How can I improve my English skills from advanced to truly fluent?

English Language

Improving my English skills from advanced to truly fluent

Posted 19 April

If you’re looking to acquire excellent English language skills, Galway Cultural Institute offers a huge selection of English courses to help you achieve your goal.

Students from around the globe attend Galway Cultural Institute in Ireland to learn general English and often want to become fluent in oral and written English.  Our mission is to ensure you join the growing list of successful students who graduate with excellent English language skills.

You may have already completed one of our comprehensive modules to learn general English, via one of our General English classes or perhaps one of our General English evening courses  and are looking to take the next step. At Galway Cultural Institute you will find a course to suit your needs.

What is advanced English?

If you’re able to engage in fluent English conversation you’ve all but mastered the language at its highest level. While not completely fluent, being able to use advanced English means you are an extremely capable English speaker.

Advanced English shows you’ve developed a high degree of competence with the language:

  • general English grammar presents no problems
  • you can read and understand texts
  • you are able to engage in lengthy conversations on a variety of subjects
  • you can confidently hold your own during everyday activities

At Galway Cultural Institute we can help you learn excellent English language skills and become competent with this in-depth, high level of language. With our help you will reach a standard acceptable to many universities and prospective employers, often realised in obtaining the ‘Cambridge English Advanced Exam Preparation – C1 Level’ which is crucial to your future development and success.

How does advanced English compare to fluent English?

In very simple terms, being completely fluent means you will have an in-depth knowledge of a language coupled with the ability to vocalise and present that knowledge in thought or writing with ease.

To give you an example of the difference between advanced English and fluency: while advanced English is acceptable to gain entry to university or employment, complete fluency means you can work or study at the highest business or academic level, such as a doctorate or management grade environment.

It means you are able to:

  • interact and use the language in a sophisticated, confident manner
  • possess a wide vocabulary
  • have knowledge of local expressions and idioms
  • make very few errors whether you are engaging in light conversation or talking or writing about something deeply technical and detailed

In short, you will have the same grasp of the complexities and nuances of the language as a native English speaker.

Class at Galway Business School Campus

Class at Galway Business School Campus

How long does it take to become fluent at English?

This can vary and as with most things it is often down to you, the student, and how much time and effort you are prepared to invest in learning. How far you immerse yourself in English culture and surround yourself with the language is often key to your development – immersion is a terrific language learning method, where English becomes part of your daily life.

Other factors include your starting level of competency in English, and what course you undertake to help achieve your goal. You may want to undertake a general English course online, or in a classroom/real-life based environment. Here at Galway Cultural Institute we will support you on your journey to fluency, and whatever your circumstances we offer a wide range of courses and modules at various levels to get you where you want to be.

How can I improve my English proficiency?

There are typically four skills of English language to concentrate on in order to improve your proficiency and attain fluency:

  • Speaking– when talking, can you use local expressions, idioms and even a specific dialect? Is your pronunciation perfect? Can you maintain a conversation comfortably? Do you understand jokes and local humour? If you practise language immersion in Ireland all of this will be incredibly helpful to you.
  • Writing– are you able to produce written pieces at various levels, from a simple email to a lengthy official report? Are you comfortable with grammar structure and tenses? Do you have an expansive written vocabulary and a high level of spelling competence?
  • Listening– are you able to understand regional accents and dialects? Do you sing along to English music with ease? Can you understand dialogue and plot points in American movies?
  • Reading– do you spend time reading books in English? Reading English subtitles while watching films in your native language? Do you study lyrics from English bands, or those that sing in English? Are you able to subscribe to any magazines or websites that are produced in English?

These four areas of English are incredibly important to master if you wish to be recognised as having excellent English language skills. We expand on each section below, where you can pick up some useful hints and tips to reach your goal of true fluency in English.

Tips to improve your English speaking skills

The ability to speak English is one of the two ‘Productive Skills’ for the language. As English is the lingua franca of the world, at the Institute we understand how important it is that you reach fluency in order to develop and ultimately achieve success in your chosen field.

To improve your English speaking skills:

  • Try to think in English as often as possible. You’ll soon find that when you think in English it becomes easier to speak the language. You won’t need to mentally translate what you want to say before you say it.
  • Talk. As often as possible. With family, friends, people in the street or local store. Even to yourself in the mirror! This can include voicing your thoughts, or reading out loud from a book or magazine, or even the ingredients on a tin of food. Everything helps. This is how to learn advanced English vocabulary!
  • Practise. And keep practising. Every day, even if it’s just for ten minutes. Download a language app to help you. Listen to English podcasts on a commute and copy the words and sentences. Immersion is key, and surrounding yourself with English speakers is important to maintain your level of proficiency.
  • Be happy to make mistakes. It’s the only way you will learn. Don’t forget: native English speakers often make mistakes too!
  • Listen and repeat. Listen to other people, to movies, to radio broadcasts and TV shows and anything that is in English – then try the words and sentences for yourself.
  • Sing! Join in with English songs. This is a trusted and scientifically-supported method of becoming more proficient with the language. Rap, Taylor Swift, even some death metal – anything that gets you using English.
  • Create a ‘store’ of regular phrases and sayings. This means you will never be short of things to say.

