It's hard enough to speak the easy English that will help you in basic situations, but learning to speak fluent English requires patience, time and dedication. It can take several years to reach a level of English that is close to that of a native English speaker. But try not to get discouraged. With some knowledge of the best study techniques and daily practice, you'll gradually improve your English and your confidence in your speaking abilities.
Achieving fluency in English requires daily practice. Start by focusing on improving vocabulary, learning grammar, listening skills and speaking skills. If possible, find someone that you can practice with daily. If you cannot find someone to practice with, make sure that you read things out loud by yourself. It's important to get that speaking practice. You may want to split up your study time throughout the day. Instead of studying for one hour, study for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. This helps you to stay focused.
Augment your practice by watching TV, which allows you to gain experience listening to what real-life English sounds like. American sit-coms are ideal for listening practice. Once you find one that you like, try watching the same episode over and over. As you become used to it, pause the show and try to repeat what the character said. Pay attention to pronunciation and inflection in order to sound more like a native speaker.
Talk with Friends
Practice what you are learning with native English speakers. Having other people to speak English with is essential for building your skill level. Look for friends that you can practice English with. Native English speakers are the best for gaining fluency. If you can, try to find a friend that only speaks English. This will force you to use your English instead of falling back on your native language.
Get to the next level by living in an English-speaking country. Living abroad is one of the best ways to gain fluency in English. When you live abroad, you are immersed in both the language and the culture. Citizens from most countries can spend up to three months in the United States on a tourist visa. You can look for schools that teach English and apply for a student visa. Going through a school can be a big help because the school will typically arrange housing as part of the agreement. Once you're living abroad, go out and use your skills. You won't get any real-life practice sitting in your apartment.
Think in English
Achieve real English fluency by thinking in English. While this takes skill, when you are able to think in English instead of in your native language, you'll know that you've really mastered the language. As you go throughout your day, try to think about what you're doing in English. Don't translate from your native language. Actually use English as a starting point. The more you do this, the closer you will get to fluency.
Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.