How to talk like a native English speaker

First of all, you need practicing. Not just for one week, one month or one year. You have to internalise learning process in your life. Cultural adaptation is an important aspect of language acquisition.

I can divide your question into two part.

  1. Gaining fluency
  2. Accent like a native speaker

For gaining fluency, there is one thing to do. Practice!

Gaining native accent is a little bit difficult than the fluency. You should imitate natives. You should be careful about the stress of the words and sentences.

In order to gain native accent I can suggest several activities:

1) Prosody :

Listen to native speakers carefully. Learn rise and falls of sentences. It will improve your accent

2) Vowels

Learn where in your mouth English vowels are pronounced. It will make a huge difference in how the native listener understands you.

3) Consonants

Pay special attention to consonants.

4) TV Shows

Pay attention to TV shows. Listen to how others pronounce words on TV.

5) Phonetic Alphabet

Learn phonetic alphabet and get an English dictionary with IPA symbols

6) Converse with native speakers

Regular practice is the most important thing for improving the acquisition of perfect accent

7) Choose the accent

Pick the accent you want yours to sound like, and immerse yourself in a world of resources that are spoken in that accent

8) Read out to yourself

Put your phonetic alphabet and English dictionary near to you and read a book loudly.

9) Sing some cool pop tunes

10) Listen formal British accent can be heard on BBC news.

11) Imitate a native speaker

There isn’t one solution for all of those suggestions. Yet, English Ninjas would cover most of them. Practising with a native tutor would be a perfect solution for both gaining fluency and native accent.

English Ninjas is a web and mobile platform allowing you to practice English with native English-speaking tutors. With a single click, you can start improving your speaking skills!

Create English Ninjas Account: English Ninjas

Don’t forget to use the promo code "quora25" in order to get % 25 off for all packages.

Here is a short video introducing English Ninjas :

Examples session videos from our students:

Example grammer videos from our our tutor Margaret

Example idiom practice between tutor and student:

Example pronunciation practice between tutor and student:

19 Replies to “How to talk like a native English speaker”

  1. Get some coffee and sit down — it's a long answer, but worth your while.

    It’s funny because I get asked this a lot — usually by my colleagues’ kids and sometimes by friends of mine.

    Over the years, it’s hard for me to miss the fascination that many people — and Asians in particular — want to achieve native-sounding accents and/or fluency in English. Paradoxically, the fascination to achieve the same is much, much lower for the other European languages. Be that as it may.

    The answer, short and sweet, is time and practice.

    The real answer that most don't want to hear is this:—

    • A second-language learner of any language will never attain true native fluency.

    The longer answer is this:—

    Put simply, “native” (language-wise, that is) means to grow up (and have grown up) speaking the language in natural, native-speaking surroundings. That is, with and among others who have grown up exactly under the same language conditions.

    Unless that happens (or happened), a learnt fluency will always be slightly off — even by the slightest margin — when compared with the genuine article.

    Of course, every person’s mileage may vary. But some of us (still) believe in the fantasy that a non-native could achieve native fluency just by instruction alone (and, to boot, after the early formative years).

    Anyone who believes that will need to reassess his understanding of the meaning of the word ‘native.’

    Annoyingly, almost as if according to the laws of physics, such a vision is frequently met by an equal and opposite ‘revision’ on hearing this response. Some assert that there are indeed people who’ve become extremely (and natively) fluent in a learnt language. And they want to know how.

    I don’t doubt the claims, having seen the same myself as they did. Like I said, everyone’s mileage may vary.

    Common sense:— How could we be “native” unless we were born or grew up there? — That’s what native means. It’s no mistake that native is the operative word rather than something like “formatively acquired” or some other label. These people might as well be trying to achieve what the wags call “naive fluency.”

    The idea of achieving ‘nativeness’ is very appealing — that anyone with the right level of determination could achieve it merely by a process of instructional learning. But the truth is, it’s also the hook and bait used by many language schools to draw in fee-paying customers/students. It works only for a tiny fraction of people but not really for the most of us. That truth is as good as it gets.

    The best workable answer I have so far is one I got myself in my schooldays (even though I'm a native English speaker). In short, the protips are:—

    • Listen and speak first, read and write second. If you can listen and speak well, you can generally read and write well.
    • Listen and read the language as much as possible.
    • Even better — listen and read as widely and differently as possible.
    • Incorporate the language into daily life as much as you could manage.
    • Use the language (read: not show off that you know the language).
    • Realise that grammatical rules are factually only guidelines — for the simple factual reason that all languages are continually developing and evolving.
    • Realse that grammatical rules are merely dubbed ‘rules’ by grammarians who — in concert with academic publishers — have a vested interest in selling their books over and above your own vested interest to learn the language.
    • Realise (and accept) that there are loads of exceptions to textbook rules in ANY language, including your own mother tongue.

