Have you ever listened to someone speaking English, and you were impressed by their accent and fluency to the extent that you thought this person was a native speaker or native-like?
If your answer is “yes”, there must be some reasons for speaking English fluently.
- What are the secrets of smooth and fluent speaking skills?
- Why do some people sound more natural than others? Or you’d describe them as speaking better English?
If you’re eager to know the answers to the above questions, keep reading to know the secret formula.
In this article, we’ll share helpful and proven tips to help you speak English like a native.
- What are the Differences between Native and Non-Native English Speakers?
- 10 Tips on How To Speak English Like A Native
- 1. Utilize Technology
- 2. Study Common English Expressions
- 3. Learn The Slang
- 4. Use English Idioms
- 5. Learn Using Connected Speech
- 6. Learn To Use Natural-Sounding Fillers
- 7. Familiarize The Different English Accents
- 8. Improve Your Fluency and Pronunciation
- 9. Listen to Conversational English Audio
- 10. Practice Every day
What are the Differences between Native and Non-Native English Speakers?
First of all, you need to differentiate between native speakers and non-native speakers.
Let’s dig deeper now.
Native English speakers are the people who were raised in an English-speaking country such as the U.S, the U.K, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, or Ireland. Some countries use English as an official language, such as South Africa.
Native speakers of English started to speak English in the early years of their childhood because they were naturally immersed in the English language, and most importantly, they listened to it from the first day of their birth. Native language can also be called mother tongue or first language.
On the other hand, non-native English speakers were raised in a place that is NOT an English-speaking country. Non-native English Speakers already have their mother tongues depending on where they live.
Non-native English speakers usually learn English as a second language or a foreign language. Depending on their country’s education system, they started to learn English at schools during elementary school or preschool.
Bilingual speakers, a mother who speaks a language and a father who speaks another. Or parents who are from a specific country and they live in another. The kids naturally hear and listen to and are exposed to more than one language, and they can be considered native speakers of two languages or have two mother tongues.
How does this impact your English language learning?
The first language influences the way non-native speakers pronounce English. Mother tongue influences are clear in pronunciation, vocabulary, and sentence structure, as well as some mistakes non-native learners make.
For insurance, if your mother tongue is Spanish or Arabic, you may pronounce the /r/ sound in English as a rolling /r/ most of the time.
Or, if your mother tongue is French or any other language that doesn’t have /th/ sounds, you may have some difficulties pronouncing words containing /th/.
10 Tips on How To Speak English Like A Native
As mentioned earlier, it’s normal and natural for non-native English speakers to be influenced by their mother tongue. They may accidentally or unintentionally follow their mother tongue pronunciation, intonation, stress pattern, vocabulary choices, or even some grammatical or structural rules when they speak.
The good news is that practice makes perfect. Using the right speaking tips makes you sound more natural and more native-like. It will also reduce your accent or your mother tongue influence and sound more English.
Moving from speaking one language to another or code-switching is tricky sometimes. By practice, you will sound as natural as possible. 70 % native-like then 80% 90% 95% and so on.
1. Utilize Technology
We are in the age of technology, and it revolutionized almost everything, and the way we learn is not an exception. You should make the best use of technology to accelerate your learning and take it to the next level.
There are several apps to help you improve your pronunciation. ESLA is one of them. It starts with an assessment to figure out the sounds that you need to work on. In addition, it gives you precise feedback about your pronunciation level.
There are several Apps to help you pronounce better. Eventually, you will feel the difference. Your pronunciation will be smoother and more natural. Instantly, you will find English native speakers easier to understand.
ELSA enables you to listen to words, sentences, and dialogues then record your voice. After that, the application gives you feedback on how close you’re to the native pronunciation. For instance, you might be 70% close or 80 % or higher.
Another helpful App is IELTSace. Even if you’re not preparing for the IELTS test, you can still use this app to record your voice, highlight what needs improvement. Ultimately, you will be able to trace your progress.
Use Google Assistant on your smartphone to help you start a conversation in English.
Google Assistant is a brilliant tool to give voice orders to your phone. For instance, you can tell Google Assistant to open WhatsApp; you can choose which person you want to send a message to and start dictating.
Google assistant is very smart to give you conversational expressions. It is also an AI-powered app to detect your voice, so it will be practical training for you to speak clearly and enunciate your words. Otherwise, you will not be understood, and Google Assistant will not perform your tasks.
