These days, a lot of people and businesses try to sell you the “best way” to learn to speak English fluently.
Every time I open the App Store, I see new language learning apps. I always get excited because I am passionate about language learning technology.
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” ― Stephen R. Covey
These apps promise to teach you a language “the fun way.”
But learning words and phrases is not always fun, even if it feels like a game, such as Duolingo.
When I take a closer look, almost all language learning apps focus on one thing: vocabulary.
After trying these apps or courses for a few weeks or months you realize you can only say a few words, maybe a few sentences.
Words Are Not Enough
Personally, I learned this when I used Duolingo to learn Portuguese. When I met my Brazilian husband for the first time, all I could say to him was “bom día.” I could not say a full, useful sentence or pronounce most words correctly after using the app daily for two years.
Duolingo is famous for teaching you funny, nonsense sentences like these:
this is your duolingo on drugs pic.twitter.com/gdcq8j7oj7— Shit Duolingo Says (@shitduosays) 19. Dezember 2018
suuuuuure pic.twitter.com/MKCvppcvIM— Shit Duolingo Says (@shitduosays) 21. November 2018
Duo always asking the realest of questions pic.twitter.com/GLdhoF8NSc— Shit Duolingo Says (@shitduosays) 2. November 2018
How to Speak English Fluently
Speaking is the most difficult skill to learn for many learners.
You want to be able to have a conversation, give a presentation, or even give an interview.
Language learners often ask this question: How can I become fluent in English?
Yet, these questions are important, too:
- How will I get used to the language?
- What will give me confidence?
- Where will I find new and useful words?
- How will I know how to use new words in real life?
What if there was a better way to learn English? A fun method that will make you more confident in the long term?
Instead, you need two things: interesting content and a process.
Interesting Content Helps You to Speak English Fluently
Content means information. It can be from a text, a speech, or a video.
You may ask: “How will this help me to speak English fluently? Don’t I have to speak?”
Of course, speaking, writing, vocabulary, and grammar are important. But they all depend on what you “feed” your brain, meaning everything you hear and read in English.
We learn to speak English fluently through listening. Think of it as “input.”
Listen first. Read first. Understand first.
You need to know how to say words and sounds to be able to say them yourself. Then, speaking comes more naturally.
There is no switch in your brain to produce words and sentences in a new language. You need input first.
Several language experts support this idea. The linguist Stephen Krashen believes that you need “compelling input” to become fluent in a language. Steve Kaufman, a polyglot and Youtuber, says that you learn the language by developing “the ability to notice.”
Personalize Your Learning Process
So, what is interesting?
According to Stephen Krashen, “compelling means that the input is so interesting you forget that it is in another language.”
Ask yourself: What are you interested in? Tech news? Finance? Online marketing? Design? What do you want to learn about?
Here’s the key: You should enjoy it. Confidence comes from positive experiences.
It doesn’t matter if you read the Wall Street Journal or if you find science more interesting instead.
I explain why it’s important to personalize your learning process in this article:
Learn From Experts
How will you know how to pronounce a new word correctly without listening to someone say it?
If you have not listened to any presentations, such as TED talks, how can you give a good speech?
How will you write a business article if you don’t read business magazines or blogs regularly?
The great thing about this: You will practice English and learn something new.
Here are some ideas to practice reading in English:
- Subscribe to an interesting newsletter
- Read an inspiring business book
In addition, try these ideas to practice listening:
- Youtube videos
- Movies and TV shows
If you want a simple tool that uses this method, try one of these language learning tools:
Conclusion: Enjoy Reading and Listening
Listening, reading, and noticing will make you a great English speaker. Focus on enjoyable reading and listening. After some time, it will be easier to speak fluently and tell others what you know.
- Learning mostly words is not enough.
- You have to get used to the language and understand how it works.
- The best way to learn a language is through interesting content and a personalized process.
- Read and listen A LOT.
- Don’t forget to have fun!
You are in charge of your own learning process. Make it a positive experience!
I Would Like to Hear From You: What Is Your Favorite English Resource?
Which interesting reading and listening resource do you use to improve your English? Share one resource in the comments below!
Twitter images: twitter.com/shitduosays
Stephen Krashen: The Compelling Input Hypothesis