Hi there. In today’s English speaking practice podcast, I’m going to look at two different parts of English fluency. Did you know that there are two types of fluency? Mental and physical. We are going to explain both types of fluency, and share with you some easy to do exercises that will help you improve both mental and physical fluency.
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I’m often asked, what is being fluent in spoken English? What does it look like? I’d say that it looks like someone who can join in on an everyday English conversation with native English speakers. Where you can keep up with the comprehension speed necessary to stay in the conversation. And you can join in at any time to add your views. It’s getting your spoken English fluency to a level where your speaking is on autopilot.
To me, that’s what spoken English fluency looks like. A level of spoken English where you are not consciously thinking about translation and how to form words. Once you reach this level of proficiency with your English language, you can really focus on expressing your ideas and the content of what you want to say rather than the technical details of how to say it.
So working on your English fluency, until your ability to speak or write without hesitation or repetition, has to be a big part of your English learning. And working on both types of fluency is part of that. Mental fluency is the ability to think quickly and clearly and recall vocabulary and phrases as you need them. While physical fluency is the ability to move your mouth to achieve the correct sounds in a natural and effortless way. You need to work on both to achieve fluency.
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Hi there. Today I'm going to talk about fluency in English. You will already be working on your 'mental fluency' because you are using Adept English to help you learn. But let's talk about a different type of fluency today and some exercises which will help you arrive at 'physical fluency'.
Don't know what that is? I'll explain. So listen on to find out.
Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.
So at Adept English, we encourage you to learn English the natural way through listening with our Listen & Learn method. That's why we provide you with all this lovely English language listening material.
The idea is that I help you with the difficult words and you understand most of what I'm saying and you get great listening practice. It works as long as you can understand at least 70% of what I'm saying 'on first listen'. And I aim to make it interesting, so I give you 'juicy' topics, things which are topical to keep you listening, to keep you interested and to make that listening easier.
If you've been doing Adept English for a while, you'll know how this works and you'll know that it does work because you'll notice your English has improved as a result.
What listening is doing is also preparing the ground for fluency in speaking as well. That's perhaps less obvious, but it is true. You do need to practise speaking, of course. You need to hook up these various parts of your brain. So the understanding bit needs to learn to work, to supply your mouth with the right words - quickly enough, when you come to speak. And speaking practice plays its part in that. But a lot of the preparation work for speaking fluently in English is done through enhancing your listening and your understanding.
So we might say in this, that you are working on your 'mental fluency'. 'Mental', M E N T A L means 'of the mind'. So you're getting your mind practiced enough to be able to think quickly in English.
Your brain needs to be able to decode English language quickly and supply the right words.
But there's something else that you need - another type of fluency. So as well as 'mental fluency', you need 'physical fluency'. That's P H Y S I C A L. 'Mental' and 'physical' are two words, which are often used to mean opposite things in English. So we might talk about your 'mental health', meaning 'the health of your mind' and your 'physical health', meaning 'the health of your body'.
So 'mental fluency' is this learned ability of your brain to understand English and supply the right words, when you come to speak - that's your 'mental fluency'. But you need to work also on your 'physical fluency'. And what I mean by that is the ability of your mouth physically to make the right sounds and make them quickly enough so that you're prepared for speaking.
The sounds that we make in English may be very different from the ones in your own language.
There are all kinds of challenges when it comes to pronunciation. One example, and we cover this in our course is 'Consonant Clusters'. So that's groups of consonants. This is a very common thing in English, and it may not be in your language. So an example, my favourite example of a word with lots of 'Consonant Clusters' - 'catchphrase'.
So 'catchphrase' - have a go at saying that. There are eight consonants and only two sounded vowels in that word. So quite a lot of 'Consonant Clusters'. 'Consonant Clusters' and many other challenges are covered in our English Consonants Pronunciation Course, which is available to buy on our website at adeptenglish.com.
