Fluency is not just about knowing all the words and knowing how to use them. It’s not about speaking quickly either. Fluency is about feeling comfortable speaking, and speaking in a way that ‘flows’.
Do you know what I mean?
Whatever stage of learning a language you’re at, there are things you can do to sound more fluent. I’m about to share them with you. And don’t be put off if you’re only a beginner or an intermediate learner – you will also benefit from my tips, in the same way a more advanced learner will.
Are you ready? Read on! Or, you can watch my video instead if you like (and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more videos like this one!).
Here’s my advice on how to sound more fluent, regardless of the level of actual fluency you’re at.
1. Pre-prepared phrases
If you want to sound more fluent, it’s good to prepare in advance. What I mean specifically is that you could prepare some phrases that you’re likely to use in every conversation. Let’s call them ‘pre-prepared phrases’. A bit wordy, isn’t it?
So, what kind of phrases do I mean exactly?
Phrases you use to start a conversation, to add a point to a conversation, to react to something the other person has said, or to finish a conversation. They’re the kind of generic phrases you’re likely to use in every conversation you have in your target language.
When you’ve got the phrases ready, you won’t waste time looking for them when you’re busy speaking your target language. Write them down in advance. Practise saying them – a lot. They will become natural and you will sound natural when you use them as a result.
Do you use pre-prepared phrases already? If so, let me know in the comments below!
2. Responses to common questions
This one is a bit similar to the last one – you’re going to have to prepare in advance. Instead of preparing phrases, though, prepare your responses to questions that are likely to come up a lot in the conversations you have in your target language.
For example, your friends might ask you how you are or what you’ve been up to quite a lot. Prepare some answers in advance. Write them down and practise saying them.
Having those ready-made responses will help you sound more relaxed and natural, and it will help you sound more fluent as a result.
This is quite a big one. And many people don’t realise it is! Many people think that speaking a language well is about pronunciation – about knowing how to pronounce individual sounds or words. Yes – pronunciation is important. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to say it’s not.
What I am trying to say, though, is that intonation is also very, very important.
What is intonation, you ask.
Put simply, it’s the musicality of language. It’s how language goes up and down when you speak. When you ask a question, for example, it sounds different to how it does when you make a statement or give an order. It goes up and down in different ways.
And why is it important?
Incorrect intonation can really prevent people from understanding you. So, study the intonation patterns of the language you’re learning and try to imitate them when you speak. It will help you sound so much more fluent.
Before we move on, why don’t you check out my article about how to sound more like a native speaker?
Another thing you can do to sound more fluent is familiarise yourself with the different filler words that exist in your target language.
What are they? They’re basically a type of non-words that native speakers use to fill spaces between words (for example, because they’re hesitating or thinking).
In English, for example, it can be the word ‘like’, which is something many people say even though it doesn’t add any meaning to what they’re saying. Or the word ‘well’ at the start of a sentence.
If you know what the filler words are and know how to use them correctly, you will definitely sound more fluent. Make sure you do a lot of listening practice, listening to informal language, such as interviews, to understand how filler words are used in the language you’re learning.
5. Body language
The final tip I’m going to give you is not about what you say but it’s about how you use body language when you speak. You might think this one is not really a fluency tip but let me tell you something – how you use body language affects how fluent your speaking is perceived to be.
Body language affects how you come across – natural and relaxed, or anxious and lacking in confidence. It can change everything.
Body language is also different in different cultures so make sure you study it carefully and learn to imitate it when you speak your target language.
What do you do to sound more fluent?
Have you got any tips on how to sound more fluent? Share them in the comments below!