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Language is the road map of a culture.
⭐ Rita Mae Brown, an American writer and activist.
✔Lesson transcript: https://adeptenglish.com/lessons/learn-english-language-3-stages-fluency/
Don't let language barriers hold you back any longer. Join our community of successful English speakers and unlock your full potential. Start your journey to English fluency with Adept English today!
Today, we're exploring where you are in your English fluency journey. I think it's a good idea to take some time out and work out where we are in our efforts to learn something new. It's important that we see how far we have come and how far we have still to go. In this Adept English podcast we define the three stages of speaking English which will help you recognize your fluency level and help you understand where you are in your language learning process.
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One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.
⭐ Frank Smith, a British psycholinguist
A common misconception about learning to speak English fluently through listening/language acquisition is that it happens automatically or effortlessly, like osmosis. While listening is an essential and effective method of learning a language, it requires consistent practice, focus, and attention to achieve fluency. It's not a passive process that happens overnight, but rather an active and engaging learning experience that requires dedication, perseverance, and the right tools and techniques.
I've covered why language learning through listening is so powerful in previous podcasts:
- Listening comprehension is a more reliable predictor of language proficiency than reading comprehension.
- Listening to spoken English will improve your grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation skills more effectively than reading or writing.
- Listening to authentic spoken English, such as in podcasts, movies, radio or TV shows, can enhance cultural understanding and help you to adapt to different accents and dialects.
As a teacher, I can confidently say that the key benefit of participating in this lesson for a new language learner is the development of a strong foundation in British English fluency. By engaging with our lessons, you'll acquire essential listening, understanding, and speaking skills in a fun, accessible, and tailored manner. This comprehensive approach will boost your confidence and help you progress effectively on your English learning journey.
- Our supportive learning environment helps build your confidence, easing the fear of embarrassment while you develop your English skills.
- With our engaging lessons, you'll learn to communicate effectively, enabling you to form meaningful connections with people from diverse backgrounds.
- By enhancing your English fluency, our lessons open doors to exciting career opportunities and help you stand out in the global job market.
- Through our immersive British English lessons, you'll gain access to a wealth of cultural experiences, entertainment, and educational content.
- Our comprehensive English lessons prepare you for travel, study, or living abroad, empowering you to fully embrace and enjoy the English-speaking world.
Discover more English fluency secrets! Follow and subscribe to our podcast now.
Will this lesson help improve my pronunciation?
- Absolutely! Our lessons focus on British English accents, aiding you in refining your pronunciation.
Is the content suitable for my beginner level?
- Yes, our lessons are tailored for new learners, making them accessible and easy to follow.
How can I practice speaking with these lessons?
- While listening, pause and repeat phrases aloud. For more practice, try speaking with other learners or native speakers.
Are these lessons engaging and enjoyable?
- Our lessons are designed to be fun and engaging, keeping you motivated throughout your learning journey.
Can I learn at my own pace?
- Definitely! Our podcast format allows you to learn at a pace that suits your schedule and personal progress.
- Whirring: a sound that sounds like something is spinning fast
- Osmosis: when you learn something slowly and naturally without realizing it
- Tailored: made especially for something or someone
- Dream: what you imagine when you sleep
- Humour: something that is funny
- Authentic: real, not fake or copied
- Pesky: something that causes problems or is annoying
- Brilliant: very clever or talented
- Corridor: a long hallway with rooms on either side
- Frustrating: when something is difficult or makes you feel discouraged
Hi there. Today let’s talk about your fluency in English. You’re listening to Adept English podcasts because you would like to be fluent in English, right? So how far along that journey are you? What might it look like as you go through the different stages of fluency? Let’s take a look at this today - and you’ll be able to see where you are in your English language learning journey and what the next stages might look like.
Don’t forget we have other useful podcasts on your English language learning journey - for example Adept English podcast 611, six eleven. This one gives you advice on what you can do to move your learning forward - practical tips. But today, let’s just find out where you are.
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 one of the things that we say at Adept English - if you want to become fluent in English, then listening and understanding comes first. It may be that you can listen to this podcast and understand most of it. Great if you’re there. It takes a lot of hours, a lot of listening and a lot of hard work to get to this stage. But you may be worried that you can’t speak. If you try to speak English, it’s really hard to find the words quickly. Your speech is very slow, your words are limited and your speaking is nowhere near as good as your listening. I say ‘Great - this is normal!’ Listening and understanding always come first - speaking comes later. If this is where you are, then keep listening - but make sure that you give yourself opportunity to speak as well. Make sure you get to practise speaking and it will improve. Your understanding is good - you’re at the start of your journey into speaking.
Once you’re beginning to speak - what does the process look like as you move towards fluency? Today I’m going to give you three descriptions, three stages of speaking English. And you may recognise them. Or you may find that you’re partway in one stage and just moving up to the next stage. Great if you are. So let’s talk about three stages of fluency - what do they look like?
Stage One. So you’re comfortable with listening and understanding - most of the time. You get what’s going on, you can follow a podcast like this one - quite easily. But, when you start to speak, it’s a different story. You might find that grammar is difficult - your mind is whirring - that’s WHIRRING, having to work really hard to come up with the right words. And the verbs? Well yes, they’re a pain in most languages! Maybe sometimes you can arrive at the right tense, and maybe sometimes you can’t. If you say ‘Yesterday I go to the shop’ then your listener is left to work out that probably you mean ‘Yesterday I went to the shop’, but they will know what you mean. This isn’t a problem - this is a stage that everyone who speaks a language fluently has passed through.
