12 Myths That Stop You From Speaking English Fluently

How to Speak English Fluently: 12 Misleading Myths That Are Hurting Your Progress

Because there is so much conflicting advice about fluency available, many English learners are confused about how to improve. I will bust some myths around language learning that are keeping you from expressing yourself if you are feeling shy about your English, or if you are worried about how to get to the next level.

You Can Speak Fluent English Sooner By Avoiding These 12 Myths

Let’s address each misconception and correct it as we go when it comes to developing English fluency.

1. The Myth: Speaking Practice Improves Fluency

The truth: Fluency in a language is an ability that requires a surprising kind of practice.

Think about learning to play the guitar…

Playing an instrument such as the guitar involves memorizing chords and repeating them until one can play the song automatically.

On the other hand, achieving fluency in communication is not just about repetition; it’s about being ready for plenty of words and phrases that may be used any time during the conversation.

To be able to respond promptly, we must get used to understanding messages and speaking without hesitation.

Dr. Stephen Krashen’s Input Hypothesis of Language Acquisition states that fluency develops from obtaining comprehensible input (i.e., understanding messages in the target language) allowing one to take part in conversations effortlessly.

Therefore, staying silent while getting more varied input is the best practice to become fluent with speech eventually emerging when they are feeling confident enough.

2. The Myth: Make Mistakes and Force Yourself to Speak

The truth: Forcing yourself to speak before you’re ready can actually hinder your progress.

I can’t stress this point enough!

It’s essential to realize that becoming a confident English speaker takes time. A silent period is therefore very important as it allows you to process the language you are learning without pressure so that it ‘sticks’. Through careful observation, you can pick up on the intonations, accents and expressions used by native speakers. Our confidence grows as our understanding increases, and with each layer of new information we add we become more and more ready to speak.

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If you KNOW a lot of English, but struggle to SPEAK…

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3. The Myth: Record yourself speaking

The Truth: It might be helpful to track your progress over time – like taking pictures of yourself while trying to lose weight – but it most likely won’t improve your fluency.

Consider learning a track that resonates with you. Listen to it repeatedly and attempt to emulate the words as heard. Lyrics should also be examined for comprehension purposes. However, don’t go as far as recording yourself – it will most likely not prove to be beneficial in your quest for fluency. Maximize your time by exposing yourself to comprehendible spoken English through listening, viewing, and reading exercises. It is this input that will automatically help you cultivate better listening pronunciation, expand vocabulary, master grammar rules and more – all towards the goal of becoming more conversant rapidly.

4. The Myth: An English teacher can help you with your pronunciation

The Truth: Think about how children learn to speak. They hear hundreds of different people growing up, and their pronunciation develops automatically.

Listening to a variety of native speakers is an excellent way to improve your pronunciation.

From radio, TV, and the internet, taking in multiple examples and conversations helps you absorb new sounds and better grasp real-speaking situations.

This type of learning, which I refer to as Naturally Varied Review, is a great way to slowly build up your listening and pronunciation skills. When you hear words repeatedly spoken differently in different contexts, it allows for greater comprehension and pronunciation accuracy.

5. The Myth: It’s Important to Learn Single-Word Translations

The truth: In English, you must learn the nuances of words.

If you’re translating in your head before you speak, this will slow you down. Translations are also less memorable, and often don’t express what you really want to say.

Rather than trying to translate in your head, concentrate on mastering phrases for different scenarios.

Additionally, familiarize yourself with how the same words can be employed in multiple contexts. Doing so will not only enable you to communicate more fluently in different settings, but it will also help you cultivate a natural-sounding command of the language and grasp its flow.

6. The Myth: It’s Time to Learn More Words

The truth: You should spend more time understanding FEWER words

As I strolled through the park in Nagasaki, Japan, I saw some children speaking Japanese fluently. This brought a thought to mind:

why are these three-year-olds already conversing confidently while I have studied the language for many months and only barely mastered a few basic sentences?

Consequently, it got me thinking: although it is typical for native kids to know more words then adult learners, this phenomenon could be attributed to their amount of time spent honing their expertise with the language. Children focus on fewer terms and repeat them consistently until they become comfortable utilizing them correctly.

