Practical tips to help learners become more fluent in English


English teachers are often asked by learners how they can become more fluent in English. Developing oral and written fluency in English requires discipline and a certain study routine – it does not happen overnight as all teachers certainly know and have pointed out to their learners.

Learning English nowadays is certainly more accessible than a few years ago. Internet is usually easily accessible and a number of materials and resources can be found there. The trick here, however, is how to turn all this information into knowledge, and how to incorporate such knowledge into the daily use of the language.

Constant exposure to the language is definitely crucial for those looking for greater fluency. In addition, it is important to highlight that learners must be exposed to a range of different sources of the language (videos, podcasts, movie and TV series snippets, for instance), and these sources should preferably bring varieties of English. Learners also need a constant reminder that English nowadays goes way beyond the dominant British and American varieties, and that tuning their ears into a greater range of accents is paramount for successful communication today.

Another important tip is to guide learners on how they can better systematise what they learn while watching a movie or reading a book, for example. Simply being exposed to the target language may not result in learning new things, so it is important to keep a record of the new vocabulary or the new structures they find in those sources. Keeping a lexical book, for instance, is a practical way to have easy access to that language and to use it when writing a text, for instance.

Finally, encouraging learners to make use of the language they learn is of paramount importance to keep that vocabulary active in their repertoire and to stop using the same old reliable words they are so used to. As learners advance towards higher levels, it is important to help them to fine tune their use of English and help them express themselves with greater precision and accuracy when it comes to lexical choices. Doing so should enable them to become more fluent speakers and to communicate with greater precision.

Hope you have found these tips useful and look forward to learning which tips you give your own learners to develop fluency!


Catarina Pontes

Catarina Pontes is a senior consultant for Troika. She is an ICELT main course tutor, and Cambridge Assessment English Team Leader . A DELTA holder, and currently doing her MA with NILE, she is also a conference speaker and has published articles on ELT and EFL. She is the co-author of "Getting into Teacher Education - a Handbook", and is currently the coordinator of IATEFL's Pron SIG.

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