It may be in Stage One that sometimes there’s still a little bit of translating still going on. Sometimes you think of the word in your language, because you can’t think of that word in English. But hopefully, not too much translating - because if you’ve learned through listening as we recommend, this doesn’t happen as much.
In Stage One, it may be that native speakers have to slow down so that you can understand them? Or you have to ask them to repeat themselves quite a bit. Again, even if they’re a bit grumpy and not very understanding - don’t feel bad! You’re starting to speak and this is a phase that everyone goes through.
In Stage One, your conversation - the other person might be speaking more of the time and you’re only speaking a little bit of the time. The other person might be working quite hard to help you express what you mean, arrive at the right words. They may be ‘filling in the blanks’. But actually, you’re communicating - and that’s great! Carry on!
If you’re in Stage One, just accept that probably you’re making mistakes, quite a bit of the time and often you won’t know it. Usually this meets with sympathy and understanding. If you think of meeting someone who’s learning your language - and you can tell that they’re at a fairly early stage in their speaking, then you’re not going to be mean to them, are you? You help them along. And probably you admire them for ‘having a go’, learning your language. We all know language learning isn’t easy. And no matter how accomplished we are at a language, we all have a complete reset, if we start to learn a new one. We’re all at the beginning again!
The last way to tell that you’re in the first stage of speaking English - it can be difficult sometimes to think of another way to say something. You may know only one simple word for something, whether it’s a noun or a verb - you know only the most common word, the obvious word for something. A sign that you’re moving beyond this? Well, you might be able to think of another way to say something and that might happen after the conversation is finished! A bit frustrating! ‘Why couldn’t I think of that at the time?’ But actually this is good! This is progress!
Stage Two. You will start to notice as you progress that you’re speaking more in a conversation. It’s not so much hard work for the other person. You may not be speaking for half of the time in the conversation, but you’re able to speak more of the time - and the other person is listening more, instead of having to help you find the right words and ‘fill in your blanks’.
Sometimes it’s in this second stage when you start to become more aware of making mistakes! Again, remember it’s progress. You were making mistakes in Stage One - you just didn’t know it! But in Stage Two, you do. And of course, this can be hard, it can be difficult - perhaps you even feel less accomplished, less able in English at this stage, because you’re aware of your mistakes. But you are moving forward. It’s important not to be too self-critical at this point. It’s a just stage. Everyone who learns a language passes through this stage.
In Stage Two, you can think of more than one way to say something. You’ve got a bigger variety of adjectives to describe something - or you might know several nouns which mean almost the same thing. An umbrella, a parasol or a sunshade? You start to be able to think of synonyms - big, large, massive, huge. Your conversation gets a whole lot more descriptive - and interesting! And sometimes if you can’t think of another way to say something - and you say ‘Arrgggh’ - and you feel like you’re back in Stage One. But actually you’re not because when the conversation is finished, when the moment has passed, you’ll probably think of another brilliant way to say something when it’s too late. Again - frustrating, but progress!
What else in Stage Two? Well, those pesky verbs - ‘pesky’, PESKY means ‘they’re a pain.’ But in this stage, you find yourself more often using the correct tense or form of the verb, more of the time without thinking about it? Whoopee - that’s great! It just needs a bit more practice to go further.
And two funny things that start to happen in Stage Two. Firstly maybe when you’re speaking your own language, English accidentally pops out instead! When you’re further forward, your brain will just switch automatically between the languages that you know. But on the way to that, perhaps you might randomly start to speak in English to the wrong person, to someone who has no idea what you’re saying. It’s your brain having a moment - randomly splurging out English words! Wonderful stuff!
An illustration of a persons brain. Boost your British English with Adept English: Fun lessons turn listeners into speakers! Grab your FREE English lessons now!
And the other funny thing in Stage Two? Well, maybe you start to dream in English - that’s DREAM. Or English words start to feature in your dreams. As a psychotherapist, there’s a whole fascinating topic here - if you’re bilingual, what language do you dream in? Are your languages associated with different times in your life? Or is it that there’s one language which you speak at home with your family and another language which you associate with work perhaps?
Finally Stage Three. Well, a good sign that you’re getting to an advanced level of fluency in English - you start automatically using English grammar correctly. You don’t really have to think about it? You just speak and it comes out, largely correct! This is a little bit like in your own language. You have made English your own. You feel ‘yourself’ when you’re speaking English. You can express yourself freely. It feels good. But don’t forget to give the credit to all those hours spent listening. This is why you’re able to do this - listening practice first and then adding in speaking practice as well - this is how you got here!
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Another sign that you’re in this Stage Three, you’re approaching fluency, you can understand everyday speech without really concentrating on it. And you can respond and speak without it needing your full attention. Maybe you just don’t realise how competent you are now.
Two more signs of fluency? Well, you start to be able to do social situations. You can understand the subtleties of social conversation. You might work out the relationships between people. You’re part of the group, you can socialise. And secondly - I think that you have really arrived in your language learning, if you can understand humour in English? HUMOUR. That’s a high level. There are cultural references, double meanings, but if you can ‘laugh in the right places’ and respond appropriately, you really are fluent. Stage Three is easy to recognise because English feels much more like it’s our own language. Comfortable - like an old pair of shoes. And in fact, English has become your language at that point - or one of them, at least!
I hope that helps you see where you are on your English language learning journey. And also what’s ahead. And if you can identify yourself somewhere in what I’ve described, then I hope that this is encouraging to you - you can see what’s coming next! Don’t forget - anyone who’s learned a language has been through all of these stages. Any of these stages are a perfectly good place to be.
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