GCI Blog

English Language

How to Speak Fluent English

Posted 10 December

How to Speak Fluent English

How to Speak Fluent English

"English has become the global language of business, sport, entertainment and the internet..."

From the beginning, it is important to understand that English does not behave like many languages. Yes, it is a language of Germanic origin and therefore easier for most Northern Europeans to learn as they recognise many of the grammatical structures and vocabulary. It also contains thousands of everyday words of French origin plus various vocabulary items from many other cultures, for example, in relation to food. On top of this, English has become the global language of business, sport, entertainment and the internet; hence the growing numbers of people around the world who can identify a song or even a famous line from a movie, and often imitate them. Indeed, many international stars can be heard speaking or performing in English."English has become the global language of business, sport, entertainment and the internet..."

“For these reasons alone, it suggests that the language is indeed accessible to most, and relevant to today’s Global economy and multi-cultural communication."

How to Speak Fluent English

How to Speak Fluent English

I will briefly look at key challenges that students face when learning to speak English fluently throughout this article. If learners are prepared to overcome these, they are far more likely to sound fluent, making the learning process feel more natural, enjoyable and ultimately, effective.

Love to learn

It goes without saying that most English learners would like to speak English well. The idea of being able to communicate in English fluently is exciting and indeed, motivating. However, learners need to embrace the learning process itself, and that includes accepting the difficulties. To be as successful as possible, learners need to enjoy learning. This approach helps an individual to access more opportunities at a professional, academic and personal level, enabling the learner to function in a variety of activities that they would normally do when using their first language.

"“Students need to immerse themselves in situations where they clearly understand and recognise what they are learning, practice it, and then use it when the relevant opportunities arise."

Good examples would be Job interviews, social events, Cambridge and IELTS speaking tests. Many of the words, phrases and structures that students encounter are not always from a course book. It is often the case that they hear chunks of language in a real world scenario which they can contextualize quite easily, which in turn facilitates the learning process with more technical examination at school or during study. Immersion learning overseas presents the willing learner with more real world language than in their native countries, which allows them to study, practice and then reuse it regularly in that location. Using the following, learners can then fine tune many aspects of their speaking.

• Learning/checking new words from a dictionary for meaning, pronunciation and contextual use

• Reading/writing English sentences and thinking about their structure and aspect (tense)

• Practicing the pronunciation of English sounds and words

• Identifying the varying opaque nature of some phrasal verbs and idioms by trying to contextualize or if in doubt, checking.

• Last but not least, using the language in free practice or ideally, real world situations.


How to Speak Fluent English

How to Speak Fluent English

Learning to accept pronunciation and spelling

Although learners are familiar with many of the English words that they hear every day, the transition between reading or writing them and speaking them is often confusing, and can certainly cause them difficulties throughout their learning experience. Learners choose to learn English for many reasons, some need it to travel, some for work, or some to achieve their Academic objectives such as the IELT’s speaking examination and increasingly, postgraduate courses.

“One obvious difficulty that all learners face is the spelling system of English."

The spelling of many words often does not equate to the sound they hear being pronounced or have to pronounce. This can be quite confusing for those whose languages are spoken exactly as they are spelt. English often uses words from other languages and pronounces them as they would be by native speakers. Examples of these loan words are menu, pizza, sushi. English sounds can often behave differently according to the word they are contained within. Examples are; ripe and rip, where the I sound is clearly not the same. Learners also need to be prepared to deal with homophones and understand that although these words sound exactly alike, they have different meanings in the context of a sentence. Common examples of these would be their, there and they’re. And of course, there are silent letters, which clearly highlight the disparity between sound and spelling. Once a learner accepts these differences, he or she is on the way to a far more rewarding learning process.

How to Speak Fluent English

How to Speak Fluent English

Listening to authentic English leads to fluency

Listening to native English speakers presents many challenges such as accent, pace, contracted and connected speech to regional dialect and indeed, slang. Add in phrasal verbs or idioms and it sounds very challenging. Do not worry! If in doubt ask the speaker to repeat a phrase or word, try to mimic it and if you can remember it, write it down and then study it. It is not advisable to try and translate every word as English may have a different structure. Instead, listen for the speaker’s intonation and key words stressed, this is where you will discover the real meaning and intention. A good listener will start to notice certain language being used repeatedly in similar contexts, then try to use it themselves when the opportunity arises. This production will help the learner to develop more natural sounding rhythm and intonation.


“The more authentic the experience, the more memorable the language will be."

From a more passive perspective, listen to the radio and TV in English, especially if you are overseas. These offer an insight into the cultural and social interests of the region and help you identify language currently trending. This can help you to participate in interesting conversation with native speakers where you can express opinions and preferences more fluently.

Consider speaking English an enjoyable past-time. Take every opportunity to pursue this hobby when travelling, working and socialising with native speakers, and those who have chosen the same path in life learning.