes is a little bit of determination and consistency to see significant improvement to your English fluency over a longer period of time.
Read this blog post I wrote about passive ways of achieving English immersion.
And here’s an article I wrote about active English immersion.
By the way, those articles just scratch the surface of the activities a foreign English speaker can engage into, and it just goes to show how much you can do to improve your spoken English even if you don’t live in an English speaking country and you’re not part of an English speaking society.
Believe it or not, speaking with other English speakers is only ONE OF ways you can achieve full English immersion – just read those two articles above and you’ll get the drift.
Here’s the bottom line.
Yes, living among other English speakers you’ll have a definite advantage over those who have to go the extra mile to immerse themselves in English.
Yes, speaking with other English speakers all day long for months and years will take your English to the next level and make you really comfortable when communicating with others.
All the aforementioned, however, shouldn’t deter you from working on your English fluency while living in your home country or having limited access to other English speakers.
You can achieve high fluency levels by:
- speaking English with yourself
- chatting with English speakers online
- reading English fiction
- shadowing English movies and TV series
- learning song lyrics and singing along
… and this list is not exhaustive by a long shot, my dear foreign English speaking friends!
P.S. Would you like to find out why I’mÂ highlightingÂ 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!