1. Don’t study grammar too much
This rule might sound strange to you and to many ESL students, but it is one of the important rules. If you want to pass examinations, then study grammar. However, if you want to be fluent in English, then you should try to learn English without studying the grammar. Studying grammar will only slow you down and confuse you. You will think about the grammar rules when creating sentences instead of naturally saying a sentence like a native English speaker.
2. Learn and study phrases
Many students learn vocabulary and try to put many words together to create a proper sentence. It amazes me how many words they know, but they cannot create a proper sentence. The reason is because they didn’t study phrases. When children learn a language, they learn both words and phrases together. Likewise, you need to study and learn phrases.
If you know 1000 words, you might not be able to say one correct sentence, but if you know one phrase, you can make hundreds of correct sentences. If you know 100 phrases, you will be surprised at how many correct sentences you will be able to say. Finally, when you know only 1000 phrases, you will be almost a fluent English speaker. So don’t spend hours and hours learning many different words. Use that time to study phrases instead and you will be closer to English fluency.
3. Don’t translate
When you want to create an English sentence, do not translate the words from your mother tongue. The order of the words is probably different and you will be both slow and incorrect by doing this. Instead, learn phrases and sentences, so you don’t have to think about the words you are going say. It should be automatic.
Another problem with translating is that you will be trying to incorporate grammar rules that you have learned. Translating and thinking about the grammar to create English sentences should be avoided.
4. Reading and listening is not enough. Practice speaking what you hear!
Reading, listening, and speaking are the most important aspects of any language including English. However, speaking is the only requirement to be fluent. It is normal for babies and children to learn speaking first, become fluent, then start reading, and then writing. So the natural order for learning a language is listening, speaking, reading, then writing.
Even though the natural order is listening, speaking, reading, then writing, the order for ESL students is reading, listening, speaking, then writing. The main reason is because when you learn a second language, you need to read material to understand and learn it.
In order to speak English fluently, you need to practice speaking. Don’t just stop at the listening part. Speak out loud the material you are listening to and practice what you hear. Practice speaking out loud until your mouth and brain can do it without any effort. By doing so, you will be able to speak English fluently.
5. Submerge yourself
You will notice that many people who are good English speakers are the ones who studied in an English speaking school. They can speak English not because they went to an English speaking school, but because they had an environment where they can be around English speaking people constantly. However, there are some people who study abroad and learn very little. That is because they went an English speaking school, but found friends from their own country and didn’t practice English.
You don’t have to go abroad to become a fluent English speaker. You only need to surround yourself with English. You can do this by making rules with your friends that you will only speak English. You can also constantly surround yourself in English by listening to the English podcasts that you can download from Google. As you can see, you can achieve results by changing what your surroundings are. Submerge yourself in English and you will learn several times faster.
6. Study correct material
Studying English with a friend who is not a native speaker is both good and bad. You can motivate each other and point out basic mistakes, but you might pick up bad habits from one another if you are not sure about what is correct and incorrect sentences. There is a saying “practice makes perfect”; however, this is far from the truth. Practice only makes what you are practicing permanent. If you practice the incorrect sentence, then you will have perfected saying the sentence incorrectly. Therefore, it is important that you study correct material that is commonly used by most people.
In other words, study English material that you can trust, that is commonly used, and that is correct.