How to Get Fluent Without Living in an English-Speaking Country
Have you ever considered packing your bags and moving to an English-speaking country to become fluent?
Or do you currently live in an English-speaking country and think you must be around natives to become a fluent English speaker?
If so, you’re not the only one!
But, while immersion sounds like a great idea, living in an English-speaking country doesn’t guarantee fluency. This is why millions of English learners live in countries like the US for years and still don’t feel comfortable in English conversations.
Research also shows that passive language acquisition, like being immersed in a language, is beneficial for children under the age of 14. Adults, however, require active participation, and a different kind of learning than they typically get in English language classes, to build true fluency.
Fortunately, you can get fluent anywhere, by yourself, and FAST, if you learn the right way.
If you KNOW a lot of English, but struggle to SPEAK...Learn More about Fluent for Life
Can You Become Fluent in a Language Without Living in the Country?
Immersion can be a great tool in language learning, but it’s definitely not an essential factor for speaking English confidently.
In fact, many non-native English learners don’t get much “immersion” at all in English-speaking countries. For example, even in an immersive environment, many learners may spend most of their time with others who speak their native language. Of course, this feels more comfortable because it’s what they’re used to. But this can shield you from embracing the new culture, learning the real language, and becoming a confident speaker.
But the biggest reason why many non-native English learners don’t get fluent even while living in places like the US, Canada and the UK, is because they don’t learn like natives.
Debunking the Native Speaker Myth
Many language learners believe they can only achieve fluency when they practice English speaking exactly like a native speaker. And they often assume that they can only learn a language by interacting solely with native speakers. But this just isn’t true! It’s not the native speakers that will make you fluent – it’s the native learning method.
Basically, how you learn is how you speak. So even if you’re around natives a lot, you won’t get fluent if you don’t learn like natives do. This means you must learn English as a FIRST language, rather than studying lessons through your native language.
When you learn English as a first language, you learn the real spoken language of native conversations, like slang, phrasal verbs, and idioms. You also learn to understand the language through visual examples and simple stories, rather than by trying to memorize grammar rules and translations. And, you get Naturally Varied Review, which gives you exposure to many different examples of the language, including different speakers with different accents, so you develop your communication skills, memory, speaking confidence, and fluency.
Native speakers have grown up with the language as a first language, and their fluency is the result of years of natural exposure and varied review – the right way. In other words, fluent speakers are MADE by learning the right way. No one is BORN native!
I teach English as a FIRST language in my course Fluent For Life because it’s the same way natives get fluent. So it GUARANTEES fluency for non-natives, too!
Challenges of Learning in an English-Speaking Country
As I’ve mentioned above, many English learners want to live in an English-speaking country to become fluent.
It makes sense – but, again, living with natives doesn’t guarantee fluency! Let’s look at why.
1. Traditional Language Lessons Will Likely Not Help You
No matter the location, traditional language learning methods focus heavily on grammar and vocabulary – not the best way to achieve lifelong fluency. And most English classes are the same traditional lessons all over the world, including in English-speaking countries. So living in an English-speaking country is often an added expense for the same kind of lessons that stop you from expressing yourself!
So, imagine you’re taking one of these typical classes, but then a coworker asks you – in English – about your life outside of work.
Maybe you understand what he’s asked, but you stumble as you try to speak because traditional English lessons trained you to think about grammar rules before you speak. Or, you might be worried about making a mistake in vocabulary or pronunciation. Or perhaps you can’t come up with the right combination of words. So you still struggle to express yourself.
Remember: How you learn is how you speak. So if you live in an English-speaking country and don’t learn English as a FIRST language in your English classes, you’re not learning the real language, or preparing for real communication.
Fortunately, there are many more effective ways to reach fluency than by repetition and memorization, wherever you live. I’ll cover these methods a little further down the page!
2. Difficulty in Finding Suitable Practice Partners
Even if you learn the right way, you probably still want to make friends and have people to speak with. But just being around natives doesn’t mean you’ll find great people to speak with.
Many English learners actually try to find friends and speaking partners the wrong way. They look for English-speaking forums and ask natives if they can practice their English. But most natives aren’t interested in doing this. Also, natives often don’t feel qualified to teach, since they usually can’t answer questions learners have about the language.
Additionally, colleagues, neighbors, or others may not always have the patience or willingness to have conversations at your level – because they’re native speakers. Natives want to express themselves naturally, too!
Now, if you do wish to meet natives, remember to keep your focus on some interest or activity you can share with other people. Talk about something you enjoy with natives, without worrying about asking many language questions, and you’ll learn the language more naturally!
Finally, whether you have someone to speak with or not, the truth is your fluency develops fastest the more you understand the language like a native. And you do this by learning English as a first language. So keep reading to become a better speaker wherever you are, all by yourself!
Learn English Without Moving
To achieve lifelong fluency in English, or any language for that matter, you need to use effective learning methods. And while living with native speakers is nice, the real secret to getting fluent is how natives learn.
Natives don’t get fluent because the land is magical, they simply learn English as a FIRST language, which is what I teach in my course Fluent For Life.
The trick is really to expose yourself to native English, but strategically. This means immersing yourself in spoken English, and with the Naturally Varied Review of different accents, tenses, situations, and more. And it helps you process language patterns without speaking before you’re ready to. This method helps you learn faster, understand the language more deeply, and make you more confident about speaking.
In addition to my Fluent For Life course, which gives you everything you need to get fluent, there are other useful methods that can help you learn more words and grammar like a native. Let’s take a look at some of them.
1. Language Apps and Platforms
There is no shortage of language learning apps and platforms – chances are you’re very familiar with them as an English-language learner.
Apps are accessible nearly everywhere around the world! They provide structured lessons and opportunities for daily practice and can be a valuable tool in your path to fluency.
Even I have one – it’s a university-level listening, pronunciation, and accent-reduction training app that feels and plays like a game! It’s called Frederick, and it will help you learn to fix any pronunciation mistake all by yourself – without studying any rules.
Keep in mind that apps shouldn’t be your primary learning method. Using these programs alone will also likely not help you achieve lifelong fluency because they typically lack real-world application, like common English phrases, and cultural exposure. So take care what English you learn, because how you learn is how you speak!
2. Online Courses and Resources
Similar to the language apps and platforms I mentioned above, many online courses and resources can supplement your learning. Look for courses that focus on practical language skills, like conversation and listening comprehension – NOT rote repetition.
Another key consideration is to be mindful of the instruction you are receiving. Experienced language instructors understand the nuances of effective language learning, and their guidance can help you speed up fluency.
What Is the Fastest Way to Achieve English Fluency?
Living in an English-speaking country can be a great experience for English language learners, but it’s not the only path to fluency. It’s not even the best path to fluency since it doesn’t guarantee fluency. But you absolutely DO need to learn how natives learn, and the right methods can get you there.
Fluency doesn’t have to take a lifetime, and you can actually make more progress in weeks than most learners make in years, once you learn English as a first language. So to learn more about this fast – and guaranteed – path to fluency, check out Fluent For Life.