1 THIS EBOOK IS ABSOLUTELY FREE! THE 5 KEYS TO BECOMING FLUENT IN ENGLISH ANYONE CAN BECOME FLUENT: THIS EBOOK WILL SHOW YOU HOW! BY JACK ASKEW
2 INTRODUCTION Thank you for downloading The Five Keys to Becoming Fluent in English. You should find it very useful in your quest for English fluency. One of my goals from this book is to convince you that you can achieve an advanced level/fluency if you do the right things. I hope that my 5 keys will open your eyes to what is achievable if you make the sufficient changes. The first chapter looks at something that most English learners don t spend too much time on: improving pronunciation. The second key discusses why input is so important and why you need to rely on systems to help you with this. The third key is making sure that what you do is relevant and enjoyable. A lot of learners feel that they have to do serious things to learn (not true!). The fourth key is all about overcoming the intermediate barrier and why it s important to change the way you learn. And finally, you will see that anyone can achieve an advanced level and learn what you should do if you feel like giving up. Thanks again for downloading this book. I hope you enjoy it and that it really helps you in a meaningful way. 1
3 KEY TO FLUENCY #1 USE YOUR MOUTH It s time to start doing some training! Exercise your mouth to improve your pronunciation and your English fluency.
4 A big part of speaking English at an advanced or fluent level is making sure that you can make the correct sounds in English. This is such an important area that most learners don t concentrate on. Most of the time, it isn't their fault. The majority of schools and language institutions pay little attention to pronunciation. I've seen this with many English learners: they seem to have a high level, but can't speak freely as they can t produce the English sounds correctly or quickly enough. So, being able to produce the sounds, and then training your mouth muscles so that you can produce them quickly and in different combinations, is something that you should focus your time on. MUSCLE MEMORY Think about the muscles in your mouth just like any other muscles in your body: to be able to use them properly you need to train them. My basketball coach went through three stages when teaching me how to correctly shoot a basketball: 1. He showed me the correct technique. 2. He then gave me feedback on my technique. 3. Finally, he told us to practice, practice, practice. This is what you should be doing with the different English sounds: 3
5 1. Learn how to make the different English sounds and how to put them together. 2. Get feedback on your pronunciation. 3. Practice, practice, practice. There are some great online resources where you can learn the different English sounds. The following site is my favourite: It shows you how to produce the different sounds in English by showing you what happens inside the mouth. Also be sure to practice linking your words together and try to take notice of relaxed pronunciation. For example: "I want do it" -> "Iwannadoit" (this is how it sounds in everyday English). Then, when you are practicing your pronunciation, make sure you get good feedback. If you have a teacher, ask them to evaluate and correct your pronunciation. Another way to do this is to listen to a native speaker and record yourself repeating what you hear. Then, listen back and compare the two. It's amazing what you notice listening to your recorded voice. There are many ways to practice: sing, listen and repeat, do drills etc. But, make it as much fun as possible (this is easy to do with singing). BOTTOM LINE Having poor pronunciation stops you from speaking freely. I have seen many students who can understand everything they read and know what they want to say, but hesitate and make pronunciation errors when speaking. 4