    The sad and honest truth is, everybody knows what to do already. Man up! Just do it. Do it now!

    (Source: From my own blog, ca. 2011, ref. B11146)

  2. Coming all the way to Quora to ask this question tells me that you are motivated. Congratulations, that's the very first step in learning a new language! The next step?

    What is your favorite genre of movies/music?

    Begin by asking yourself this question. Why? Because to have better speech skills you need to be exposed to as much native speech as possible!

    Why movies and music? Some might say practicing with native speakers works better, but, unless your level is high enough already, you might find it hard to focus on improving your speech when your brain is already too occupied thinking whether you said it the right way or not! That being said, media (movies, music, audiobooks..etc) is a better alternative as a start because it happens in one direction, you only watch, listen, or both.

    Now, you already have the motivation, but why isn't it working? Well, motivation gets you to start, but it doesn't guarantee to make you continue baceuse it is not constant. It changes over time. One day it is high up that you feel like you can speak like a native in no time; another, you need a break, or you are sick of it and would rather do anything but speak English or get anywhere near it!

    This is where the “favorite genre” comes in handy! When you have interest in what you’re doing, regardless of your level of motivation, you would still enjoy doing it. Forcing yourself to watch a movie you don't like will get you bored in no time. Find something you like, be it a genre, a favorite actor, a singer.. etc and just binge on it!

    Next step? Be patient! Don't focus on each and every word you hear. You’ll end up getting lost and not enjoy it. Let the words flow into your mind at ease. Notice the way of pronunciation, repeat the expressions you like as you watch/listen. Imagine being your favorite Hollywood actor and repeat their words just like they say them. Make up the song lyrics or just sing them as you hear them even if they make no sense to you! You don't have to understand each and every sentence, the goal of this stage is to polish your pronunciation and make it sound as native as possible.

    After that, if you really want to sound like a native, you will need more than just language! Being exposed to the culture is just as important! Movies do show you a good amount of the culture, but they are not always accurate or faithful enough. Movies and songs are a good source of expressions, slang, and idioms that natives use. Back that up with some reading for accuracy. Memorize those expressions if you had to, and try to use other sources available around you. Ask many questions to your teachers, native speakers, or anyone with better English than yours.

    This last sentence leads up to the last step PRACTICE! Yes, it is the last, but that doesn't make it any less important! Start practicing with yourself first. Talk to yourself until you build up enough confidence to practice with others. Use everything you learn, don't leave it dusty and unused because you will end up forgetting it.

    This is one of the longest answers I've written here (sorry), but all the steps above proved to work with me personally and other English learners I have worked with. If I could do it, you sure can do it too! Good luck! 🙂

  3. There are 2 things. How you speak English and what type of English you use.

    • English has a semi-musical rhythm as compared to flat-rhythm of most languages. Not all words are stressed equally. Some words are fully pronounced and other words are shortened and partially pronounced. If you listen to any native speaker in English movies, it should be clear to you. But, no amount of listening will make you speak like native-like. You have to do a lot of rhythm drills.

    • Native speakers use a lot of ready-built word groups (collocations). They don’t talk by stringing individual words but by using ready-to-assemble word clusters which are fixed and standard expressions.

    take a walk, build a house, change the oil, avoid an accident, by mistake, in queue, at the top, take advantage of, pay attention, etc.

    You see, these type of word groups work as single units. You can use these clusters to express your thoughts by not having to worry about putting individual words together and worrying about grammar. They change your focus from how to what you want to say.

    That said, never imitate others’ accents! You’d sound awful. You’d sound unauthentic. Native speakers don’t have an accent. It’s the way they speak. The best the foreign speakers can do is speak English in the way it should be spoken.

    We as foreign speakers assume English is spoken in the same way as our mother tongue. This makes it difficult to carry on conversation in English over longer periods of time even for people who know English quite well. The fact is English is spoken quite differently and none of the Indian/Asian language bears any resemblance. English has its own set of phrases, idioms, and collocations and its very own song-like way of speech. You see, English has a certain rhythm and not all words are pronounced equally. Some words are shortened, some words change form in Spoken English.

    For ex:

    1. It is hell of a game. spoken as: isheləvəgame (notice ‘It’s’ became ‘Is’, ‘Of’ became ‘əv’, ‘a’ became ‘ə’)

    2. The discount price is $10. Spoken as: thədiscoumpricis$10 (notice ‘nt’ became ‘m’) 3. I’m not used to this kind of weather. Spoken as: əmnochoostothiskindəweather (notice ‘I’m’ became ‘əm’, ‘not used’ became ‘nochoosed’, ‘used to’ became ‘use to’, etc.)