And we currently have a 50% discount code for the summer. So just have a look below and you'll be able to find that code.
So what about 'physical fluency'? What kinds of things can you do to help your 'physical fluency'? Really, it's like gymnastics for your mouth. You've got to get your mouth moving and it's like going to the gym for your tongue and the muscles in your mouth. That's what we're trying to do today. I'll give you two examples of ways that you can exercise your mouth and attain greater physical fluency.
So one good way to do this is through speed reading. So that's reading something out loud in English at speed. You can practise reading out a passage in English as fast as you can. It will be a little bit like going on a running machine for your English speaking mouth. It will increase the fitness of your mouth.
Let me 'have a go' myself to show what I mean. And for a little entertainment value, maybe. This is a passage from the Sunday Times newspaper, dated 17th of July 2022. It's talking about a very British institution, the ice cream van and how this is being affected by climate change. So listen to me, have a go at speed reading.
Mr Whippy ice cream has become an integral part of the British summer since the 1960s, but it might not be for much longer. The majority of ice cream vans need to keep their diesel engines running to operate their 'Whippy machines'. But festival and fairground organizers are increasingly asking for engines to be switched off, to reduce carbon emissions. Councils also want engines turned off in prime spots, such as sea fronts, harbours, playgrounds, and parks. t
Just a bit of vocabulary for that one. Their 'whippy machines'? Mr Whippy in the UK is a particular type of soft ice cream. It comes out of a tap and it's the sort of ice cream that has a little point on the top. Whereas where they talk about 'scoop ice cream'. So 'scoop' S C O O P - that's like a big spoon that you might use to serve your ice cream.
So ' scoop ice cream' is a different type. ' Cornetto', C O R N E T T O is a brand name for packaged ice cream. And what's 'a 99'? You may well ask. A 99 is a Mr Whippy ice cream with a chocolate flake in the top. If you put into Google or any other search engine, 'What is a 99 ice cream?' and click on 'Images', you'll see lots of photographs of 99s. And a 'boon for business' in the last sentence means a 'boost', an increase in business.
A photograph of a flake 99 ice cream with a Devon beach behind. Today we explain the difference between mental and physical fluency and how you can train yourself to speak more fluently.
So hopefully that was a good explanation for most of the words in that speed reading passage that you might not have known. Have a go yourself at reading that out quickly about the ice cream vans.
When you've tried, perhaps have another listen to the recording where I do it and then try again. You might notice your mouth feels quite exercised after you've done that.
The second good way to increase your physical fluency, to exercise your mouth, find songs in English that you like. There are thousands of British songs or American would do as well.
You're 'spoilt for choice', actually, in terms of British music. British music is listened to around the world, so it's quite probable that you already know some English music with English words. You may have favourites even. Even if you don't, there are plenty of songs that you can use for this purpose to help you learn English, so singing along with lyrics that you have heard very often.
I suggest some of the old songs or 'oldies' are often the best for this. You could listen to Beatles songs and the lyrics or the words to the songs are always available online. You just need to type in 'lyrics', L Y R I C S. And the song title into your search engine, and you will find the words to the songs that you're familiar with.
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Some of the words are surprising. You might have misunderstood or misheard the lyrics. But that will allow you to sing along.
Abba songs are also quite good if you want to learn English. Yes, I know that they're Swedish, but their English, their English lyrics are always very clear and easy to understand. I'm sure you'll make your own choice about which English songs to listen to, and to learn to sing along with.
But remember, this will help the muscles in your mouth develop in the right way and you will attain greater 'physical fluency' using these two methods. And they're quite good fun as well. I'm not asking you to do things which are really horrible hard work, am I?! It's not like learning vocabulary lists. So this podcast is giving you some homework today. Some things to be getting on with. These are techniques, which you can add to your repertoire of things you do to help you learn English.
Don't forget to listen to this podcast a number of times, and do have a go at that speed reading test.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at adeptenglish.com