Why Are We Always Trying to Speak Too Fast in English?

By Robby

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Video Transcript Below:

Hi guys, hello boys and girls, hello my dear fellow foreign English speakers and welcome back to Robby’s English Harmony video blog!

Today guys I wanted to share something with you. A revelation that I had when I was driving in the car to college this morning, right? As it always happens I was speaking with myself practicing my spoken English. As you may know by now that’s how I roll, that’s how I maintain a high standard of my English fluency.

And I was thinking about the fact that so many of us foreigners are trying to speak too fast, okay? And it’s a mistake number one that I come across time and time again whenever I start teaching a new batch of Fluency Star students I witness the same thing again and again. People are trying to speak too fast, okay?

And I’ve written about it in the past, obviously years ago I wrote a blog post about not comparing yourself with others. And back then I knew only too well that the desire to speak just like the other person does is the biggest pitfall for you guys, right? That’s when you start comparing yourself with the other person and that’s what brings about all these fluency issues. If you didn’t have the comparison in place and you only focused on your own performance, it would be so much easier, so much better to maintain your fluency and to work on your spoken  English, right?

Reason #1: Comparing Yourself With the Other Person

So that’s why I wrote this article and that’s why I warmly suggest you never compare yourself with other speakers. Obviously we are all human and it will happen at some stage but just bear in mind that you don’t have to be so much focused on the other person, rather focus on yourself.

And then I wrote an article and obviously you can click on the links right here as I mention those articles, you can click on the links as they appear in this video and it will take you to my blog where you’ll be able to read about those things, right?

And this second blog post I want you to read is about the importance of slowing your speech down. Because what happens is when you compare yourself with the other person and the other person, especially if they happen to be a native English speaker, obviously they speak quite fast.

Well, not everyone, right? Bear that in mind, not all native English speakers are very fast speakers. And as a matter of fact, I’ve known a good few native English speakers who speak quite slowly. There’s plenty of people out there that are known to everyone, some celebrities, actors, native English speakers who speak very slowly, you know.

So just because you aim to become just like a native English speaker, doesn’t necessarily mean that automatically you have to aim to speed up your speech, right? But normally when we hear a native English speaker speak, they would be speaking somewhat faster than you and then the comparison kicks in and then you automatically assume that you have to match their type of speech.

You know, match the speed of their speech. And that’s when all those fluency issues happen because you start stumbling upon words, you can’t string a sentence together because your mouth is trying to speak too fast for your brain to catch up.

So that’s a very, very terrible issue and I witness so many foreign English speakers make the same mistake on a daily basis, right? Wherever I go, wherever I get to communicate with some foreigners, a lot of people do that, you know.

And up until today I hadn’t actually realized what other factor there is at play, okay? I only thought that there’s this comparison and then you want to speak just as fast as the other one because we don’t want to sound stupid. We are all human beings and as such we’re quite what’s the word for it? Arrogant.

When we see someone perform at a certain level we kind of deep down inside we don’t want to perform worse. We have this fear of looking stupid if we don’t perform on par with that person or whatever.

Reason #2: Fear Of Not Being Understood!

But I hadn’t realized that there’s another factor. And probably deep down inside what happens is when you speak slower than the other person, you may not be aware of it but you may be kind of thinking at a subconscious level that the other person won’t be able to understand you.

They won’t be able to follow your speech if you don’t reciprocate with the same kind of speech, if you don’t respond at the same speed, quite subconsciously you may have the impression that they won’t be able to follow you. And that’s maybe one of the reasons why so many people are trying to match the speed of speech of that of their conversation partners.

And it may sound like no big deal but it is very important for the following reason, right? In case you’re struggling with it, in case you are trying to speak somewhat slower but you still kind of can’t manage it. You may be feeling that you are trying to speaking too fast against your will or whatever. Maybe this is the factor that this is going to serve as an eye-opener for you and you will realize, wow, seriously, there’s no need for me to speak too fast because the other person will still understand me!

And it may sound very simplistic, some of you may think “hold on Robby, surely it’s not going to be like that. Surely, just by you telling yourself the other person will understand you even if you speak slower, surely, that will not be the make or break factor in your English fluency improvement routine, right?”

Well, it might not be but for some of you guys this could turn out to be the thing that actually helps you to slow down your speech and helps you to keep your fluency in check.

So to recap today’s video, the revelation that I had was that I realized that for some us it is probably very difficult to speak somewhat slower just because we may feel at a subconscious level as if we have to match the speed of the conversation partner because they won’t be able to understand us.

And from the evolutionary point of view – I actually like drawing these parallels between everything that happens these days and what happened back in the caveman era because I’m a strong believer in all things evolutionary. It makes an awful lot of sense.

It All Makes Sense From the Evolutionary Point of View!

So from the evolutionary standpoint it makes an awful lot of sense that we would try and reciprocate the other person’s speech.

Because for instance if you meet a person from another tribe and they don’t speak your language or your dialect or whatever, they won’t be able to understand you.

Therefore you would have to find a compromise and kind of speak the same way like both of you. And the speed is also a factor that comes into the equation. You’d have to adjust the speed of speech, so basically both parties of the conversation would have to try and speak equally, right? Equally as fast or as slow as the other person.

And that’s why I strongly believe that speed of speech is something that we subconsciously almost try to emulate because it makes sense from the evolutionary standpoint.

Also Your Native Background Could Be a Reason!

And also I’d like to point out that there are certain nationalities such as for instance Spanish people or Italians who are speaking very fast in their native languages. And that might be another factor that only now crossed my mind!

I hadn’t even thought about it even though I knew about that, I didn’t kind of put the two and two together. It’s funny how sometimes all these facts are available for us but we just don’t make the connection, the simple connection which also makes an awful lot of sense.

If your native language demands that you to speak very fast and it’s a natural thing to you, then obviously when you speak in English you also try to emulate the same speed of speech. And that’s another factor why it might be very difficult for you to slow down a bit and you have to make that extra effort to make your speech somewhat slower.

But it definitely will help if you slow down because just like I said in the beginning of this video, it’s still the #1 mistake that so many foreigners make, right?

So if you have any questions my friends, please feel free to publish them in the comment section below. And chat to you soon. Bye bye!


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!

English Harmony System

P.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out the English Harmony System HERE!

English Harmony System