Do you want to learn how to speak English well?
Are you also looking for a shortcut to English fluency?
We don’t have tricks that will give you perfect English in five minutes a day.
But we do have solid tips that will help you learn how to speak English more fluently, in less time.
Here are some tips that will help you speak English better than ever.
How to Speak English Well: 16 Simple Tips to Extraordinary Fluency
1. Accept That English Is a Weird Language
Sometimes you can find patterns in English grammar, but other times English doesn’t make sense at all. For example, why are “read” (reed) and “read” (red) the same word, but pronounced differently depending on whether you’re speaking in the past or present tense? Or why is “mice” the plural of “mouse,” but “houses” is the plural of “house”?
Unfortunately, there are just as many exceptions as there are rules in English. It’s easy to get stuck on learning how to speak English properly, if you try to find a reason for everything. Sometimes English is weird and inexplicable, so instead the best thing to do is just memorize the strange exceptions and move on.
2. Dive into the Deep End
Studying English for an hour once a week isn’t usually enough to make any real progress. The best way to quickly improve your English is to spend at least a few minutes practicing every day. Immerse yourself as much as possible every time you study, and challenge yourself to listen to, read and even say things in English that you think might be too difficult for you. If you want to speak English fluently, you need to make it an essential part of your everyday life.
3. Stop Being a Student
The right attitude can make the difference between failure and success. Stop thinking of yourself as someone who is learning English, and start thinking of yourself as someone who speaks English. It’s a small change, but it will make you feel more confident and help you to use the English you already know more effectively.
This also means you need to start thinking in English. If you want to say the word “apple” in English, for example, right now you probably think of the word in your native language first, and then try to think of the correct word in English. Instead, try imagining a picture of an apple, and then just think the English word “apple.” Real fluency happens when you stop mentally translating conversations.
4. Remember the Answer Is in the Question
Listen carefully when someone asks you a question in English and you’ll answer perfectly every time. English questions are like mirrors:
Does he…..? Yes, he does.
Can she….? Yes, she can.
Is it….? Yes, it is.
If someone asks you a question and you’re not sure how to answer, start by thinking about the words used in the question. The person has already said most of the words you need to make your answer. Instead of just memorizing English grammar, start to look for patterns like this one. There are a lot of simple ways to “cheat” and make it easier to remember the right words.
5. Get More out of Listening
When most students listen to a native English-speaker, they focus on understanding what all the words mean. This is definitely important, but there is a lot more you can learn from listening. Try listening not just to what the words mean, but to how the person says them. Notice which words the person links together in a sentence, or when they say “ya” instead of “you.” Try to remember these details the next time you speak and your English will begin to sound more natural.
Easier said than done, right? When you listen to native English speakers, it can be hard to understand every single word that is spoken. They might use many words you don’t know, talk too fast or have a strong accent.
A fantastic way to practice careful, active listening is to start using FluentU. FluentU has a huge collection of real world English videos, so you can hear the English that people speak every day.
Once you’re there, how you learn is entirely up to you. While browsing our hundreds of awesome videos, you’ll have the freedom to choose which ones are most relevant to your personal learning experience.
The more you listen to this authentic English, the better you will understand how to speak English naturally.
And FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. How? There are interactive captions. In other words, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, if you tap on the word “brought,” then you see this:
You can learn any video’s vocabulary with FluentU. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The coolest part? FluentU knows the vocabulary that you’re learning. It uses your vocabulary to recommend you examples and videos. You have a truly personalized experience.
You can even save all the words you learned and keep track of your progress. Keep practicing with these videos, and you will see great improvement in your ability to understand and speak native level English.
6. Use It or Lose It
There’s an expression in English: “Use it or lose it,” which basically means if you don’t practice an ability, you might forget it. This idea can be used to help you remember new English vocabulary. The best way to remember a new word is to use it right away so it will stay in your memory. When you learn a new word, try to say it in sentences a few times over the next week and you’ll never forget it.
7. Learn and Study Phrases
Speaking English fluently means being able to express your thoughts, feelings and ideas. Your goal is to speak English in full sentences, so why not learn it in full sentences? You’ll find that English is more useful in your everyday life if you study whole phrases, rather than just vocabulary and verbs. Start by thinking about phrases that you use frequently in your native language, and then learn how to say them in English.
