How to Speak English like a Native Speaker
Learning how to speak English like a native English speaker just got easier with these 3 tips from my recent (and second) “Everyday English” YouTube Live lesson. I get emails and messages very often asking me for fluency tips, and asking for lessons about speaking English more naturally. I know you, my English learner and English lover, want to improve your fluency, and a part of that is sounding more natural when speaking English.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of English textbooks teaching language that’s not very natural. Don’t worry, though! We’ll cover that in your first tip below, and in this live lesson.
Don’t forget to join me this Saturday, and every Saturday at 14:30 (UTC), on YouTube for more everyday English lessons. These lessons will help teach you useful English for you to communicate better at work, in school, while traveling, and in your everyday life!
If you missed the last live lesson, or need to review the information again, here it is for you to watch! I ask questions for my learners watching live and for you, watching the replay and reading this blog lesson. So grab you pencil and paper, and get ready to learn some English!
Now let’s review what we talked about in this lesson
How to Speak like a Native English Speaker
1. Starting a conversation, saying hello, and greetings.
Learn how to start a conversation more naturally with greetings other than what you’ve learned in textbooks. As I mentioned in the video, textbooks are boring and often give you outdated information. I remember teaching at an English school and the beginner’s level English book taught this as a common greeting (conversation):
John: Hi, Mary.
Mary: Hello, John. How are you?
John: I’m fine, thanks. And you?
Mary: I’m fine, thank you.
NO! Very few people I know, if anybody, actually talk like that. Why? It’s so boring and impersonal! The word “fine” really means “ok”, satisfactory, or not so good. Why would you want to learn how to respond by saying you’re only “ok”? It’s much more common to use words that actually represent your mood. By using adjectives (and adverbs) other than, “fine,” you’re more likely to connect with the person you’re talking to, and much more likely to express yourself more naturally. So if you’re in a positive state, you can respond with: good, great, fantastic, doing well, I’ve been good, life’s great!, etc… If you’re feeling negative, then consider: not so good, not great, I’ve been better, pretty bad, etc…
There are also many other ways to say “how are you?”. Some of these alternatives could be: how are ya? (more natural sounding pronunciation), how’s it going?, how have you been?, how’s life?, you doing alright?. Additionally, you can ask “what” questions, such as: what’s new? what’s going on?, what’s happening?.
*Just a note that these “what” questions often have responses similar to the question, “what are you doing?”
2. Idioms, expressions, and collocations
In order to sound more like a native speaker, you’ll want to increase your use of idioms, phrasal verbs, and collocations. These happen naturally in native speaker’s English use, and idioms/phrasal verbs/collocations are used in informal settings, casual conversations, and even formal business-like settings. You can learn idioms, phrasal verbs, and collocations just like you do any other vocabulary. I recommend browsing the many lessons here on this blog to begin.
You can use the search bar on the right-hand side of this page and type in “idioms” or “phrasal verbs” to browse the lessons.
As I mentioned on “60 Second Saturday” a couple of weeks ago on Instagram, after you learn new vocabulary, you need to immediately start using it. So make sure you use new idioms/phrasal verbs/collocations in sentences, with a conversation partner, and don’t forget to create your discussion questions!
In this live lesson, I taught an “idiom of the day”, which was “to miss the boat”. The idiom, to miss the boat, means to miss out on or not experience an opportunity.
For example: All of my friends bought a cheap ticket to Europe on sale, but I was working and couldn’t buy it. I missed the boat.
Collocations, as reviewed in this video lesson, are words that are commonly used together. I gave the example of fast food. The words “fast” and “quick” have similar meanings; however, we don’t call McDonald’s “quick food”, we call it “fast food”. The use of “fast” and “food” together is an example of a common collocation.
We also reviewed collocations with the verb “miss”. We looked at the words “class”, or “opportunity”. It’s common to use these words together, which is why they’re collocations. Some languages, like Portuguese, use the verb “lose” for these situations; however, not in English.
3. Native speakers use contractions, and you should too!
You’ll notice that when you watch TV or movies, or speak with native speakers, they will almost always use contractions. So if you want to sound more like a native speaker, you should get comfortable and confident using a variety of English contractions as well. There are many different contractions; however, today we are focusing on contractions with “will”, the verb “to be”, and the auxiliary “has/have”.
I’ll, you’ll, it’ll he’ll, she’ll, they’ll, we’ll
I’m, you’re, it’s, he’s, she’s, they’re, we’re
I’ve, you’ve it’s, he’s, she’s, they’ve, we’ve
For pronunciation, it’s really important to understand how your mouth and lips should be, because your mouth position affects pronunciation immensely. So you can watch the video above to see how the sounds should look. Additionally, you can listen to how they are said in this live video lesson (how they should sound), and practice the words with me as I same them. I pause, and give you time to practice! Many students think that the contractions with “will” are difficult, so try and connect them with real words (that exist) to practice.
Many students think that the contractions with “will” are difficult, so try and connect them with real words (that exist) to practice.
For example: he’ll = heel we’ll = wheel I’ll = aisle
A common issue I see with the word, “I’m” is not closing your lips together to make the “m” sound. Check out the video to see how that should be done.
Practice makes Perfect
Congratulations! With these 3 tips, you’re on your way to sounding more like a native speaker!
It’s time to practice, because if you don’t immediately use what you learned, you’re likely to forget. So I want you to try and start a conversation using one of the new greetings that you’ve learned in this lesson today. You can use the greeting with a friend, family member, or your English conversation partner. If you don’t have an English conversation partner, then you can join my monthly training program and get connected with more natural English & find a speaking partner. Click here to join!
Next, I want you to try and create a sentence using the new idiom, as well as the collocation you learned in this video and lesson. You could write the sentence examples below in the comments. You can also try answering this question and then creating your own discussion question.
When’s the last time you missed the boat on something? Have you ever missed a great opportunity?
Finally, to practice your writing and to improve your pronunciation, I want you to write a text utilizing the contractions of “will”, “has/have”, and the present tense of the verb “to be”. Using the present tense of “be”, you could write some facts about you, a friend, and then talk about experiences you’ve had using the present perfect. You can end your text writing about some uncertain plans for the future using “will”
I’m Jennifer, and I’m from the United States. My husband is from Brazil. He’s a chef, and we’ve lived in Brazil together. I’ve also traveled around Europe. Next year I think I’ll visited friends in Australia. If not, maybe I’ll go to Germany.
When you’re done writing your own text, you can practice reading it out loud focusing on the accurate use of contractions to improve your pronunciation.
Do you have another tip that you like to share with us to sound more like a native speaker? You can leave it in the comments below! Don’t forget to join us next Saturday for the next live lesson.
Happy Studying! ♥
The best way to continue improving your English fluency is with guided training and focused materials. If you want more practice with speaking and using natural English – it’s time for The Conversation Club!
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