Fluency in Spoken English? What is Spoken English ?
Spoken English is an English which is spoken by people, used in conversations.
It will have lots of phrases and incomplete sentences which are ‘understood in context.’
It is a personal communication, intended for a few. Mostly questions, answers, and short sentences/phrases which express an idea.
What is ‘ Fluency ‘ in English ?
Fluency is a speech language pathology term that means the smoothness or flow with which sounds, syllables, words and phrases are joined together when speaking quickly .
Fluency in a language means speaking easily, reasonably quickly and without having to stop and pause a lot.
Fluency is your ability to speak smoothly (not quickly) without noticeable effort or loss of coherence. Poor fluency is normally associated with frequent self-correction, hesitation, pausing or repetition
How many types of Fluency in English ?
There are mainly four types of fluency in English . They are :-
1 . Reading Fluency :-
This is a kind of fluency which is required while reading a text . Reading fluency plays a vital role in gaining an overall fluency in English . It manifests in reading a text fluently with accuracy .
2 . Oral Fluency / Speaking Fluency :-
Oral fluency is that kind of fluidity which comes with a facile tongue . It is a special skill and never comes overnight . A special global competent spoken English trainer is required who can guide .
3 . Oral Reading Fluency :-
It is sometimes distinguished from oral fluency. Oral reading fluency refers to the ability to read words accurately and quickly while using good vocal expression and phrasing.
4 . Compositional / Written Fluency :-
This is also a major type of fluency . It is measured on the basis of facile pen , sentence structure , spelling accuracy , vocabulary usage etc .
What are the Five steps of Fluency ?
There are particularly five steps of fluency . They are :-
1 . Memorize Vocabulary with its Usage in a Sentence :-
Don’t try to mug up a list of words . You can’t digest the entire dictionary . You will be mad very soon if you try .
There is a proper technique to remember the correct word in a correct sentence . Usage of a word really matters a lot . A competent trainer will help you a lot regarding this area .
2 . Exercise your Tongue and Lip Muscles :-
Speaking is related with sounds and thorough exercise with lips and tongue play a great factor of spoken fluency .
Try to speak out loudly alone in a solitary room and listen to your own sound . This will make your tongue facile .
3 . Try to Imitate whom you think Perfect :-
Try to copy the person whom you think competent and perfect . Try to follow his / her style of speaking .
Try to adopt how his / her lip and tongue rolls on . Try to follow the pause , intonation and diction .
4 . Speak with a Smile , Confidence and Breath :-
Confidence is the key factor of spoken English . Confidence will be generated when you will start speaking with a smile and breath .
5 . Listen to Learn and Learn to Listen :-
You will always try to listen others first because a good listener is a good speaker . So try to grow the practice of learning to listen . While listening radio or television or podcast , you must keep a pen and copy with you to note down important things .
What is the Problem in Gaining fluency in Spoken English ?
What are the Barriers of Fluency in Spoken English ?
By being fluent I mean being able to speak or express yourself properly and accurately.
So here, when you speak or express yourself, without stumbling or thinking and translating it from any other language or your mother tongue, it’s called speaking fluent English, rather speaking English fluently.
Particularly people who don’t have English as their mother tongue, generally have this habit of using a brain-to-mouth filter.
At first, they come up with a thought in their mother tongue, then they translate it to their version of proper English (this thing goes on in their head) and then they speak it out.
So that’s not the process you can follow to come up with fluency. Being a fluent English speaker means whatever you think, you spit it out right at that very moment in proper and accurate English (with proper grammar and punctuation and expression) without using that brain-to-mouth filter.
When you can do this, without stumbling or hesitation, and with confidence, you become fluent in English.
If you speak English without sounding end words with proper grammar and proper rhythm and at the same time being polite to the other person is fluent English .
In Indian context if you can speak even grammatically wrong English with whatsoever pronunciation with a bit firm voice and not breaking the speed and not letting the other person to say in between is fluent English .
Of all of the things I address some most common problems of fluency in English , which are narrated as follows :-
1 . Trying to Utter too Quickly :-
If you listen to how native English speakers talk, they do not normally speak very quickly.
Listen to native speakers on the radio, news or movies and this will give you a good idea about how quickly they speak.
Trying to speak too quickly in any language will cause a loss of coherence because your brain simply can’t keep up with your mouth.
Combine this with speaking in a second language under exam conditions and the result is going to be a loss of coherence and lots of mistakes.
2 . Trying to think an Idea :-
You often complain that you can’t think of ‘good’ or ‘correct’ ideas and this causes your fluency to suffer.