8. Don’t Study Grammar Too Much
The key to learning a language is finding a balance between studying and practicing. Speaking English fluently isn’t the same as knowing perfect English grammar—even native English-speakers make grammar mistakes! Fluency is about being able to communicate. That’s why sometimes it’s important to put the grammar textbook away, so you can go out and practice those writing, reading, listening and speaking skills in the real world.
9. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
Sometimes it can be difficult to put all those rules and words together into a simple sentence. Don’t let the fear of saying something wrong stop you from speaking at all. Even if you think you’re making a mistake, keep speaking anyway. Most of the time, people will understand what you’re trying to say, even if you make a mistake. Plus, the more you speak, the easier it gets, and the faster the right words will come to mind.
10. Learn from Everyone
You don’t have to only learn English from textbooks and teachers—anyone who speaks English can help you practice. Imagine how you would feel if someone asked you, in your native language, how to pronounce something? Would you be angry? No! You’d probably be happy to help, just like most English speakers are happy to help you. If you know any English speakers, whether it’s a friend or co-worker, take advantage of the opportunity to practice and learn from them.
11. Use Speech-to-text for all (English) Text Messaging
You can practice English speaking even when you’re texting people. Just speak your texts instead of typing them! You may need to change your settings to enable speech-to-text first. Then, find the “speech” option on whatever keyboard you’re using. Often, you just need to tap a microphone icon on the right side of the keyboard. Start speaking, and your words appear on the screen. No one hears you talk, but you still get practice. Pretty good deal, huh?
But what if most of your communication is with friends and family in your native language? Microsoft Translator has a way around this. Check to see if your native language is included in Microsoft’s Conversations feature. If it is, you can speak out loud in English, and have your words automatically translated into text in your native language. Your chat partner can speak in your native language, and have their words show up for you in English. This way, you get English speaking (and reading) practice while having the conversations you would be having anyway.
12. Record Your Own English-language Audiobooks
How do you speak English fluently and confidently? When we think of practicing a language, we often think of putting ourselves in situations where we have to use the language. But the truth is, a lot of confidence and fluency comes from actually speaking. This technique can help you do a lot more of that.
Think about your favorite books. Even if you don’t have any favorite books that were written in English, you can probably find some in English translation. For example, the Harry Potter series has been sold all over the world. Take any English-language book that you already enjoy, and record yourself reading it in English. This will take you a while, of course. But it will give you a way to practice your English pronunciation every day in a way that’s fun and interesting for you. Once you finish recording the book, you’ll have a homemade audiobook of it to listen to, which will give you a way to practice your listening skills, too.
13. Record Yourself Reading Material That You Want to Learn, Then Listen to It Throughout Your Day
Use the same technique described above to learn English in general while also practicing your speech. For example, let’s say that you’d like to get better at talking to waitstaff. Maybe you see a FluentU post that includes examples of English conversations to have in restaurants. Instead of just reading the post and trying to remember the examples, record yourself reading it! This will give you multiple opportunities to remember the material: when you first read it, when you read it out loud and when you listen to yourself reading it later.
14. Talk Yourself Through Processes
Think about all the things you might do that have a beginning, a middle and an end. For example, following a recipe when cooking dinner, or putting together a piece of furniture. These processes are opportunities to improve your English speaking skills. Write out instructions for a process in English on a piece of paper. Make it as simple as possible and number your steps. For cooking something, your instructions might start like this:
- Peel the garlic.
- Dice the garlic.
- Peel the onions.
- Slice the onions.
Once you have your instructions, follow them. In the meantime, say what you’re doing out loud. For example, “Now I’m cutting up the onions. Uh oh, my eyes are starting to water!” Your instructions are a kind of “cheat sheet” to help you along the way. They will help you talk continuously, without having to stop and think about what to do next.
15. Memorize Conversation Starters (and Use Them!)
You might miss out on opportunities to practice English speaking if you just can’t think of anything to say. An easy solution to this is to memorize conversation starters, or ideas for beginning conversations. You can find lots of these online. For example, here’s a list of 250 conversation starters from Conversation Starters World.