You may spend a lot of time using your smartphone. Be mindful of the time and use these apps to help you learn and improve your English.
2. Study Common English Expressions
Now, you know the difference between native and non-native speakers. You can utilize technology to assess your level, move forward, and keep learning. Great, keep up the good work.
“Keep up the good work” is a common expression that means continue doing great.
Remember that conversational English is less formal, and inserting common English expressions in the way you talk makes your conversation more natural and authentic. Here you will find a list of some useful expressions you can use in your daily conversation.
|“At your fingertips“||==||An informal expression that means accessible or available.|
|“To be hooked on something“||==||An informal expression means to be addicted to something.|
|“Cheer up“||==||A phrasal verb that means to become happier.|
|“Go the extra mile“||==||To do more effort than you should or you’re expected|
|“Hurry up!“||==||It is a phrasal verb that means do something more quickly.|
|“Hold on“||==||to wait, or to manage to stay alive or deal with a challenging situation|
|“Kicker“||==||In North American English, a surprising change or turn of events.|
Now, you’re on the right track, which means you are making progress!
You can learn more conversation through watching movies, TV series, talk shows, or podcasts. Any authentic listening material is helpful!
3. Learn The Slang
“I bought a nice book yesterday, and it cost me ten bucks. “
“Bucks” means a dollar in slang American English.
ٌRemember that conversational English is informal. Be mindful of who you talk to and what you talk about to select the appropriate degree of formality.
Here are some slang words and expressions to use in your day-to-day conversation.
|“My bad!“||==||means my mistake|
|“Are you kidding me?“||==||You say this expression when there is something that is really surprising.|
|“Around-the-clock“||==||all the day without stopping|
|“Go nuts“||==||go crazy|
|“Goofy“||==||crazy or ridiculous.|
|“Get it“||==||means you|
|“Twenty For seven“||==|
all the time
|“Freaks me out“||==||makes you afraid or terrified.|
|“Ditch“||==||give up or get rid of.|
Again, listening to authentic English material helps you to learn and acquire more slang expressions. Be mindful to use the appropriate slang expressions. For instance, vulgar slang sounds impolite or inappropriate.
4. Use English Idioms
Idioms are a very important component of the English Language. Mastering idioms are part of being familiar with English culture.
Are you asking now what “idiom” means?
It is on the tip of my tongue.
Idioms very simply mean a group of words that have different meanings together. For instance, if you say my test was a piece of cake. It means it was a very easy test. It doesn’t literally mean it’s a piece of cake.
Learning idioms helps you NOT sound like a foreigner. It helps you express yourself like a native speaker and use real-world English.
Here are some English idioms you can use in your conversations.
|“Keep your fingers crossed:”||==||to hope strongly that something will happen.|
|“Bite off more than what you can chew:“||==||to try something that is too difficult for you or more than your capabilities.|
|“I know where you’re coming from:”||==||you understand someone’s point of view.|
|“Down to the Wire:“||==||until the deadline or a final moment.|
|“Find your feet:“||==||become confident or successful in a particular field or activity.|
|“The Elephant in the room:“||==||a major problem or controversial issue which is obviously present but is avoided as a subject for discussion.|
|“Get cold feet:“||==||to feel too frightened to do something that you had planned to do: I was going to try bungee jumping, but I got cold feet.|
5. Learn Using Connected Speech
In natural conversations, native speakers connect English sounds together. That’s why many learners think that English learners speak too fast.
If you pronounce each and every single word you pronounce in isolation- without connecting them together – you will sound like a monotonous robot. In other words, when your search lacks a natural connection, it will sound strange and your speech will lack variation in pitch, rhythm, and it will sound less Engish.
Connected speech is of extreme importance to speak properly and to understand English native speakers as well.
There are several subcategories of connected speech. Continue reading to know the secrets of connected speech.
a. Weak form vs. full form
Words in English can be divided into two major categories. Content words and functional words.
- Content words are words that carry the main meanings of the sentence such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
- Functional words are words that have grammatical functions such as conjunctions, pronouns, prepositions, auxiliaries, and articles.
Functional words are unstressed in English. That’s why they’re called weak forms. There are many types of Functional words.
