Perhaps you are the kind of person who can answer questions about English. You may even be able to pass an English grammar exam, or maybe even memorize 50 words of vocabulary a day. But, when it comes to actually having a conversation, you may be having a hard time expressing yourself. Consider the following suggestions to help you improve fluency while speaking to someone, and even gain more confidence along the way.
When speaking English, try not to think too much about making a perfect sentence because you will lose fluency during the conversation.
Have there ever been times when you were talking to someone using English, and you just couldn’t think of the perfect sentence? Suddenly, it gets quiet while you are thinking of what to say and while the other person is waiting for you to say something. Or, on the other hand, you lost opportunities to speak because others were not willing to wait for you to say something.
In either case, don’t try to find the perfect structure, but think of what to say, and say what you have in mind at the time. You may discover that you didn't need that textbook perfect grammar structure to be understood. When having a conversation, it’s better to say something rather than nothing so that the other person can at least have an idea of what you are trying to say.
There may be times when you do not know the exact word so talk around it.
There are times when the exact word we are looking for does not immediately come to mind (and it happens to everybody, even native speakers). Rather than that long pause where you are silent, waiting for that perfect word to come to mind, why not talk around the missing word.
For example, you may not know exactly what that device is called, but it is used check to see if there is enough electricity coming into your house (i.e. a voltmeter). There you go, you already said it, even without using the exact term! At least you were able to describe what it does. You have just given your listener an idea of what you are talking about even without saying the exact word. Your listener will appreciate that much more than a 30-second silence while you search your mind for the right term.
When your fluency decreases, it creates an awkward situation. People you are talking to may not want to wait a long time while you think of the perfect sentence.
Have you ever been in a situation where someone was speaking to you a-n-d . . . t-h-e-y . . . t-o-o-k . . . a . . . l-o-n-g . . . time to express themselves? How did you feel? What were you thinking? Were you anticipating what they might say and glad when they finally finished their sentence? If we put the shoe on the other foot, the people you talk to may be feeling the same.
One way to avoid this situation is to say simply what you have in mind, and not worry too much about what comes out. Think of it as an opportunity to discover what you really know and what you don’t. You will know by the response of your listener or even their facial expressions if your communication was successful.
You will discover one of two things: (1) That what you said made sense to the listener, or (2) that what you said didn’t make sense to the listener. If (2) is the case, you know that there is something that you can do better next time.
Just express yourself in your normal way. Talk and see what you really know, then you can make improvements if communication fails.
You may come to realize that those grammar forms you have been studying are not so practical. Or, that the vocabulary you have been memorizing is cluttering your mind and preventing you from expressing yourself in an easier way.
You may discover any number of things, but the idea is that if you want to improve your fluency, you’re going to need to take a chance to find out if you communicated the right thing or not. If you did, great! If not, at least you know that you need to change something next time.
Yes, it is OKAY to fail! Sometimes through our failures, we can learn how to communicate our thoughts better.
Sometimes communication doesn't go as we planned. It happens to everyone. There may have been a misunderstanding that needs to be cleared up. But, failing provides an opportunity to discover where your weak areas are. You may be studying a lot of grammar for example, but did not realize that a certain grammar form is more acceptable in colloquial communication. Or, you may be using vocabulary that is not understandable to your listeners. Either way, you may discover that people are more willing to speak with you if you will try to communicate.
The important point is that we understand each other. There is no perfect speaker, just speakers. So, share your thoughts, learn, and grow!
Remember, there is no perfect way to communicate – there is simply communication between people. If we are willing to try and we can understand each other, then we have accomplished our goal. The more you share, the more you will discover what works and what doesn't. You can then make some adjustments.
So, go on, try to say what is on your mind and see if the message was received and how it was received. From there, you will know what to do next time. If you take too long to express yourself, you may find yourself speaking to yourself. If you don't try to share what's on your mind at the time, you may never know how to improve. However, if you try these suggestions, you may discover that you really do know more than you think and end up with greater fluency and more confidence.