Record yourself. Play them back, checking for mistakes in grammar or pronunciation

Tips to improve your English writing skills

The second of the ‘Productive Skills, writing is an important part of your journey to English fluency. It can be a little more difficult to master due to the greater depth of knowledge of the language that is required. There are rules for punctuation, grammar, spelling and sentence structure that need to be learned and followed.

To improve your English writing skills:

  • Become an expert at spelling. Create flash cards, test yourself regularly. Understand that poor spelling can change the meaning of your sentence and confuse people.
  • More practise. Draft some emails, write a comprehensive review of a TV show, or craft a letter to a family member. All of this will help you.
  • Keep an English dictionary to hand, or as an app on your phone. Read it, learn new words and phrases then write them down.
  • Read! Reading regularly means you can learn about writing styles, how sentences and paragraphs flow, general English grammar and how words fit together.
  • Keep a blog or diary. Write your thoughts, reflect on your language journey. This will help you learn and grow, because you can constantly edit and revise your entries or posts.
  • Expand and maintain your vocabulary.
GCI Student & Teacher

GCI Student & Teacher

Tips to improve your English listening skills

Listening is one of the two ‘Receptive Skills’, where you will receive English input and need to process then understand it. Good listening can improve your pronunciation, your general understanding of English, and your overall confidence with the language. English is widely spoken and you will often be surrounded by it in conversation, advertising, music and more – so make the most of the opportunity to absorb all that you can.

To improve your English listening skills:

  • Listen to other people’s conversations. You might be on a bus, in a queue, or enjoying two radio DJs chatting. Overhearing a conversation is often a fun, interesting way to learn how English people talk, the rhythms of their voices and the expressions they use.
  • Music. Play your favourite English songs on repeat. Mimic the lyrics, sing if you want. Watch lots of American movies, listen to the dialogue and quote them at your friends. The same goes for TV shows in English.
  • Subscribe to an English podcast. Listen to it several times a week. Repeat a particular show if you want, and learn the phrases and sentences they use.
  • Record your practise sessions on your phone and play them back to yourself. Listen intently for any mistakes then correct them.
  • Relax. You won’t understand everything at first. Practise, and take your time to absorb as much as you can.

Tips to improve your English reading skills

Reading is the second of the ‘Receptive Skills’. Having strong reading skills means you will be able to understand and find meaning in every single thing that you read, be it a novel, a letter or a short email from a friend.

It will help you with your vocabulary, and improve your ability to communicate using written English. It also helps with your reading comprehension skills – how proficient you are at understanding what you are reading.

To improve your English reading skills:

  • Immerse yourself in English culture, including music, film, TV shows and books. Use subtitles while you watch television. Study song lyrics, social media posts and blogs or online magazines.
  • Set aside some time to read each and every day. Practise, practise, practise. Only by keeping up your daily routine will you improve your reading skills.
  • English word-based games are perfect. Download them on your phone or play them online on a laptop. Words with Friends and Scrabble are ideal for this kind of exercise.
  • Use a notebook to jot down any expressions or phrases you find interesting or funny, or that you can add to your ‘stock’ of sayings – then read them regularly.
  • Have a reading goal. Set yourself a target to read, say, a collection of short stories by the end of the month. Then branch out to technical manuals, or cookery books, or anything that will help broaden your reading material, increase your vocabulary and general English grammar plus your understanding of the English language.
  • Make notes while you read. Highlight passages in books or magazines. Practise saying the words yourself. And keep practising!

At Galway Cultural Institute we provide excellent support to students seeking to improve their English skills. If you’re looking to spend an unforgettable summer with us we run an afternoon English summer course guaranteed to increase your fluency, while our General English Online module provides a relaxed, hybrid course of online and face to face lessons spread over 20, 26 or 30 lessons a week. We have a raft of English language courses to suit all levels of ability.

Galway is the perfect place to learn English and experience the best that Ireland has to offer. Choose it as your base when looking to study abroad for work, travel or pleasure.

Study in the heart of Galway, Ireland

Since 1989, Galway Cultural Institute has provided English language programmes to students from all over the world - in fact, we have welcomed people from more than 30 countries.

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