- Conjunctions : and, or, for, but
- Pronouns: he, she, it, you, they, I, him, her, its, your
- Prepositions: in, on, at, of, to, for
- Auxiliaries: is-was- have- has – does – do
- Articles: a-an-the
fish and chips ==== (fish´n chips)
a chair and a table === (a chair ´n a table)
Some functional words are weakened in pronunciation as follows:
|his= hɪz ɪz|
|him= hɪm ɪm|
|her= hɜː hə, ə, ɜː|
|you= juː jʊ, jə|
In English pronunciation, there are some sounds that disappear altogether.
/ h /
The / h / sound is also often deleted. For example:
- you shouldn´t (h)ave
- tell (h)im.
/ t / and / d /
The sounds of / t / and / d / are usually deleted when they occur between consonant clusters. For instance:
The same process can occur across word boundaries, for example:
- mus(t) be
- the firs(t) three
- you an(d) me
- we stopp(ed) for lunch
When /t/ or /d/ occur between two consonant sounds, they will usually disappear.
- I’m going nex(t) week
- That was the wors(t) job I ever had!
- Jus(t) one person came to the party!
- I can'(t) swim
c. Intrusion and Linking
Intrusion means there is an extra sound that appears when you pronounce words.
The extra sounds are a / j /, / w / or / r /
- I want to/ w/eat.
- Please do/ w/it.
In English, the ending of words is usually linked and connected to the initial sounds of the next words. For example, the final consonants are linked or connected to the initial vowels.
So “get on” for instance is NOT pronounced separately as get on. There is no stopping or pausing between “get” and “on” Rather, the /t/ sound is lined and it.
- Get on. ( geton )
- Not at all. ( notatall )
- It’s no joke. ( snow joke)
e) Geminate: Sound Twinning
Geminate means sound twinning or sound merging when the final consonant of a word is the same initial sound of the next word. Both sounds are merged and pronounced as one.
- I want to eat ice cream is pronounced like I wanto eat ice cream.
- I have a lot to do is pronounced like I have a loto do.
- I don’t know what to say is pronounced like I don’t knowo whato say.
- She’s spent 3 hours working is pronounced like She’spent 3 hours working.
A lot of people think that native speakers are too fast. They link sounds together in a way that is not necessarily the same in your mother tongue.
Knowing how sounds are connected or “connected speech” helps you improve your speaking skills tremendously.
In addition, it helps you understand native speakers more effectively.
Additional Reading: How to Practice Connected Speech?
There are some helpful courses, books, and materials out there to help you master pronunciation, such as :
- Coursera Tricky American English Pronunciation Course
- Future Pronunciation in a Global World
- Speak English Professionally: In-Person, Online & On the Phone
You can take the course at your own pace. The courses cover a wide range of pronunciation topics that you’d definitely benefit from.
6. Learn To Use Natural-Sounding Fillers
Speaking is different from writing. You are more spontaneous when you speak. You may need a couple of seconds to think, check your ideas, or even hesitate. Taking turns in natural conversation may require you to take a short while s to think about what to say next.
To speak naturally like a native English speaker, you need to have natural sound fillers such as
Well, um, actually, er, basically, I know, I mean, Do you know what I mean?
ah or uh /ʌ/ and um /ʌm/ when you hesitate, think, or decide, or you need a few seconds to organize your thoughts of what to say next.
Sound fillers like “like,” “you know,” “I mean,” “okay,” “so,” “actually,” “basically,” and “right?” are more common among younger generations.
- It is very important NOT to overuse natural sound fillers.
- It is very important to At the right place at the right time.
7. Familiarize The Different English Accents
British, American, Australian, Scottish, Irish, and New Zealand are the most common English accents.
The variation in accents mainly includes differences in pronunciation, vocabulary choices, slang expression, spelling, and grammar.
The main focus is speaking, so there is more emphasis on pronunciation and vocabulary choices.
The most commonly used accents are the British and the American accents.
There are more similarities than differences when comparing different English accents to each other. The most important thing is to be consistent.
If you’re interested in digging deeper into pronunciation, check Youglish. It is an excellent source to find out how English words are pronounced in different accents.
8. Improve Your Fluency and Pronunciation
There are some distinctive sounds in every language that you may not have in your mother tongue in every language. Or it is there but pronounced differently. In this article, we will feature:
- /th/ sounds.
- /p/ and /b/ sounds.
- “sh” and “ch“.
- ending “ed” sounds.
- “g” sounds.
The reason for selecting these sounds, in particular, is that mispronouncing them is very common and among the most common mistakes English learners make.
At first, you need to distinguish between voiced and voiceless sounds.