6 Working on your pronunciation will give you the foundation you need to speak at an advanced level. 5
7 KEY TO FLUENCY #2 EAT, SLEEP, AND BREATHE ENGLISH Make English a part of your life and enjoy it!
8 "I don t have time." This is the number one thing I hear English learners say when it comes to learning English. Work, family, sport, computer games, television, Facebook, Youtube, reading, university, and other things get in the way of "studying." But, it doesn't have to be like that. You see, we do have time to study. Maybe not in a traditional sense (grammar, exercises, course books), but this type of learning is both outdated and mostly boring. Instead, all you have to do is to make one small change. MAKE ONE CHANGE The change you need to make is substituting your native language for English. You can continue doing what you like doing in your spare time. In fact, when it comes to making progress over the long-term, I recommend this is what you do. Do whatever you do now, but do it in English. There are so many great programs, websites, videos, computer games, movies, TV shows, articles, blogs etc. in English. There is a whole world waiting to be explored. A new culture to dive into. New things to be watched, read, and listened to. Think about how you spend your time and how easy it will be to do things in English. Think about how much time you spend reading, watching, and listening to things in your native language. This is how much time you can spend getting used to the English language. Notice how I said, Getting used to. In my opinion, you don t learn a language. You just become familiar with it. 7
9 SYSTEMS To ensure that you continue this over the long-term, we need to set up systems Just like you set your alarm clock each morning to make sure you wake up, I recommend that you do certain things to ensure you do everything in English. Having a system makes doing everything in English effortless. Here are a few ways to do this: Subscribe to blogs, Facebook pages, podcasts, and Youtube channels that you enjoy and are in English. Each morning you will receive s in English about new articles etc. Change the language of your devices into English. Change your browser search engine to Google.com and search for things in English. Get hooked on (addicted to) English/American/Australian television. Only watch the English speaking television channels at home. Get an English speaking boyfriend/girlfriend (optional!). Having these systems in place means that you are automatically doing things in English. You don t need to find time to study when you do this. And, if you do the things you love (but in English), then it won t feel like studying at all. In fact, you ll look forward to doing whatever it is you re doing. 8
10 INPUT Hours and hours of input is needed to be able to understand and speak well. Reaching an advanced level means consuming a massive amount of input. This can only be done if you make English a part of your life. Moving to an English speaking country makes this easier, but it is not a deciding factor. Many people become fluent without moving country, and many people move to England or America without making any real progress with their English. It is what you do and how much input you get that determines your ability to progress and reach an advanced level. Sometimes the most important things are the most obvious. But, with the massive changes over the past fifteen years, anyone from anywhere in the world can access native English materials effortlessly and without having to spend a lot of money. This is such an incredibly opportunity. You just have to take advantage of it. 9
11 KEY TO FLUENCY #3 SMILE Are you having fun? If not, you should be!
12 IT S TIME TO SMILE There are many reasons to smile, especially if you're enjoying your learning and making progress. But, I too often see learners who are really dedicated for a month or two: they get out all the books they have bought, buy some more, and spend 2-3 hours a day doing grammar and exercises. They then read things they think they should read, watch things they think they have to watch, and listen to things they think they ought to listen to.* But, this motivation soon wears out. It takes a lot of energy to keep this going, and as soon as you miss a day (because of a wedding, working late, tiredness), it is very difficult to start this routine again. IT IS IMPORTANT TO HAVE FUN Everyone loves having fun. Things are much easier to do when they're fun. We don't use as much energy when we're having fun. And, as my friend Jason R Levine says, "You'll learn without looking when you stop feeling stressed; Having fun when you learn is when you learn the best." Doing fun things in English will mean that you will continue to do them. It will mean that you will look forward to getting home and watching the next episode of of the series you are watching. Or getting excited about the new podcast about your favourite sport. Just because you're serious about your goals doesn't mean that you have to do serious things. I often hear things like: 11
13 No pain, no gain. You have to be dedicated. It's all about how you focus. I used to believe this, and this may be true in other areas (and might work for some of you). But, language learning is different. It s something you need to get used to and something that you need to constantly feed and entertain. Getting too serious about what you do and feeling that you need to work hard at it will leave you disappointed and tired, especially once you reach an intermediate level. Many learners give up once they reach an intermediate level because they have to move on from the basics and constantly develop and improve. Sometimes this can leave you feeling incredibly frustrated as it's much more difficult to see the progress you're making. I'm sure that there are some people who can get through this by being serious about their studies and doing hard work. But, the majority of us can't sustain this. So, surround yourself in English and do the things you love. And, when you study in a traditional sense (working on your pronunciation, for example), ask yourself, "How can I do this while having fun?" Even the things that you feel are boring might not seem so if you smile and make it more exciting. *Did you notice the three different modal verbs? 12
14 KEY TO FLUENCY #4 BREAKING THE INTERMEDIATE BARRIER Stop doing the things you did at school. They didn t work and you didn t enjoy them!
