When filling forms for jobs, schools, business or even travel documents, we may sometimes find a section set aside for us to either tick or fix in our fluency level of certain languages.
Being fluent in English has quite a number of advantages. First of all, the English Language is the international language of business. This means that it is an accepted language all around the World. This means that if you want to sell yourself globally, English would be one of the perfect languages to pick up and gaining fluency in the English language would be your goal. Also, the English language is practically the language of the World Wide Web which is also known as the internet. With us being in the internet age, getting a level of fluency in the English language would be an added advantage. For a non native English speaker, fluency in the English language would usher in more job opportunities compared to a candidate who has no command of the English language.
For some people, mastering the English Language as a second language can be quite frustrating. The truth is: it doesn’t have to be. Just like acquiring any other thing, being fluent in English requires hard work, a passion for the language and continuous practice and usage.
Here are a few tips that will help you in your journey to being fluent in English.
1. Listen, Listen, Listen!
I cannot overemphasize the importance of listening when acquiring the English Language. To gain fluency, you have to learn to be a good listener. First of all, listening to native speakers or fluent speakers would help in shaping your ability to pronounce English words in the right way. Listening doesn’t have to be so hard. You can enjoy the time while carrying out some listening exercises. You could get nice movies in English and enjoy a pastime at the same time, acquire some English Language skills. You could also get some good music in English and listen while you do other things or just relax in bed. In whatever way you choose to listen, the fact still remains that listening to a language continuously would help you learn to speak the language better.
2. Learn vocabulary and sentences by heart
There is an idiom that goes, ‘slow and steady wins the race’. Sometimes, learning English within a school environment might make us learn words and sentences mainly for the purpose of answering and passing tests and exams. That is not an effective way to master a language. When learning a language, it is importantly to take your time and learn vocabulary and sentences by heart. Learning a language deeply, taking your time to make sure that you have a grasp of what you are learning is the best way to master the English Language.
3. Make Mistakes and Learn
It is okay to make mistakes on your journey to being fluent in English. The beautiful thing about being around native speakers of that language is that when you make mistakes, they can help you and point out the mistakes to you. When you know you have made a mistake in English, do not be hard on yourself. Making mistakes is a part of learning. Correct yourself and learn what you need to learn about the correction. This way, what you have learnt would stick better and you would find out after some time that you will not make that mistake again.
4. Motivation and Consistency
As with every other skill, trying to acquire fluency in English without the right drive would be chaotic. You have to keep passion up, determine that you want to master the English Language and go for it. Motivation is a very important key in gaining fluency.
I remember trying to learn Spanish because all my friends felt that Spanish was the cool kids’ language. I started eagerly and bought a ‘Spanish for Dummies’ book to get me started. In the first month, I was able to say out Spanish numbers one to twenty by heart and I was able to introduce myself in Spanish. However, I lost interest after the fad died down and about two years after, I realized that I could not even remember how to conveniently count numbers one to twenty again in Spanish. The truth remains that language acquisition is quite technical. You have to consistently speak and practice vocabularies, sentences you have learnt in the English in order to master it. The more you speak the English Language, the more fluent you will become.
5. Study Materials
For second language speakers of English, there are many learning aids that you can get to better your journey into gaining mastery of the English Language. Some of these materials are audio-visual and for some of them, play along to their games and sing along to the songs they offer. Using audio-visual language learning aids is a fun way to increase your fluency in English.
Ever heard of anyone who wanted to learn the English Language and decided not to get a good dictionary? I haven’t either. A good English dictionary is one of the most important tools to have when learning the English Language. A dictionary is a resource which lists words of a language (usually in alphabetical order) and provides the definition and other important information on the words. A dictionary can be in print form as in hardcover books or paperback books. It can also come in electronic format that is in an e-book format. These days, dictionaries have websites that anyone can easily use online. There are quite a number of very good English print dictionaries. Some of them are Cambridge Dictionary, Longman Dictionary and Oxford English Dictionary.
6. Read English Books, Newspapers
Reading English Books can open your mind to brilliant new worlds and take you to a new level of English language learning. The key to success is choosing the right book for you. If you do not know where to begin, you should find something that interests you.
Newspapers are also worth reading. Not only you can improve your English but you’ll learn about what’s going on, which can be handy when talking with native speakers.
7. Watch English TV Shows, Movies
Watch TV shows or YouTube videos in English is another great way to help you - use them to improve your fluency. How will you do it?
- Pick a short part of your favorite TV shows
- Repeat what the speakers are saying line by line
- Try to sound just like them (matching the tone, speed and even the accent) – record yourself speaking if you can.
- Imagine that you are trying to learn a new song in English and you want to sing as good as the singer.
It doesn’t matter if you miss a few words, the important thing is to keep speaking. By practicing this method many times, you will notice that your spoken English will sound more like a native.
If you’re tired of reading books, there’s nothing better than learning English through movies and film. This might be the most fun way to learn English. You should choose a film with English subtitles which allow you to check up new words. I would recommend the “Friends” TV Movie for you, watching this series kills two birds with one stone. It makes you laugh you heart out and will help to improve your English in a natural way.
8. Writing Everyday in English
Writing is a great way of using new vocabulary and getting your head around grammar. Try and write something every day using new words and grammar that you’ve learned. Even if it’s only a few sentences, it’s very important to get into the habit of doing this.
9. Learn with English songs.
Singing along to your favorite English songs is a great method for you to become more fluent. You will get familiar with the sound of English and have better understanding of the English language’s rhythm, tone and beat. Moreover, singing along to your favorite English songs will help you to remember new words easier as you are singing with your emotion.
10. Join Social Media Sites and Internet Forum
There is nothing better than learning the English Language with a bunch of other people interested in learning the language also. You can find groups of people on the internet who like you, want to be fluent in English. The internet is another great tool for learning. For some of these forums, you can ask questions and have people answer your questions. Some examples of English forums to join are ‘the free dictionary language forum’, ‘English Language and usage stack exchange’,.... All these forums are great for learning English.
Being fluent in English, as a second language speaker, doesn’t have to be so difficult. By keeping your passion alive and being open to corrections, you can learn the English Language and even grow to become very proficient in it.
Levels of English Fluency
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), which is an international standard for gauging language fluency and proficiency, came up with six levels of fluency:
Breakthrough level and elementary level which fall under the basic fluency; the intermediate level and upper intermediate level which fall under the independent fluency; the advanced level and the mastery/proficiency level which fall under the proficient fluency.
To make this much easier, londonschool.com breaks the above levels into 9 levels of English fluency with Level 1 being the lowest level of fluency and Level 9 being the highest level of fluency.
- Beginner: Non English Language speakers
- Elementary: Can only understand a few English words
- Pre-intermediate: Can communicate simply, though with some difficulty
- Low Intermediate: Can make simple sentences in English. However, these people only have a limited vocabulary.
- Intermediate: This set of people can speak and understand the English Language to a reasonable level. They can make use of basic English tenses although they have great difficulty using more complex grammar and vocabulary.
- Upper Intermediate: These people speak the English Language well and are capable of understanding when people speak to them in the language. However, they still make grammar mistakes and sometimes may not know how to construct their sentences in a way that people can fully understand them.
- Pre-advanced: Just like the upper intermediate, these people speak the English Language well and are capable of understanding when people speak to them in the language. However, they still make grammar mistakes and sometimes may not know how to construct their sentences in a way that people can fully understand them.
- Advanced: These people speak and understand the English Language well enough but can be lost in more complex English vocabulary.
- Very Advanced: This is the highest level of English fluency which is sometimes attributed to native speakers of English. These people have a strong command and mastery of the English Language.