If you’re learning English, you’ve probably discovered that you can learn every bit of English grammar and still be confused trying to talk to native speakers. This is normal. As in any language, English conversation depends as much on dialect and idioms as on grammar. Like anyone learning a new language, you’re probably wondering how you can improve your speaking.
The simplest answer to the question “How can I speak English fluently?” is this: practice. In this post, we’ll look at some conversational skill-building techniques such as immersion vs. exposure. We’ll also give you some tips on how to improve conversation skills in English that will help as you’re learning how to speak fluent English without hesitation.
What Is the Difference between Immersion and Exposure?
The two main approaches to learning how to improve conversation in English are called immersion and exposure. Both—especially used together—can help you improve your English-speaking fluency. Let’s look at immersion vs. exposure and the benefits of each.
Practicing English via immersion means you’re surrounding yourself with people who are native English speakers. For example, you can practice speaking English with a native speaker, such as a friend or an English tutor. Additionally, you can go to places where native speakers gather, such as grocery stores, parks, or other public places. Hang out, listen to conversations, and practice speaking.
Listen to native English speakers. Practice asking and answering questions. This will help you learn how native speakers use English informally, which is a good way to improve conversation skills in English.
Learning English via exposure means you’re exposing yourself to the language by reading English-language books and magazines and listening to English-language media. If you read the text both out loud and in your head, you’ll get a feel for how native speakers build sentences in English. That, in turn, will help you speak it. Another example is watching English-language movies and listening to English songs, podcasts, or radio shows. The more you listen to native speakers using the language, the better you’ll understand how to improve conversation in English.
Learning how to improve conversation skills in English can be difficult. Fortunately, there are several apps, websites, and other resources to help you learn how to improve your English-speaking fluency. A few examples of these are Duolingo, ELSA, and TalkEnglish.com.
- Duolingo is a language-learning app that offers easy but helpful lessons in English. Even better, they’re presented in your native language. It’s a helpful and fun way to learn how to speak English fluently.
- ELSA is an app specifically designed to help you learn to pronounce English words. Because good pronunciation is important for communicating well, this app will be very helpful while you’re learning how to improve conversation in English.
- TalkEnglish.com is a website that offers many lessons in speaking English within multiple English-based settings. For example, this website teaches you informal English for everyday conversation. It also teaches more formal English for business settings and interviews. So it will help you learn how to improve your speaking in any place or situation where English is the main language.
If you’ve ever heard a native English speaker suddenly use a phrase that doesn’t seem to make any sense, they probably used an idiom. Like most languages, English uses idioms to communicate meaning. Idioms are fairly common in informal English conversation, so getting comfortable with idioms and learning a few common ones will help you improve conversation in English.
What is an idiom?
An idiom is a common phrase that means something different than the literal meaning of its words. However, idioms are used so often that most people understand what they mean. For example, the phrase “barking up the wrong tree” doesn’t actually mean someone is barking next to a tree. Actually, it means someone is looking in the wrong place for an idea or an answer to a question.
How do idioms help in conversation?
Idioms are useful in conversation because they allow speakers to get the message across without using a lot of words. Because idioms are familial, speakers don’t have to explain. And the conversation can continue without pausing.
What are some common English idioms, and what do they mean?
Because English uses so many idioms, one of the best ways to improve conversation skills in English is to learn common English idioms. This way, you can recognize their meanings when you hear them in conversation. Fortunately, it’s easy to find online resources that teach common English idioms and their meanings, but here are a few to get you started:
- “At the drop of a hat”: “instantly” or “without hesitation.”
- “Beat around the bush”: Someone avoids a topic by talking about things that are related to it instead.
- “Costs an arm and a leg”: Something is very expensive.
- “Once in a blue moon”: Something happens very rarely.
- “Jump the gun”: Someone starts doing something before it’s time to do it.
- “Get up on the wrong side of the bed”: Someone wakes up in a bad mood.
Like with any language, learning how to speak English fluently can be difficult. But it’s also rewarding. Hopefully our tips for how to improve your English-speaking fluency have given you a helpful boost. With practice and the tools we mentioned in this post, you’ll surely gain all the skills you need to speak fluent English.