13 Tips for Lifelong English Fluency

Achieve Your GoalsWhat is the secret to reaching fluency in a language?

There are no absolute answers. There are millions of methods and tests and programs that attempt to guide us to this goal, and as useful as these are in limited ways, most of them fail to reveal to us the essential ingredients to success.

There are certain ingredients for fluency, such as effective communication, grammatical competence, cultural awareness, and confidence, but at the end of the day, the recipe for fluency is unique to each individual learner.

Today we’re going to show you how to build your super effective recipe.

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Finding Your English Learning Path

1. Clarify WHY You Want to Learn: Ask yourself this important question. Do a good job clarifying this and use your answer as your inspiration and guide for the entire process. Do you really want to learn? Does the motivation come from you or from what others expect? Until your WHY comes from within you, in a way that you can access and forms part of your attitude, your path to fluency will probably be difficult, unimaginative, and inefficient.

However, if your “why” is strong and sincere, it will inspire you and energize your entire process. The best language learners know why they are learning, and it isn’t because they have to.

To learn more about clarifying your goals, check out the article, The #1 Reason Why You Aren’t Learning As Much English As You Want

2. Organize Your Life, Plan Your Process, and Set Goals: Research different methods, schools, and programs for learning. Be aware that high quality alternative options and opportunities for learning are increasing every day. Do you want to study online, with a school, or with a private teacher? Do you have a clear idea of what this will demand from your life?

Talk to friends who have already studied and those who have been successful, as well as a variety of schools. Sit in on classes to see which one you connect best with. And finally, set goals not only with your English (the final result), but also with your attitude and approach to the whole process.

To learn more about setting goals, check out the article, Simple But Powerful: Creating Goals for English Learning Success

3. Build A Support Network: Ask for the support of your family and friends. Search for mentors, people who have already been successful, teachers and friends in the real world, as well as virtual language learning communities (such as the RealLife Global Community).

The more successful language learners you surround yourself with, the more their attitudes, strategies, support, and confidence will rub off on you. Furthermore, in times of confusion, these people can and will help you.

4. Effective Methods / Effective Learning Styles: There are universally effective learning methods and there are personal learning styles. The Communicative approach, for example, is a very effective method for learning languages for any type of learner. In fact, this is how we learn naturally.

The Communicative Approach treats meaningful communication as the vehicle for learning a language, focusing primarily on function rather than structure (which isn´t ignored, but rather something that plays a complementary role in the process.)

Understanding your learning style would be to recognize how you as an individual learn. Are you more visual, auditory or kinesthetic? As a general rule, things you usually like doing are probably more in tune with your learning style. If you learn better visually, maybe TV shows and movies are your best bet, while if you’re an auditory learner, podcasts and music could be helpful.

If you don’t know how you learn, pay attention as you go along and experiment with different strategies because it’s going to teach you a lot about yourself. This is a big reason why people who learn a second language as an adult have a much easier time learning a third. They are more aware of how they learn.

5. Take Responsibility For Your Learning: Just do it. Dive in head first. Learn to enjoy it. If you aren’t engaged, don’t quit, but rather take responsibility and find out what is going wrong. If you aren’t learning, ask yourself why not. Maybe there are circumstances and other people who play a role in your learning process, but nobody can learn the language for you.

You can’t blame it on a lack circumstances, time, money or opportunities. You have to want it bad enough to overcome the external obstacles. Worthwhile accomplishments aren’t easy, but if you enjoy the process, it´s well worth the payoff.  But also, sometimes taking responsibility means having the courage to change things around.

On the Path to English Fluency

6. Have the Right Attitude (Enjoy the Journey AND the Destination): Constantly evaluate your attitude towards learning English. Learning a language is not like learning math or science. If this is how you learned English in high school, it’s time to change your perspective.

Effective learning is engaging, interesting, and a something that brings the topic to life. Effective learning is to enjoy the process AND strive for the result. Think back to an experience where you enjoyed learning, where time flew by and you always looked forward to it.

Accessing this type of learning is not easy, but if you follow the above tips/ steps and have an idea of what it should feel like, you can start gathering the attitudes, support networks and resources to facilitate it. This will bring you an enjoyable process as well as the achievement of your goals.

7. Dedicate Yourself Every Day/ Create Routines: Be consistent, dedicated, and diligent with your efforts.  Excellence is a daily habit, not a twice a week class. You should insert English in your life every single day, or at least 5 or 6 days a week, because nobody reaches excellence in anything without daily application.  You probably don’t need to “study” every day, but find convenient moments in your life where you can create routines that allow you to play around with English, enjoy it, and learn in a relaxed way.

Some recommendations are Lifestyle English (covered in #10), which would include learning with music, TV shows, podcasts, in addition to online communities and resources.

8. Don’t Accept Mediocrity: Don’t accept mediocrity from yourself or from the people you depend on for learning. To reiterate the above point about excellence, mediocrity is treating English like a twice a week hobby. Accept that you’re not going to be 100% perfect on your path to fluency, but you can learn a lot at every step, and you don’t have to ever settle into an attitude of mediocrity.

