No pain, no gain – language fluency practice

Fluency practice is a NO pain, NO gain proposition. Here’s how to get started.


No pain, no gain – language fluency practice

In the beginning, you’ll notice the improvement immediately. It’s functional, practical to learn the beginners language because your point of reference is well, zip, nadda, zilch, absolute zero! As you start climbing the levels things start to get a bit more nuanced don’t they?

The details matter more and more, and it’s becoming frustratingly harder to practice those small details and get over that mountain. The climb always starts off quite easy and gets progressively harder. To reach the peak, takes guts, it takes persistence and perseverance – cause there will be falls, and it HURTS! So…..

Do you want to climb the mountain? You’ll need some tools and guidance to get there and achieve it. Here are some ideas I utilize with students, to help them get there.

It’s the journey not the destination

You’ve heard that before right?

Yea, me too. But it’s accurate and applies to language learning. Start with identifying where you’re cheating or using simple language to express your ideas/thoughts. If you struggle with that, you need a professional to help. Which is why teachers are important for advanced learners as well. I find that my advanced students will do just about anything to avoid using the third conditional and the mixed conditional structures. If you want to achieve a level of fluency you need to be able to speak/write using these structures, they are incredibly valuable because you won’t need 3 sentences to say what you want, but one. It’s referred to being CONCISE! (more on that below)

The journey requires you to practice advanced conditionals, reporting verbs and a bit of inversion. That potentially means doing some exercises, again and again. Not because there will be a test on it but because it provides multiple examples of the usage as well as context for you to internalize and ultimately understand how to use these structures. Here’s a hint: Don’t memorize the structures, that’s a fruitless task. Natives have no idea what a conditional even is, they just intuitively know what to use, and you can make it intuitive by practicing meticulously. You’ll make mistakes, 100% so what? NO PAIN, NO GAIN!

Are you a teacher who needs a conditionals lesson idea? I’ve made one, here you go.

Be Concise

Most of my advanced students don’t really know what this means, but it is a sign of fluency. Do you need a gazilion words to express yourself? Ok maybe not that many, but A LOT! I have many business clients and students who fall back on simple structures and words and use them correctly and are communicative but it’s tiring listening to them because they take so long to get to the point. Not ideal, wouldn’t you say?

This is something that should be easily identifiable if you’re learning a language. A teacher should be able to notice it pretty quickly as well and make their student aware of it, IMMEDIATELY 🙂 From there, as you correctly guessed, work is required. This one is all about the journey because it takes time. It requires what I already mentioned above(grammar structures) but also a heavy dosage of vocabulary practice.

Think of your constant dependency on simple words as a virus that needs to be terminated. It requires you change your habits to boost your immune system so it can fight the enemy(in this case simple language). In order to do this you need to not just do vocabulary exercises but produce written or spoken work trying to use the more sophisticated words. Along side this, you need exposure to the words and this is where reading and listening to English helps a great deal. Want to eliminate that annoying thinking pause?

Read a best-seller that has plenty of natural dialogue in it and avoid Game of Thrones, please! This exposure is helping you internalize the usage so that you might be able to construct something more than upper-intermediate stuff when you write and speak to others. NO PAIN, NO GAIN!

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get to work

Need a fluency practice lesson? I’ve put together plenty of ideas if you are a teacher. Help yourself to it.

Here’s a video I made on fluency that gives you more ideas:

Want more? The ‘Freshen Up Fridays’ newsletter comes out twice a month and offers teacher tips, lesson ideas, and student insights for you. Click the link, submit your email, confirm it and you’re set.

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being concise, esl teaching, improving learning, language learning, learning outcomes
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