Of course, you wouldn’t want to use all of these at any time. It would probably seem weird if you just walked up to someone and said, “What three words best describe you?” But memorizing some ideas will help you feel better about talking to people in casual situations. You can also use these to keep conversations going when talking to exchange partners.
16. Share Your Opinions Online
To really learn English speaking, you need to learn how to express yourself in English. Even if you have ideas for conversations, it can be hard to know how to put them into your own words. But you can practice this by participating in conversations online. Posting on social media, leaving comments on articles or writing reviews are all good approaches.
Goodreads is a site where people leave their thoughts about books they’ve read. Writing about books and movies is always a nice way to practice sharing your opinions in English, because they give you a lot to think about! But if you don’t have time to do this, there are simpler options: Watch a short video on YouTube and leave a comment underneath it. Post short opinions on Twitter about anything. There are many options for practicing your English skills before you speak it out loud!
Other Resources for Learning to Speak English Fluently
We’ve seen a lot of English learning products out there, but we really like this one. It’s not a normal English learning course. Instead, it’s a whole new approach to learning English. What makes the course great is the author, the famous polyglot Benny Lewis. He has many years of experience quickly learning and mastering multiple languages. He shows you the shortcuts and techniques that he’s learned over the years.
“Don’t think, just speak”—a great, motivational video that explains well the rationale behind focusing on speaking rather than thinking.
The English Speaking Practice app
This app lets you practice having basic conversations in English. It’s really simple to use! Just choose a subject that you want to hear a conversation about. Then, listen to the conversation. After that, you can take a quiz to test your understanding, or use the “Record” tab to practice speaking. Decide which person in the conversation to speak for, and go through the dialogue talking as them. You can then save the recording and play it back.
The SayHi translation app
This is a simple voice translation app that you can use to have bilingual conversations. However, you can also use it as a quick way to look up translations or to practice speaking, as long as the app has an option for your native language. Set up the translator for a conversation between English and your native language. Then, try speaking English and see how your English translates. This will give you an idea of how well the app understands your English speech.
Also, if you ever forget how to say something in English, you can speak your native language into the mic and see how it translates into English. This can be much faster than using a dictionary!
American superhero movies and TV
Watching English-language movies and TV in general is a good way to get used to natural speech. American superhero movies and TV are especially great for learning English because they’re meant to appeal to a wide audience, sometimes including children. This means that it’s usually pretty easy to figure out what’s going on. Another reason why superhero stories are easier to understand is because they tend to be very dramatic and emotional. Characters will often talk about what’s happening in a very loud and obvious way.
While there’s a lot to choose from, a good way to start is with some of the CW network shows that are available on Netflix, like “Supergirl,” and “Black Lightning.” These shows have a lot of talking in them, and focus a lot on relationships between characters. You can keep up with them for multiple seasons and become used to the way different characters talk to each other, all while being entertained by exciting story lines.
The English TV YouTube channel
This YouTube channel has a bunch of videos that you can use to hear different types of English speech and conversation. For example, this “Everyday Life” conversation practice video includes a dialogue about a sick child who can’t go to school.
The audio in these videos tends to be spoken more slowly and clearly than English normally is, but the language itself is realistic. It will help build your listening skills so that you can understand English speech in real life at a faster pace.
Loecsen Learn English
This is a free online English course with a big focus on speaking. To practice your English speaking, scroll down to “Start a new quiz.” You’ll then be able to choose from different lists of phrases that you can listen to and repeat. When you repeat a phrase using the microphone on your computer, you get to see if the program is able to understand your speech. This is useful even if you already know the material in the lessons, because you get a chance to speak English out loud and practice your pronunciation.
If you’re wondering how to improve your English speaking skills, there isn’t one easy answer. Learning how to speak English fluently isn’t something that happens overnight. Because of this, it’s important to have tools and techniques ready for practicing every day. Ultimately, if you have activities that you enjoy and that require you to speak English, your skills will improve more and more over time.
Try the resources and suggestions above, and pay attention to how they make you feel. Which ones help your confidence? Which ones seem to help you speak English over longer periods of time? Use the methods that work for you, and your speaking will come together naturally.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.