This is often caused by a misunderstanding of what is actually being assessed on the speaking test.
If you look at the official marking area in IELTS Speaking test , you will notice that there is no mention of ‘good’ ideas.
As long as you give an answer that is related to the question asked, you will be fine. It is not an ‘ideas’ test or an ‘intelligence’ test, it is a speaking test.
3 . Not having a Proper Structure :-
The problem here is that you run out of things to say and then their fluency normally suffers.
This is for two main reasons –
Firstly, many people think that they can only talk about the suggested things given to them .
It is difficult to only talk about these small things for 2 minutes.
Secondly, most people do not prepare anything else to talk about apart from the suggested things they offer .
4 . Focusing too Much on Grammar and Vocabulary :-
If you focus on them too much you will be constantly thinking of the correct language to use and this will lead to lots of hesitation and pausing.
This ‘language first’ approach is often the result of strict school teachers who prioritized grammar and vocabulary over speaking skills.
5 . Lack of Enough Practice :-
Sometimes you have a great vocabulary and grammar, but you never actually use this language by speaking or writing.
This causes huge problems for both pronunciation and fluency, 50% of your speaking ability .
Like any skill, speaking requires practice and unless you practice often, you are not going to be able to get one of the higher level .
The biggest problem for students is not being able to find partners to speak with. However, there are many ways you can do this.
6 . Trying not to do ‘ Umms ‘ or ‘ Ahhas ‘ :-
You often associate making ‘ummm’, ‘ahh’ and ’emmm’ sounds with poor fluency.
If you hesitate frequently and makes these sounds, then it is a problem, but making them sometimes is not only fine, it is totally natural.
Listen to anyone, in any language, and they naturally make these sounds when chatting with someone.
The problem is that you obsess about not making these sounds in their speaking test and the result is you think about them too much and it is totally unnatural to do this when you are speaking.
This results in a loss of fluency and it takes up too much of your brain power that would be better used on language and ideas .
7 . Too much Nervousness and Stress :-
If you are very nervous and stressed out during speaking , you are going to be less fluent than normal.
Think about someone speaking in public who is very nervous. How is his /her fluency?
The main reason, I think, that people are nervous during their test is that they are not fully prepared .
8 . Too Shy to Practise :-
So many learners tell me that they feel too shy to speak in English or that they are afraid of making mistakes.
you often get nervous in speaking English in front of others and get petrified of making a mistake lest everyone laughs at you .
9 . Lack of Consistency :-
Consistency plays a vital role in fluency . You have to be consistent . It’s important to know that motivation comes and goes.
That even if you’re really excited about learning English right now, you probably won’t be in a few weeks.
10 . Not Getting Enough Time to Practice :-
This is one of the most common issues . Look at your calendar and the way you spend your day.
Ask yourself if you can study English instead of doing something else. If you have a strong why – more about that in my textual book – then this will overcome the how.
Sometimes, saying that you’re busy is a lame excuse. If it’s truly important to you, make it a priority.
11 . Shortage of Vocabulary :-
Vocabulary is built brick by brick. I have observed many time that people get obstacles just because of not getting sufficient words to explain the things and eventually they lose their fluency.
So it is must to build a good vocabulary as it gives us a steady pace . Sometimes when you’re speaking English, you have a sentence in mind, but you’re missing two or three important vocabulary words – and then it becomes difficult to say what you’re thinking .
12 . Lack of Competent Trainer :-
This is one of the most common issues of not gaining fluency . A competent trainer can diagnose the exact problem of the learner and help him or her accordingly and correct those mistakes .
That definitely brings fluency in speaking . Lack of opportunity to speak with an efficient trainer is one of the major causes of low level of fluency .
13 . English as a Second Language :-
Learning a second language is never easy. Learning English as a second language is even less easy.
Particularly if you are learning English outside of an English-speaking country. For instance, English language learners in countries like India , Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Zambia, Malawi, and some other countries face a lot of challenges because English is not the native language of these countries.
Just as there are problems faced in learning English as foreign language, so there are challenges in learning English as second language.
14 . Lack of Listening Habit :-
When you’re having a conversation, you’re only talking about 50% the time – the other 50% is spent listening to the other person speak.
If you don’t understand what the other person is saying, it’s difficult to reply. Then you obviously start saying –
- I beg your pardon.
- I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that.
- Could you repeat that, please?
- Could you say that again, please?
15 . Usage of Words and pronunciation :-
English words can be difficult to pronounce – and when speaking English, you have to consider not only the pronunciation of the individual words, but also the connection between the words in the sentence.