Once this is achieved, they can then keep progressing to more intricate subjects. Obviously understanding each word isn’t always enough – you must also develop confidence in using them within conversation instinctively.

Bruce Lee’s famous quote “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times” reinforces this idea perfectly.

7. The Myth: Learn “Advanced” Vocabulary

The truth: It is important to speak correctly – and fluently – rather than using advanced vocabulary incorrectly or unconfidently.

Even though those children did not have much vocabulary, they spoke fluently! Even though English students always want to learn more advanced words and phrases, I always advise them: “If you do not feel comfortable making basic sentences and without hesitation, spend more time getting basic input before adding more vocabulary.”

Fluency is determined not by how many words you know but by how well you speak. You should review the basics several times until they become second nature to you.

8. The Myth: It’s Important to Have a Practice Partner

The truth: Fluency is built by MANY different speakers, not by your own.

If you don’t feel confident or ready to speak with a native speaker, no need to push yourself.

You can still get native input that you understand by reading magazines and books, listening to podcasts and music, and watching TV shows, news, and movies.

On the other hand, if you do feel confident enough to have a conversation in English, remember to think like a native: find someone who shares your interests and talk about topics that pique both of you.

This is how most natives engage in conversations. Never ask them for language practice as it puts them under pressure, making the whole ordeal less enjoyable for both sides. Focus on understanding how they communicate rather than using it as an opportunity for “lessons” or exchanges – this will help you develop fluency in no time!

Fluent for Life GUARANTEES English fluency for intermediate to advanced English learners.

If you KNOW a lot of English, but struggle to SPEAK…

Learn More about Fluent for Life

9. The Myth: It’s Time for More “Traditional” Classes

The truth: Stop studying English, and start experiencing it like a native.

It’s common to think that the way to become a more fluent speaker is to take classes.

While classes can help you memorize vocabulary and grammar rules, they don’t always assist in actually speaking like a native. Rather than focusing on translations and definitions, it is important to strengthen your usage of English without thinking – something which research has proven isn’t accomplished through traditional classes.

They may even create bad habits, like consciously forming sentences in your head before speaking. Learning English as if it were your first language is key; connecting words and phrases with situations as opposed to relying on translations from your native language to English is essential for achieving fluency.

This is an area we specialize in at EnglishAnyone, setting us apart from other methods of learning.

10. MYTH: Immersion is essential

The truth: An English environment doesn’t help you if you don’t get understandable messages systematically.

Following the advice of “surrounding yourself with English” means more than just changing your device language and watching movies.

It also involves listening to podcasts and taking classes, but most importantly you must review anything you watch or listen to, so that it is truly useful for learning.

This way, you can develop a passive vocabulary to become more fluently in English.

Understandable native content is the key. Each time you get understandable input, you feel yourself becoming a little more fluent… even if you don’t speak.

11. MYTH: Living in an English-speaking country is essential

The truth: How you learn is far more important than where you learn.

Exploring a new country is an amazing experience and can be very valuable for language learners.

However, it’s important to note that living in a native environment does not guarantee fluency even if you stay for an extended period.

Numerous studies, such as those of Dr. Krashen, have highlighted that the most successful language learners had already acquired intermediate level ability before taking this step.

Additionally, traditional classes may not help in improving your ability to speak since they often stifle conversation. By having access to native inputs elsewhere, it is still possible to reach fluency regardless of your location.

12. MYTH: Every day, you should learn 10 new words

The truth: It’s better to learn just one word until you can use it fluently, then learn more.

I know you’re probably in a hurry to get fluent… but learning 10 random words each day typically slows learners down.

Instead, I recommend learning one word or phrase VERY WELL.

It will help you make sure that you understand English at a native level, and teach you how to use the language in all situations. You’ll also learn how to remember words more easily so you can get fluent faster.

You now know the 12 myths that aren’t helping you – and what to do instead!

If you want a proven system to follow so you can feel prepared for real conversations, and have a proven road-map to fluency, then check out Fluent for Life.