It’s easy to sleepwalk through life with mediocre attitude, a mediocre plan, a mediocre goal, a mediocre purpose, a mediocre school or teacher, or mediocrity on any of these 13 tips, but you get what you give, and fluency is not for the mediocre attitude. When you start expecting the best from yourself and others, some really awesome stuff starts to happen.

Baby Steps to Fluency9. Relax, Have Fun, and Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself: Try to make it as fun and interesting as possible. Imagine your English as a baby learning to walk. You need to give the baby a lot of space, cushioning, support and patience so that it can fall as it needs to, enjoy itself, and learn how to do it without being judged.

One of the things that makes children such awesome learners is that they naturally do these things. As Dan Millman illustrates in his book Body Mind Mastery, “If babies held the same tendency toward self-criticism as adults, they might never learn to walk or talk. Can you imagine infants stomping, “Aarggh! Screwed up again!” Fortunately, babies are free of self-criticism. They just keep practicing.”

Your English is your baby and it needs your patience and love to develop.

10. Make English into a Lifestyle: Connect English to what you already do and like to do. This is called English For Life. Even if you have a hard time understanding what they are saying, just having contact with something you LIKE will help you little by little start to make sense of it.

If you like listening to English language music, start trying to understand the lyrics. If you like watching TV shows, make a routine out of watching them. Listen to online radio, music and podcasts, and other native speaking sources when you’re cooking at home. Configure your Facebook, cell phone, e-mail and other programs and devices into English. Use your imagination.

Lifelong English Fluency

11. Understand that Fluency is Not Perfection: People that don’t speak English look at English speakers and think they speak perfectly. The truth is that very very few non-native speakers speak perfectly (and even native speakers make mistakes). Even if they don´t admit it to you or themselves, most fluent speakers make mistakes, have a significant accent from their native tongue, and struggle with their own problems.

The point is that fluency is not about perfection, which for non-native speakers is pretty much impossible.  Fluency is about meaningful communication, and all the rich world of cultural and professional opportunity that comes with it.

12. Constantly Review and Renew Your Process: While patience is surely advantageous to language learning, you can’t be afraid of making changes and renewing your process from time to time. What worked for you at an earlier stage of the process may not be working for you now, and it’s important to keep every step of your path fresh and spontaneous.

This could mean changing resources, trying different learning strategies, or even switching schools or teachers.  My recommendation: Assess your progress every 4 to 6 months. Ask yourself how things are going. This demands a high degree of self-awareness and sometimes courage, but it’s essential. You might ask yourself: Are you enjoying it? Are you learning? Are you still inspired? If not, what’s the problem?

Take charge of your process.

13.  Be Proactive, Create Opportunities & Use Technology To Your  Advantage: In line with English For Life (covered in #10), to really get to a level where lifelong fluency is a real possibility, you need to be extremely proactive. English needs to be a part of your everyday life. You need to constantly be creating opportunities where you can use English.

This may include a lifestyle that promotes travel to English speaking countries, but it should definitely include an intimate understanding and use of certain strategies that give you contact with the language anywhere in the world, such as podcasts, online radio, TV & movies, and local communities that organize in person English speaking gathering, such as Couchsurfing.

Reinvent Your English, Reinvent Your Life

These tips were written for learners of various English levels, so I know some of these might be common sense to you, but I believe that everybody always needs constant reminders. Really, most of these tips can be applied to success in any area of life.

English fluency is not the universal and perfect application of all of these tips, but people that learned the path to fluency know what they want, they organize their lives to fulfill these dreams, and they are proactive. They know that to realize a dream, they have to start putting their dream in terms of a plan and a deadline, find the necessary people to accompany and help them on the path, and to learn to enjoy the process as a part of their daily existence.

They are the same ingredients for success in anything. You just have to decide you want it bad enough, start walking, fall on your face and keep getting up with a smile on your face. Good luck! You can count on RealLife English to help you on your path to fluency.

We’d love to hear about your experience and language learning wisdom, any problems  or advice you want to share, and any feedback you have. If you liked this article, we would really appreciate you clicking “like,” as it helps the RLE project a lot.

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive our free monthly Real Life English newsletter, with exclusive language learning tips, updates as to events, and access to our vast database of articles. And finally, we would really appreciate it if you spread the word about the project and tell your friends about it. Thanks a lot.

  • Tarik Ammour says:

    Hey buddy… I’m a fellow English teacher, currently working in Sao Paulo. I was wondering if you have any tips/suggestions on material. I really like your site, and see you have quite a fanbase on Facebook and other sites.

    Currently, I have about 14 students in Sao Paulo, and I really try to diversify and mix up my classes very often. Usually, I have one class a week with each student. I try to explain to the student that four hours a month is not enough to become fluent in the language, but is good to practice, establish a foundation and learn a few new words/phrases, while also being more comfortable as a speaker.

    This is usually my monthly breakdown….
    -One class with a news article/current event with a short YouTube video that we watch/discuss as well.

