You’ve made a commitment to learn English to transform your life…
- to get on a course or study abroad
- to get a new job or promotion
- to feel more comfortable communicating in English with friends, family, colleagues
- to travel
- to open doors just waiting to be opened!
- to challenge yourself
Whatever your reason, you’re committed to improving your fluency in English
You have a long list of vocabulary and boy have you studied those grammar rules!
So what’s gone wrong?
When it comes to actually doing something with it:
- giving your presentation
- participating in your meeting
- making small talk with your new classmates or colleagues
- meeting new people
- wowing your potential new boss…
you get stuck!
- You can’t find the words you need
- When you can find them, you can’t get them out: you find them impossible to pronounce and nobody understands you
- And where’s your grammar when you need it? You can’t put the words together quick enough to make a sentence (when you remember how to form the second conditional to tell X what you would do in their shoes, people are talking about something else!)
You feel stressed, anxious, embarrassed and lose all your confidence.
Maybe it’s time to give up?
Learning languages is obviously not your thing…
Stop right there!
It’s not your fault and you can do this! You just need to make a few small changes to the way you are learning.
I’ve been there.
When I started learning languages many years ago I thought if I learned vocabulary and grammar I was good to go. And the more I knew, the better I would be at that language.
Now don’t get me wrong, language tools such as vocabulary and grammar are important. If vocabulary is the building blocks of language then grammar is the cement that holds it all together on order to “construct” something.
But over the years I realised that to be able to express myself confidently in French, German, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Galician, Swedish (these are all the languages I’ve tried to learn, some more successfully than others) you need more than lists of vocabulary and grammar rules.
So what else do we need in our “toolbox” to move towards better fluency?
Pronunciation is another language tool that affects communication. As well as individual sounds, stress, rhythm and intonation all affect understanding and fluency.
Facial expressions, head movements, hand gestures, eye movements and gazes are communication tools we all use. In fact they are sometimes our only option when other language tools don’t work.
Body language such as posture, distance and touch are also used to convey important messages such as friendliness, hostility, urgency… Being fluent involves reading and using body language correctly.
Being aware of and adapting our language to different contexts and social situations is also a sign of fluency.
Where are we? Are we in a formal or informal setting?
Who are we talking to? Do we need to use any special forms of address such as Dr, Sir…?
These “rules of use” vary in different languages and cultures and can cause communication problems. Cultural fluency, knowing how to adapt our language (verbal and non verbal) according to culture is essential. This knowledge can help us break down barriers in communication, avoid misunderstandings and causing offense.
As well as knowledge we also need strategies to help communication flow and sound natural.
- Speeding up and slowing down
- Using fillers like er, um, you know, well to fill silences and give the speaker time to think
- Rephrasing, defining terms, summarizing, using gestures, facial expressions to understand and be understood.
Are you ready to transform the way you learn English to move towards better fluency?
In “10 secrets to better fluency“ I give you 10 practical things you can start doing now to start filling your “toolbox” to build confidence and improve fluency.
Why not choose one to start focusing on right now and see the difference it makes.