Speaking is all about improvising. No matter if it’s your mother tongue or a foreign language, you make decisions when uttering each word.
- Is it past or present?
- Is it a fact or just a hypothesis?
- What adjective should I use to describe a particular event or person?
- Could I use a more expressive word?etc.
Decisions are being made at the speed of light without you realizing it. That is, if it’s in your first language that you’re speaking. Unfortunately, when it comes to speaking in a foreign language, the effort to choose the right words and expressions becomes much more conscious. To become fluent, you need to stop thinking about how to say things, so that you can focus on what you are saying. How can you do that?
The key is practice, of course, and learning chunks of language instead of individual words. Try to memorize sentences that include the words or idioms you’d like to learn. This will help you tremendously the next time you want to use them. And the same goes for grammar. I don’t like grammar rules. There are so many of them. How could you keep all of them in mind while speaking?
The good news is: you don’t have to.
When looking at different tenses and rules, always focus on the example sentences in the book you’re learning from. These are the things you must memorize, not the rules! This is why we always give you example sentences in our lessons on different grammatical structures or vocabulary. Here are some of our most popular posts for you to see how it works:
1000+ Most Popular English Idioms and Their Meanings
PUT IT INTO PRACTICE!
There’s one thing I can’t stress enough: the importance of practice. They say we remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 50% of what we hear and see, 70% of what we say and 90% of what we say and do. (source: Cone of Learning from Edgar Dale)
Try to find someone you can speak to in English on a regular basis. Ideally, it should be a teacher, but your friends and other language learners will do too. Just make sure you use English as often as you can to give yourself a chance to use and internalize what you’ve learned.
For more tips, read our ABC of Language Learning and Nadia’s fantastic article on what NOT to do when learning. Also, feel free to share your thoughts and questions with us in the comment area below.
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