- Voiced sounds are the sounds that require you to use your vocal cords. Like when you put your hand in your throat and say Vvvvvvvvvv. You will find vibration in your vocal cords. Notice that All vowels are voiced.
- Voiceless sounds: are the sounds that don’t require you to use your vocal cords. If you put your hands on your vocal cords, you will NOT find any vibration.
Now, let’s apply that to the TH sounds.
|Voiceless “th” sound θ||Thank you. |
|Voiced ‘th“ sound ð||Brother. |
Let’s try that again with P and B
- Focus on the shape of your lips and the movements of vocal cords in your throat.
- When you pronounce the sound /b/ sound.
- When you pronounce the /b/ sounds, your lips are stretched like a big smile while
- /p/ your lips are not stretched. It is like a small smile.
- When you pronounce /p/ sounds, there is a puff coming through your lips.
- While /b/, there is vibration coming from your throat.
Put your hand in your throat and notice the vibration when you say
Now, practice pronouncing the following minimum pairs.
- Pen- Bin
- Pig- Big
Be careful of the place of articulation or the parts of your mouth you use to pronounce; this sounds like the shape of your lips, for instance.
Ch – Sh sounds
Ch sounds like t+sh = Ch
Practice the following minimal pairs
- Chat — shot
- Teacher — Share
- Chair — Shape
- Change — Shame
- Chew — shoe
- Chalk — shock
- Chin — shin
- Chip — Ship
G Sound in management is pronounced as manɪdʒm(ə)nt/ as if there is dj sound in the middle.
Ed past tense
The ending ‘ed’ with regular past tense is pronounced as /id/, /t/ or /d/. It depends mainly on the final sound of the verb.
- If the verb in the base worm ended with t or d, the ending sound is /id/
- If the ending sound is voiceless, the ending sound is /t/.
- If the ending sound is voided, the ed is pronounced as /d/.
9. Listen to Conversational English Audio
Everyday situation. Is different from an academic setting, a lecture, or a debate about a hot topic. The degree of formality, the choice of words, and what can be appropriate to say would differ from one context to another.
That’s why listening to various speakers, a variety of accents, and contexts enriches your learning experience. Remember that those good listeners eventually become good speakers.
To speak English professionally, you need more than proper pronunciation. You need to know which degree of formality you need to adhere to. For instance, a casual conversation between two friends is different from a job interview or a business phone call.
10. Practice Every day
No matter your English language proficiency, there is room for making errors. Even if you’re an advanced learner, you may make some minor language errors. That’s why practicing every day keeps you on track.
- Your daily practice could be using one of the apps we recommended earlier.
- Listening to a podcast or a video.
- Use Google Assistant in your phone.
- Talking to a friend or speaking English in the workplace.
Final Thoughts on How to Speak English Like a Native Speaker
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article. To help you in your journey, here is a recap of what we’ve discussed.
- Start with smaller steps: you will not master all aspects of English pronunciation overnight. Put first things first then you can move forward with something bigger. You can get started with breaking down language into smaller components such as vowels, consonants. Then, you can break consonants into voiced and voiceless consonants and so on. You need to know how to stress the right syllables in the words. Then, you can move to more advanced skills like connected speech.
- Identify your weak areas or weak points: know exactly what you need to speak better English. For instance, you may have some problems in pronouncing the “th” sound or the ending “ed” or -S ending words. Or perhaps you need to work on your intonation. Identify your needs. Then move forward.
- To speak English professionally, you need more than proper pronunciation: You need to know which degree of formality you need to adhere to. For instance, a casual conversation between two friends is different from a job interview or a business phone call. Knowing conversational vocabulary, idioms, and expressions helps you boost your speaking skills.
Learning a foreign language needs patience. It is something like going to the gym to be fit. If you stopped going for a while, you’d feel that you need to restart from the first beginning to be in shape again. The same can be applied to learning English. To keep your mind active and ready to learn, you need to be consistent and take it step-by-step.
- Go Natural English: 5 Connected Speech Secrets for Fast, Native English Pronunciation
- TeachingEnglish: Connected speech
- NSC Idiomas: What is Connected Speech and Why is it Important in Language Learning
- Coursera.org: Linking in Connected Speech
- Coursera.org: Tricky American English Pronunciation
- TeachingEnglish: Connected speech 2
- ELT Resourceful: Helping Students with Connected Speech
- BritishCouncil: Differences between British and American English
- BBC: Pronunciation Tips
- How to Speak English Without an Accent