15 IS THIS YOU? Another thing that I always hear my students say is: The English we learned at school was boring and I didn t learn anything. Depending where you come from, I imagine that you have had a similar experience. In my opinion, having bad lessons at school can do more harm than good. This is because bad habits (especially pronunciation and grammatical errors) are formed, and learners continue using the same methods when they leave school. BREAKING THE INTERMEDIATE BARRIER The lessons that you have taken so far have most likely given you a foundation. You will be able to read this book without too many problems and you will be able to have simple conversations. (note: This is assuming that you have an intermediate level like most learners I meet.) But, to move towards an advance level and fluency, you can t keep doing the same things as you did in school. The following changes need to be made: You need to internalize grammar instead of trying to remember the rules. You need to put more focus on real English (and not the English that is written specifically for English learners). You need to communicate in English (interacting with native speakers. 14
16 These are three of the main changes you need to make. Continuing with the same methods of learning that you went through in school will keep you at an intermediate level. Let s look at these changes in more detail: INTERNALIZE GRAMMAR You will never be able to speak freely (and without translating) if you only learn grammar rules and do exercises. Instead, you want to get to the stage where you use the correct grammar because it feels right. The amazing thing about grammar is that we can internalize it. This means that we can use it correctly without really learning the rules. By getting the input that I talked about in Chapter Two, you ll soon get used to the different rules of grammar. Learning rules can help you in certain circumstances. But, in a lot of cases it can make you feel frustrated. This is because there are many exceptions to the rules, and these rules are often flexible in spoken English. Also, there are many subtle differences that are very difficult to explain. If you have a grammar book, the best thing you can do is to focus on the example sentences. However, there is usually no greater context and this can cause confusion too. By listening to hours of podcasts, reading many books, watching a lot of TV, and communicating with native/fluent speakers, you will internalize grammar so that it just feels right. 15
17 REAL ENGLISH RESOURCES This is linked to Chapter Two, but I wanted to speak a little more about it. As an intermediate speaker, you need to reduce the amount of English course books you buy, and stop learning things out of context. Instead, focus on natural English. If you find natural English too difficult, I recommend that you listen to it again and again (it s amazing what you can learn by repetition), and also find natural English that is easier to understand. This can include media that is created for children or subjects that you are familiar with. Keep trying new things and don t avoid repeating things again and again. The reason why it s important to learn by using native resources is that there is a rich context provided. You not only learn new words and grammar, but you also learn in which situations this language is used. This rich context is what you need to properly learn new words and phrases. COMMUNICATING IN ENGLISH Language is a form of communication, and to improve you need to start using the language in this way. Have conversations with native/advanced speakers as much as you can. Not only does this give you practice, but it also gives you more rich input. In fact, I can t think of a better way of getting input than communicating with others. Having a teacher that corrects you (in a positive way) is important too. You will internalize everything whether it is right or wrong. You want to ensure that 16
18 what you internalize is the correct English, otherwise it will be difficult to overcome these errors in the future. FINAL THOUGHT Make the changes needed to break through out of intermediate level and start your journey to fluency. Enjoy the journey and keep going in the right direction. 17
19 KEY TO FLUENCY #5 BEING PART OF A TEAM Anyone can reach fluency. Find others who have the same dream as you.
20 ANYONE CAN DO IT I ve seen many of my students reach advanced levels of English. I ve seen many other learners do this too. It is possible if you do the right things and have the right mentality. Always remember: Anyone can reach fluency as long as you use the right learning methods and keep going. There are times though when you might feel that things are difficult. When you feel like this, it is important that you get the right type of support. GETTING SUPPORT You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. - Jim Rohn Being around the right people makes a big difference to whether you achieve your goals. If your friends and family constantly discourage you from what you are doing, then it is very difficult to make the progress you want to make. On the other hand, if you are surrounded by people who constantly encourage you and believe what you believe, then you will feel motivated and passionate about what you want to achieve. This is much easier now with online groups and communities. You can constantly be in contact with people who are going to support you. So, join groups and follow people who inspire you. Talk to others who are doing the same things as you. Share ideas and things that have worked for you. Do all of this in English! 19
21 OUR NEW COMMUNITY I am in the process of creating a community that will provide a space where you can interact with fellow learners and teachers in a meaningful way. This will include a way for you to document your journey. Keep an eye on your inbox over the coming weeks for more information on this! CONCLUSION As I have said many times, anyone can reach an advanced level. But, to get there you need to make the changes that I have discussed in this book (and implement other changes too). It s one thing reading this book and learning about what you have to do, and another to actually do it. So, take the time to make those changes and set up the systems so that you are constantly improving your English. And, most importantly, enjoy the journey! Thanks for reading. If you have any questions, then send me an If you would like to share this book, please share the following page: 20