5 Reasons Why You Are NOT a Fluent English Speaker: Confessions of an English Teacher

confessionsI have been an English teacher for around 7 years now and I have to say that I really love teaching.

As a teacher, the objective of my job is quite simple: to teach people English. I do this through a mixture of hundreds of different methodologies and techniques and through all of these I try to find the quickest, most effective and most enjoyable way to teach each individual student, and for him or her to learn.

I have taught group classes, individual classes, business English, test preparation, you name it and I have probably had some experience teaching it.

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But, throughout these years of teaching so many different kinds of people, investing all my time and energy into tailoring our classes to their personal needs, I have noticed common trends among more than 80 percent of these people that are STOPPING them from actually becoming fluent in English.

Are you one of these people? Or are you another frustrated teacher that can’t understand why your students aren’t really learning the way that they should?

Today I am going to go through 5 reasons why you are not really learning English at all.

1. You Don’t Want It Enough

Most people don’t REALLY WANT to learn English, they only KIND OF WANT to learn. Really think about it for a second, on a scale of 1 to 10 (ten being the most excited about learning) how much do you really want to learn English?

Many people come to me asking for English classes saying that they really, really, really want to learn and that they would do anything for me to start teaching them.

Sure, for the first week, sometimes even the first month, they attend every class, do the activities I ask them to do in their spare time, and sometimes they even come to the RealLife English party which we host every month to give English learners a social atmosphere where they can practice their English.

But soon enough that excitement to learn, all of their desire to master the language just suddenly disappears and they decide that the money they invest on English classes would be better off spent on candy crush credits and other useless stuff like that.

English or any other language cannot be learned in just one class; it actually takes some time and focus. If you feel like learning a language isn’t something that you want to invest at least 3 or 4 hours a week on, then maybe you should stick to the candy crush.

2. It’s a Resentful Work Obligation

Ok, so maybe I was a little harsh on the first point, I understand that for some people learning English is more of a work necessity than a cool hobby.

If you are being obliged to learn English because it is necessary for your job, then I wish you the best of luck. I know that the corporate world is very cutthroat [relentless] and if you don’t speak English as well as the other person in the interview then you’re probably not going to get the job.

These types of students are generally pretty honest with me, sometimes they even tell me how much they hate learning English and resent the fact that they have to spend their money on English class when they would rather be drinking beer and playing Candy Crush.

Seeing language acquisition as nothing more than a work obligation is not going to make you enjoy the process and you are not going to be motivated to learn. You must find a way to see the benefits English can have in other aspects of your life and use that as a focus point of your classes.

You spend all day at work talking about business, why don’t you make your English classes something totally different, something fun and entertaining.  I’m sure your teacher would definitely be happy to help you find a way to connect your English learning to something more pleasurable to talk about.

3. You Haven’t Made a Habit Out Of It

If you want to be good at something, you have to do it on a regular basis. Think of something you are good at, how did you become so good?

Unless you have a natural gift, you probably spent a lot of time practicing or dedicating at least 10 to 20 minutes a day to that skill. This is also a necessity when learning a language and without making a habit out of practicing, you are not going to achieve English proficiency.

A common exercise I give my students to practice in their spare time is the tour of the tenses. The objective of this is to go through the table of verb conjugations with 3 verbs a day and then present me with all the verbs they did in out next class.

This is a simple exercise and it would probably take you 5 to 10 minutes a day, if you made a habit out of it. A lot of people get lazy and decide to do all of the verbs an hour before our class and get very frustrated with it and want to give up.

What they fail to understand is that the purpose of this exercise isn’t just to practice the verb conjugations, but to start developing good habits. Leaving everything to the last minute and getting stressed is not a healthy way to learn anything, you need to pace yourself and develop convenient and stress-free habits to be able to maximize your learning ability.

Ten to twenty minutes here and there is much better for you learning than 2 hours rushed before your class.

3. You Have No Accountability

What’s that you say? You’re really busy and didn’t have any time to practice? That’s strange because your Facebook status on the weekend said “bored as hell on a Saturday with nothing to do.”

Most people don’t hold themselves accountable for their own learning. When I ask my students if they got a chance to listen to any podcasts, read an English article, or practice in any way, the typical answer is – I was too busy, and I didn’t have any time.

