How to Speak English Fluently

14 Practical Tips to Build Your English Fluency

Would you love to speak English fluently, like a native? Do you want to feel confident and relaxed when speaking? Do you want to sound as smart in English as you do in Dutch, or French or Spanish? Do you want to communicate fluently at work and in social situations? Then this post is for you. Read the whole list and then find the tips that suit you best and begin your journey to English fluency. Let’s start with some definitions, just to be sure that we are all “on the same page.” (= thinking about the same thing.)

​​Do you work in HR? Are you looking for a way to improve the English fluency of your team?

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What is fluency?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, fluency is the ability to speak or write a language easily, well, and quickly. We could say that fluency means flow. But in common usage, fluency means speaking at an advanced or near native level (C2 on the CEFR scale). And that is the way we will think about it in this article.

How can you learn to speak English fluently?

First, and most importantly – don’t worry about doing everything on this list. And don’t worry about being perfect. Even natives make mistakes! Just pick the English fluency tips that suit you best and get started. Stay relaxed, but disciplined. Let’s get fluent!

1. Build your English vocabulary.

English fluency begins with words and phrases. Vocabulary is the heart and soul of any language. Without these building blocks, you have nothing.

• Build vocabulary with more words. Knowing and being able to produce words is essential.
• Build vocabulary with more idioms. Understanding idioms is required for intermediate to advanced level listening. Even if you do not use idioms (productive speech), you must understand them (receptive speech).

2. Refine and correct your pronunciation.

• Learn intonation. It carries lots of meaning.
• Learn linking, omissions and phrasing so you can decode and produce English.
• Fix pronunciation errors that interfere with understandability, especially sound substitutions.
• Accept the fact that English spelling is very often disconnected from English pronunciation. Trust your teacher to train your sound.
• Get a good schwa sound as in the words bus, cup and love. The schwa is the most common sound in English! And while you are thinking about sounds, add a good TH so you can properly say common words like think, thought and through.

3. Practice speaking in a fluent manner.

• Reduce hesitations and filler words.
• Read aloud and, just like an actor, rehearse the same text again and again till you can speak it fluently and accurately.
• Pace yourself. Be aware of how stress – and lack of stress – impacts speech speed.
• Listen to yourself / record yourself.

4. Learn diplomatic language.

• Be polite and learn the “social graces” of English.
• Learn to use modal verbs and other softening phrases so that you are clear but polite.
• Be aware of cultural differences as it relates to social and business communication.

5. Become a great listener in order to speak English fluently.

• Be a great listener and show that you are listening with eye contact, facial expressions, appropriate body language, and accurate verbal responses. You will “win friends and influence people” (Dale Carnegie) when you show others the respect of listening to them.
• Do not use listening time to plan your remarks. You cannot respond well if you did not listen well, and people will notice, and they will not like it! Of course, listening well does not mean agreeing. In fact, if you plan to disagree, you need to have the other person’s comments in mind.

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6. Have the right attitude about achieving fluency.

• Language fashions change! Accept the fact that language changes, and rules, styles and preferences you learned at school or uni may no longer be valid.
• Be a lifelong learner. Accept and embrace the lifelong language journey.
• Ask for help.
• Remind yourself that no one is perfect. Be kind to yourself.
• Stay calm and mindful. Research shows that anxiety blocks vocabulary recall! :o(
• Fake it till you make it! Keep talking despite mistakes. That’s OK. You’re learning!
• Celebrate your accomplishments. Respect and embrace your progress. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend.

7. Speak English fluently in your head!  Think, don’t translate.

• Think in English. Train your brain and build your English infrastructure. Teach your “inner voice” to speak English and the “outer voice” will follow.

8. Be social, but a little selfish.

• Hangout with the right people. That means fluent people. People who speak English badly will not help you!
• If possible, minimize contact with people who speak English badly. Maximize contact with native speakers and advanced ESL speakers.
• Learn how to give and take a compliment.

9. Enjoy some English entertainment. Get a “2 for 1″ value.

• Entertain yourself with movies, series and podcasts. English subtitles are best. Videoland, Ziggo Film 1, Amazon Prime, Pathe Thuis and YouTube deliver a plethora of films and series. Check out Spotify, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Pocket Casts and Apple for podcasts. With podcasts – and documentary films – you can learn about something that is important to you while improving your English. What could be better than that?

10. Get “appy” with it.

• Record yourself. Dictate. Read aloud and listen to yourself. Use your smartphone’s free native app or Otter has a free membership.

Check out our WATCH LEARN SPEAK video app.

11. To speak English fluently, you have to practice, but be sure to protect yourself!

• Learn by doing. You wouldn’t learn to dance by reading about it, would you? Language is no different. As Nike says, “Just do it!”
• Build your muscles: Speak, speak, speak!
• Write in English. Write anything from a business report to a cooking recipe. Writing forces you to externalize and produce language and helps you see your errors.
• Find your audience. Be sure to practice as much as possible with native speakers who you feel safe and comfortable with. Then build up to “tougher crowds.” Avoid practicing with people who over-correct you. This will frustrate and discourage you, shattering your confidence and taking the joy out of speaking English. Protect yourself!

12. Be persuasive.

• Learn how to “sell” in English, even if you are not in sales. English speakers like to be persuaded. If you are not enthusiastic, why should we be?

13. Read aloud.

• Read books, articles, blogs, magazines and newspapers aloud.
• Read poetry aloud.

14. Finally, if you want to speak English fluently, you need a good teacher.

Do not “go it alone” – find a great English trainer and keep working with them. Their feedback, guidance, support and influence is critical for your success. Most people who do it alone will fail. We all need support and guidance to achieve important life goals.

Do not ask your partner, colleague or best friend  to teach you! Some native speakers are terrible teachers! And learning from your spouse (= husband or wife) can be very stressful. So please do not ask your best friend or partner to teach you. Leave that to the professionals. Practice with supportive friends and colleagues, but learn from a professional.

Are you looking for a great trainer? Would you like to meet an English Center teacher in a free online appointment?


Brenda de Jong Pauley, Kerry Finlayson, and The English Center Team
January, 2022

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​​Do you work in HR? Are you looking for a way to improve the English fluency of your corporate team?

Are you looking for a great trainer? Would you like to meet an English Center teacher in a free online appointment?

The English Center of Amsterdam⁠ is your source for advanced English and business English training⁠ in the Netherlands – and everywhere Live Online – always with a top native-speaker business English trainer. We help clients learn to speak English fluently with personalized courses Live Online and in person – in Amsterdam, Amstelveen and Den Haag and onsite at your company.

Call +31 20 823 0569⁠. We are happy to speak with you in English or Dutch!

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