    -One class with a focus on music. I like to leave fill in the blanks to study music with a student and review any vocabulary they’re unfamiliar with.

    -One class with a role playing exercise, such as negotiations or a startup business presentation. I need to think about more of these scenarios. The students really enjoy them, and they keep the students involved in the material.

    -For the last class I try to incorporate either another article/video along with a brief review of some common terms, a few movie clips or other videos, and occasionally, some grammar.

    I try to emphasize learning three new words/expressions a week, 12/month. I think that’s pretty good, and I try to ensure the student is comfortable with these three terms instead of learning a list of 20 new words/terms every month. My biggest challenge is incorporating grammar. Most students say they want grammar, but I really don’t have a great source to take grammar lessons from. Do you have any recommendations based on your teaching experience? I’m curious to hear what you think about my lessons. Any feedback is greatly appreciated. Abraços!

    • Justin says:

      Hey Tarik, Sorry for my delayed response. Thanks for your kind words about our project.

      It sounds like you’re a great teacher. I know what you mean about the grammar problem. Sometimes we focus too much on the real life side of things and not the grammar. I think you should just check out Raymond Murphy’s books (essential grammar in use). They give good exercises and a sturdy structure to work in a really well organized format without filling it out with all the extras that a lot of books have.

      I try to dedicate 1/3 of the class to grammar (getting started on the exercises and/or correcting the last one), 1/3 to the application of the grammar in fluency exercises (focused on the grammar topic and scripts that we have in different situations), and 1/3 to the lifestyle stuff.

      Let me know if that works. You should join the RLE community here http://www.facebook.com/groups/reallifeenglish/ and if you’re ever in Belo Horizonte, come to one of our RLE parties! They are THE BEST! Take care and thanks for your interst.

  • navdeepkaur says:

    I want to excel in my fluency and i would like to take enroll in your class. Please suggest me.

    • Justin says:

      Hey Navdeepkaur, Awesome to get your feedback! We are currently in the process of finishing the Real Life English Fluency Course and we’ll be done soon. We’re getting a lot of good feedback so far. You can sign up for our mailing list and get all the latest info about when it gets released. Thanks SO MUCH buddy!

  • rajinder says:

    at the time i speak english i forget wat i speak but i write very fastly

    • Justin says:

      Awesome! keep working hard and learning. Thanks for the comment!

  • I just want to get job easily that's why I learned english ;).

  • Phuong Thao says:

    thanks a lot.
    i really appreciate RLE to help me and all learner around the world learning virtual English.

  • hello, could I share this article to my group on Facebook? I just found this interesting. I'm teaching ESL too. I'm currently working here in Saudi Arabia. Thanks!

  • Great! usefull

  • Muhammad Khan Buzdar says:

    I want to get my fluency better in English….please add me in your Skype..mkbuzdar. and [email protected]

  • Medgomez Med says:

    I like it!

    • Justin says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Youta Nasri says:

    ow nice

  • […] Read More: 13 Tips to Lifelong English Fluency […]

  • Nada says:

    thank you a lot for your worth article, I really like it and appreciate your effort to help us to improve our English.
    I would like to ask you about a problem that I have with English , I can read articles and understand it very well and I read a lot of articles on the internet so I can learn vocabulary, idioms and expressions also my listening is very good, I’m watching a lot of non-translated videos on English and I can understand but I can not speak well in English I always got confused and misuse the expression and my writing is bad too and some times when I have to write some essay in English I can not found enough ideas to write the essay and also I don’t know how to organize it.
    I want to take the TOEFL Test and it’s really important to learn how to speak and write in Academic way , I will really appreciate if you told me what I have to do .

    • Bhatla Sachin says:

      Right dear ..same problem with me

  • Bahar Bahari says:

    Im english student. Thank u for your suggetions. however Im english student but my speaking is not so good. Im looking for an appropraite way but I cannt found a good way to improve it.please guide me. thanx

    • Justin says:

      Hey Bahar, try reading this article-http://reallifeglobal.com/pronunciation-fluency

    • Nevand Ram Devra says:

      You must listen and speak English regularly I hope you’ll improve your english.

  • Faísca Streetdog says:

    I Will try to learn english agaín

  • Rhiza Bellosa Evangelio says:

    i will try to apply them word by word.

  • Obidi Paul says:


  • Nevand Ram Devra says:

    You must listen and speak English regularly I hope you’ll improve your english.

  • Bhatla Sachin says:

    Hi prsad you are facing same problem like me..can we share our whtsapp number if you dont have any problem…+918950211800

  • Bhatla Sachin says:

    Hi prsad you are facing same problem like me..can we share our whtsapp number if you dont have any problem…+918950211800

  • Bhatla Sachin says:

    Right dear ..same problem with me

  • It is fluency English.

  • Claudia Lang says:

    As an english teacher and tutor I loved these tips!

  • Claudia Lang says:

    As an english teacher and tutor I loved these tips!

  • Joyce Chang says:

    many thanks

  • Joyce Chang says:

    many thanks

  • Jacq says:

    Very informative and i like all the tips you listed above!