There’s also the “rhythm” and intonation of the sentence to consider – and sometimes your mouth gets confused . Syllable plays a vital role in pronunciation .
What are the six ( 6 ) Pillars of Fluency in Spoken English ?
There are mainly six backbones of Spoken English . They are :-
1 . Knowledge of Grammar :-
You have to be a master of basic grammar . You don’t need to learn Gerund , Participle , Phrases etc . You have to know a bit of Tenses and construction of sentences .
2 . Knowledge of Words :-
A vocabulary, also known as a stock of words or word-stock, is a set of familiar words within a person’s language. A vocabulary, usually developed with age, serves as a useful and fundamental tool for communication and acquiring knowledge .
3 . Knowledge of Pronunciation :-
Pronunciation is the way in which a word or a language is spoken. This may refer to generally agreed-upon sequences of sounds used in speaking a given word or language in a specific dialect, or simply the way a particular individual speaks a word or language .
4 . Speaking Practice with a Competent Trainer :-
You have to practise a lot in speaking with a global professional trainer . You can’t improve your spoken fluidity without continual practice with a proficient trainer .
5 . Confidence :-
Be confident . Don’t get nervous . Whatever you know , start saying that . Initially you get stumbled , but gradually you will improve fluency .
6 . Pay Sufficient Time :-
You have to pay sufficient time in practice in speaking and study . Once you gain the momentum , you have started to upscale your level . This is very important . If you pay less time , you will forget everything and can’t use those words in times of necessity .
What is the difference between Proficiency and Fluency in English ?
In language acquisition circles (at least originally) it refers to the speed or smoothness at which a foreign language travels out of a person’s mouth. ‘Proficiency‘ on the other hand refers to your skill level – how much you actually know and are able to use.
Learning a new language is a skill. The skill defines our ability. In many cases, people think fluency and proficiency are same.
In fact, they might not focus on identifying the difference. Because, they may not get chance to talk with native speakers.
We can identify the difference between fluency and proficiency while speaking with native speakers. I’d like to give few details about fluency and proficiency.
Language Fluency: It is the ability to convey the message accurately by using right words, without any halt while speaking. In simple words, it is the flow of talking.
The language fluency depends on the vocabulary, pronunciation and timing of dialogue delivery. The best practice of listening, speaking, increasing vocabulary and pronunciation will help to improve the language fluency.
Language Proficiency: It is the ability to understand the language and communicate efficiently & effectively.
It is the skill that non-native speakers will learn to get fluency. Based on the speaking, writing, and reading the language proficiency is given to the language learners/speakers.
For every most spoken language in the world there are common proficiency levels like – basic, intermediate, Upper intermediate/professional and advanced level .
- The ability to speak easily and smoothly; especially
2 . The ability to speak a foreign language easily and effectively
3 . The ability to do something in a way that seems very easy
Advancement in knowledge or skill .
Thus Proficiency is a more general term. It can be used in both the receptive (listening, reading) as well as the productive (speaking, writing) field and can say something about all of these subcategories. ‘Fluency’ is a term that is used a lot together with speaking .
What are the different levels of fluency in English language ?
There are mainly three levels of language fluency in spoken English . They are :-
- Beginner: You can have a basic conversation but you may experience difficulty to understand and to make yourself understood. You have a stock of around 10000 stock of words . With this level you can tackle your basic or rudimentary needs .
- Intermediate: You speak and understand with more ease. You can read and understand the news. But your vocabulary still needs to be worked out. At this level you understand a lot but produce less . At this level your probable vocabulary will be nearly 25000 .
- Advanced: You have no understanding issues. You can participate relative ease. People almost mistake you for a native, or even do. At this particular level your stock of words will be around 35000 . At this level you not only understand a lot but the words come out effortlessly, and with your own personal style, slant or opinion on matters clearly shown. You have probably read quite a few books in language, and really enjoys the chance to get new material to read. You will be Very good in grammar and notice other’s errors in high-level discussions (science, literature, philosophy, politics, etc.) .
Can you write your Fluency Attribute in Spoken English on your resume ?
This is completely optional . You can mention it under ” Personal Dossier “. If your language skills aren’t great or they’re not relevant to the role, then it’s best to leave them out and use that line on your CV to convey a key asset or achievement that will help you to secure an interview .
How can you Measure Fluency in Spoken English ?
Oral fluency is computed on the basis of total number of words spoken per minute excluding errors and follies .
This implies words spoken accurately per minute is the level of fluency . Oral fluency rubric is a good mechanism to assess the level of fluency .