What does it mean to be fluent in English? How do you know if YOU can speak English fluently?
First of all, English fluency isn’t an exact or precise thing. But there are ways to decide if you are more, or less fluent.
Here are seven things that you can do when you are fluent. How easy are these things for you? When they’re easy, you know that you can speak English more fluently than before. If they aren’t easy, you’ll know what you should focus on.
1. Speaking English faster
When you first start speaking English, you’re slow, and you hesitate a lot. Sometimes these pauses are long, or very frequent.
As you become more fluent, you hesitate less, and you can speak words and phrases a little faster. (This is what regular speaking practice helps you to do!)
2. Speaking English more automatically
When you’re more fluent, you can also find the words more easily. You don’t have to stop to try to remember the right words. Often the words you need are in phrases: “automatic”, fluency phrases like “You’re welcome”, or “Do you know if…”; or “collocations” (= words that combine naturally) like “have a shower” or “make a mistake”.
Speaking more automatically makes your English faster, because your brain doesn’t need a lot of time to find words and then put them together.
3. Thinking in English
Thinking in English also helps you to speak and reply faster, because you don’t have to translate into your language all the time. You can speak English automatically, and your conversations are easier and feel more natural and immediate.
It’s difficult to think in a different language, so if you can’t do it easily now, try to “switch” between English and your own language more quickly. Switching is when you can move between your language and English like switching on a light or the television. Switching means that it doesn’t feel strange to talk in English.
4. Speaking English for longer
When you’re more fluent in English, you can speak about a range of subjects, for a longer period of time. So instead of one, short sentence, you can talk for two, three or four sentences without lots of pauses.
You find social and “interaction” situations (like talking in shops, restaurants, etc) easier and stress-free.
5. Using conversation strategies
With greater fluency comes greater confidence. An example of this is when you can use conversation strategies, which are ways to help communication.
For example, if you don’t know a word, you can say it in another way, or give a description of the thing you want to say. Or, if you realise that what you say is confusing, you can rephrase it so that the other person understands better. Or you can summarise a conversation, or ask for clarification.
These conversation strategies mean that you play an important role in the conversation.
6. Understanding and replying easily
Fluent English also means that you can understand other people when they speak – and then reply to them. If you don’t understand the other person, then you don’t have very much to say when you reply!
Sometimes, understanding people isn’t just about the words they use. In conversations, we start and stop, we change direction, we go back to what we were saying. So understanding also means that you can make sense of all the times when people didn’t speak clearly or predictably.
7. Feeling confident about speaking English
When you first start speaking English, it’s a really good idea to prepare what you want to say before. You can find the words and expressions you’ll need, and maybe even practise the pronunciation.
But when you’re more fluent, you don’t need to prepare so much. You’re more confident that you know the right words, and you’re more confident that your grammar and pronunciation are also correct.
Speaking English feels more natural to you, and this also shows in how you speak. You’re less likely to speak too quietly, your voice feels stronger, and you don’t hesitate so much.
In fact, without confidence, it’s almost impossible to speak fluently!
The only way to become more fluent and confident in English is through speaking regularly.
You can do this in the English Fluency Club – the place where you’ll transform your English from shy to confident!
* Speaking lessons in small groups mean you have a lot of “speaking time”
* Speaking with international students mean you improve your listening and understanding
* A supportive atmosphere give you the confidence to speak
Join TODAY and get fluent in English – click the button below!