Maybe that’s true but I really doubt it. If you really want to learn something you are going to find time. There is no use lying to your English teacher because you are just lying to yourself. He or she doesn’t really care if you studied or not, they are not the ones that need to learn English, you are.

To help my students from lying to themselves I get them to say “I didn’t make it a priority,” instead of saying,  “I didn’t have time.” This helps the student to realize that the reason that they didn’t practice anything was because of their own problems, not because of exterior reasons.

4. You Think Your Teacher Is Some Sort of a Magician

Imagine if you could go to a magic man or a witch doctor of some kind and ask them to make a special potion that when you drink it you can suddenly speak English.

Unfortunately some people think that when you have class with a private teacher that is what happens.

Sorry but I don’t have any magic tricks or special potions. You have to realize that a private teacher is more of a tour guide. We are teaching you the way to learn English and showing the right paths to take. Holding your hand along the process and answering your questions.

If you think that 1 or 2 classes a week is enough to learn everything about English I’m sorry but you are wrong. You need to do use some initiative and be more of an independent learner.

5. You Think You Are Stupid

And lastly, I have to tell you that learning to speak English is not rocket science. Don’t over complicate things.

A lot of learners have the idea that they’re not the type of person who can learn languages, and with that kind of thinking of course you never will. To learn English you have to give yourself time, you can’t get too frustrated, and you can’t be afraid of making mistakes.

If some of your colleagues are learning faster than you that doesn’t mean that they are smarter than you. You shouldn’t feel like a dumb ass. Everyone has their own type of intelligence and their own way of learning.

So, do you really want to learn English?

Can you relate to anything I have just talked about in this article? If yes, are you ready to start changing the way you think about English learning?

Now that you know the about these common tendencies of English learners who will never be real English speakers, it’s up to you to motivated yourself and get creative with your studies.

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  • thanks a lot .it was so useful

  • termizi says:

    hi! first of all , i would like to thank you, and i totally agreed about your reason above..

  • Dave Kinskey says:

    Wow! That was a brutally honest essay. I never would have said it quite so straight-forwardly, but you made many solid points. Years ago, in the city of Fargo, North Dakota, there used to be an insurance agent who was also a bail bondsman, and his slogan (his "catch phrase") that he printed in slang English on his business cards was: "Ya gotta wanna" (You need to want to do it.) It's hard to argue with that! 😉

  • Edgar Josue says:

    well done man . thanks.

  • Andre E Karine says:

    Yes, you are right. Very good post and thanks a lot!!

  • João Leite says:

    Well done!

  • Aline says:

    I strongly agree with you. There’s no excuse to master your English. People just need to keep in mind that the effort and dedication are part of learning English and responsibility of become fluent belongs themselves. There is anyone you can blame, besides yourself. Peoplo should stop complain and take articles like this seriously.
    Great article.

  • […] taught very effectively. And honestly, no matter how good your English lessons are, a teacher alone can’t make you learn English. Eventually, if you really want to improve your English, you’re going to have to take some (or […]

  • Brian Connelly says:

    Nitpick: You've got six reasons. 🙂

  • Suman Das says:

    A big thank to you for your patient & ability to express our hindrance which quells to learn speaking English. And also change our motivation into our habit. i think it will be not exaggerate stressed if i hail you as diamond for some people Thankxxxx!

  • M. says:

    Thank you for your advices. I am one of those people who are highly educated, smart , hard worker, and I have done all the English courses available in the world! And was always able to reach the highest level in all those English classes. Unfortunately, unlike everybody else I know, I am still struggling with my English fluency for more then 10 years. I finally reached the conclusion that I am even soooo stupid or have some kind of learning difficulties.

    • Agnieszka from RealLife English says:

      Hello Marwa! It’s sad to hear! Maybe you just need to like the language? How do you think? I know that our Fluency Circle members, change completely their approach when they make friends with other learners. Then everything seems to be easier!

    • Jussara says:

      Hey, M. I don’t think you are stupid or have some kind of difficilties as you mentioned. Learning a language implies hard work and we always have something new to learn. We’ll never stop learning.

  • Jussara says:

    It is good to have the chance to reflect about what we really want and what we need to do in order to get our goals.

    • Agnieszka from RealLife English says:

      You got this, Jussara!