Nobody wants to speak ‘textbook English’. The dated expressions and formal phrases you may remember from school can be entirely different from the real-world English used by native speakers. While achieving native-level fluency is a lofty goal, there are many small steps you can take to sound more like a native speaker yourself.
Listen more carefully
Speaking more fluently actually starts with improving your listening skills. Listening to a range of accents and different speakers will help you to mimic their speech patterns and sound more fluent in your own speech.
Watching a film or listening to the radio is a great place to hear real-world English. You’ll pick up new vocabulary and also get more comfortable with the natural intonation of natively-spoken English.
Of course, our online English school is also full of listening exercises and mini movies to help improve your listening.
By listening to native speakers, you’ll undoubtedly pick up a few funny phrases known as idioms. While these may not make sense when taken literally, they are used all the time in casual spoken English.
Colorful phrases like in the blink of an eye [very fast] or it’s a piece of cake [it’s easy] can add a level of sophistication to your English and make you sound more like a native speaker.
Get to grips with slang
Like idioms, slang is regularly used by native speakers, almost unconsciously. You’ll find that English slang has regional differences, so using distinctive words like the locals is key sounding more like a native. For instance, a Brit may say that they’re “knackered” while an American from the south use “tuckered out”. They both mean that they’re very tired.
Tip: Remember, slang is generally considered informal. Be aware when using it in professional situations.
Improve your pace and clarity
If you’re trying to sound more like a native English speaker, what you say is as important as how you say it. Improving the pace and clarity of your speaking will go a long way to improving your fluency and help native speakers to better understand you.
Reading aloud in English is a great way to work on the clarity of your pronunciation. If you’ve spent enough time listening to native speakers, try to mimic the way they talk. Allow your voice to rise and fall with the natural flow of the language.
Need a little extra practice? Direct English Live has Advanced Speech Recognition (ASR) built into many of the lessons in our online school. This clever software helps you to hone your pronunciation and speak more clearly and correctly.
Talk with a native speaker
This is the most important step you can take to sound more like a native English speaker.
Whether it’s at the airport or in a live online class with one of our teachers, simply having a chat with a native speaker is the fastest way to improve your own English fluency. Many non-native speakers are nervous to talk at first, but the more you do it, the more confident you’ll become.