Four Steps To Improving Your Fluency

Mar 27, 2024By Michael C Durrant
Michael C Durrant

One of the challenges for anyone learning a new language is how to reach their desired level of fluency. In today's blog post, we will explore some strategies and useful tips that will help you boost your fluency. 

1. Use the S.M.A.R.T System

Hand writing on chalkboard, smart goal setting concept, smart acronym and definition

When thinking about your language goals, it is very useful to use the S.M.A.R.T. approach - be specific about what your goal is; break your goal down into measurable milestone tasks so you can measure your progress; decide on what you can achieve based on how much time you have to focus on learning; is the task relevant to your goal; set yourself a time or deadline by which you want to achieve your goal. Let's look at an example using the S.M.A.R.T. approach. 

SPECIFICI want to reach conversational fluency in English                         

MEASURABLEI want to learn 50 new everyday words and phrases and complete one grammar task per week                                                                                                   

ACHIEVABLEI can only spend 30 minutes a day learning, so I'll learn 10 new words in those 30 minutes                                                                                                                     

RELEVANT: I'll focus on everyday topics and watch short YouTube English videos on  everyday conversations                                                                                                                 

TIMEI'll be able to have everyday conversations in English within 6 months

Of course, how you organise your S.M.A.R.T. goals depends on what your overall objective is. But taking some time to think about each of these areas can help you to focus on what you want to achieve and guide your learning. Have your S.M.A.R.T. goals on the very first page of your English learning journal so you can refer to them.

2. Immerse Yourself in the Language

Young male software programmer testing a new app with 3d virtual reality glasses in office.

One of the best ways, if not the best way to master a language is to live it. One of the ways we learnt our mother language was because we were constantly surrounded by people using it. We heard it every day, picked up words, phrases, expressions, sounds, rhythms, meanings, etc. which helped us learn. Of course, when it comes to learning a foreign language, not everyone has the opportunity to be surrounded by native speakers, so what are your options? Watching English-language TV shows and movies is a great way to hear language used in context through character dialogues. Another option is to find podcasts and YouTube channels on topics that you are interested in. Most podcasts tend to be conversational mixed in with vocabulary connected to the topic, so you can really pick up a lot of language you can use to talk about your interests. And, of course, as you watch and and listen, make sure you collect any new language you hear in your English learning journal (we will talk more about this later on)

3. Practise Speaking Regularly

PRACTICE word on block concept

Speaking regularly is crucial for building fluency. If it is possible, find a language exchange partner or join a conversation group to practise speaking with others. Facebook and Meetup are excellent places to find conversation clubs or language partners. Alternatively, talking to yourself out loud is also a great way to not only test out using any new language you learn, but it helps improve your sentence structure, pronunciation and intonation. I know that sometimes listening to ourselves can be awkward, but don't be afraid to record yourself and listen back. It can help you identify any areas where you need improvement so you can focus on them. Whichever option you choose, practising speak will definitely boost your confidence and "feel the rhythm" of the English language.

4. Expand Your Vocabulary

Close up of old English dictionary page with word vocabulary

Of course, a big part of fluency is the words and phrases you know how to use actively! We already spoke about watching TV shows and films, but make sure you find some time to do some reading. Articles, blogposts, fiction & non-fiction books on topics that you are interested in are a great way to learn a new language and how to use it in a sentence and the right context.  But watching and reading are not enough. Language is only alive when it is used! As you come across new words and phrases, collect them in your English learning journal and set your tasks to revise and practise using them regularly through flashcards or apps like Quizlet. 

Create word associations to help you remember new vocabulary. For example, associate a difficult word with a familiar word (a synonym) or image to make it easier to recall. Or write your own sentences using the new words and phrases you discover. 

Final thoughts: Be Consistent and Patient

Improving your language skills takes time and dedication. Be consistent in your language be practice and patient with yourself. There will be days when you feel like you're not making progress, but remember that every effort counts. Stay motivated and celebrate even the smallest victories along the way. And don't forget to use your learning journal and your S.M.A.R.T. goals to help you direct your learning and keep you on course. Good luck!