How do I get fluent in English?

One of my students asked me how they could improve their English fluency. My first thought was, ‘just practise more’.  But the students I work with here in the UK tend to be using English at work anyway and they are getting plenty of practice. The main problem with lack of fluency is not lack of ready vocabulary, but it is in fact down to connected speech issues such as incorrect stress patterns (not giving vowel sounds their full value, or not reducing them when necessary).

My main tip for the day:

Pay attention to the ‘schwa’- the weak sound /ə/ in English speakers. This is the most common sound in English and becomes the default sound for many vowel sounds when used in a sentence. Grammar words such as prepositions, pronouns and possessive adjectives in sentences get reduced, for example, to:
for = fə
of = əv
my = ma, mi or mə
your = yə
her = hə

So, ‘What were you doing in the lesson?’ should sound something like: ‘wo wə yə duininthə lesən’?

Below is a great video about short vowel sounds on BBC learning English and I love to help students with this area of connected speech in my lessons:…/gram…/pron/sounds/vowel_short_5.shtml