    That brings us to:

    Syllables

    Every word in English has one or more syllables. A syllable is a vowel sound in a word. For ex: “Moon” has only 1 syllable “English” has 2 syllables viz. Eng, lish “Syllable” has 3 syllables viz. Sy, lla, ble “Ability” has 4 syllables viz. A, bi, li, ty

    And only one syllable is always stressed and other syllables are unstressed. The syllable which receives stress can be in any position. “Moon” should be always stressed as it’s the only syllable there. “English” has 2 syllables and stress falls only on first syllable and second syllable is unstressed: pronounced like “ENGlish”

    Stressed syllable gets longer time and unstressed syllables are rushed over. For ex, in “Impressive”, the stress falls on second syllable and it’s pronounced as “imPRESSive”. You should spend more time on “PRESS” and stress it and just glide over “im” and “ive” and shouldn’t stress them.

    “Schwa”

    In unstressed syllables, vowels often get reduced to a semi-vowel sound called ‘Schwa’. It’s written as inverted ‘e’ (“ə”). It’s the the sound between ‘s’ and ‘p’ in ‘supply’. the sound between ‘p’ and ’n’ in ‘company’.

    So in connected speech, “am” gets reduced to “əm”, “and” to “ən”, “was” to “wəs”, etc.

    These and other things are clearly explained in Fluentzy: The Fluency Development Course by Prof. Kev Nair in detail. I have done this course and been still studying for almost 10 years.

    Now, Fluentzy course is the most comprehensive and very thorough. It’s one of a kind. Prof. Kev Nair is a well-known authority and is considered “The Father of Fluency Development”. It is a set of 20 books. It doesn’t teach grammar. It is for people who already know English quite well and want to speak fluently. It asserts self-study is the only way to true fluency as there are a number of factors at play in real-time conversations. You can’t plan for them nor can an instructor correct you. You just have to understand the principles of spoken English and practise rigorously.

    This course contains a huge collection of ready-built word groups and it explains in detail about how English should be spoken through a lot of rhythm drills.

    I’ll just give some highlights from this course.
    1. Foreign speakers learn English the wrong way. We are taught to write English rather than to speak first.
    2. There’s a lot of differences between written and spoken English.
    3. The right way to learn to speak is in word-groups instead of individual words.
    4. The way English is spoken is completely different from the way our languages are spoken.
    5. Fluency is achieved only when our ears and tongue are trained in English. We may know English but the tongue has to be taught in English ways. And ears have to stop being hesitant to English sounds.
    6. Fluency is achieved only through self-study, without any instructor, without any recordings. Any external means is a hurdle.
    7. We should get exposed to spoken English a lot. We should read novels written in loose, conversational style. Newspaper, non-fiction books, magazines, and like should be avoided as they’re written for different purpose and aren’t suitable from fluency perspective.
    8. We should avoid bilingual dictionaries and learn to think in English. We should buy at least one Advanced English dictionary and look up words for even simple words. Not any word, but fluency oriented words.

    You can follow Shiva YB (@shiva_yb) on Twitter

  4. Everyone has the potential to speak fluently, but few do.

    To give example from India, as per National Spoken English Skills Report by Aspiring Minds:

    Of the six hundred thousand engineers that graduate annually, only 2.9% candidates have spoken English skills (SES) for high-end jobs in corporate sales/business consulting.

    These also happen to be some of the best jobs. Imagine the advantage you’ll hold over many others if you can speak fluently.

    Now these engineers would be from colleges of all hue, but even if you graduate from the best institutions, you’ll still likely end with average career outcomes in the medium to long term (surprised?). Thomas Harrell from Stanford GSB (it’s consistently rated as one of the top three MBA programs in the world) in his study of Stanford MBAs found that ‘verbal fluency’ was the most common trait among the most accomplished alumni. To know why English language skill is so important and why its importance is going to increase even further in future, you may read this:

    Why Learning English Is Much More Important Than You Think?

    Few steps you can take to get better at speaking English:

    (If someone talks of 30-day solution, run away. They’re slick salesmen selling snake oil. It’ll take you several months or few years of disciplined work to achieve fluency. There are absolutely no shortcuts.)

    1. Listen a lot especially if you’re at a newbie to average level

    Listening will help you learn conversational English, which can be somewhat different from written English. For example, you don’t speak ‘how are you’. That’s too stiff. You speak ‘how’re you’. The difference may look trivial, but it stands out starkly when you speak. Besides fragments and contractions, you’ll also learn pronunciation and intonation and also add new words to your vocabulary. However, you need to focus when listening to grasp aforementioned things.

    On what to listen, avoid entertainment. (That’s my opinion.) Pick content that also teaches you something. Second, keep the level of the audio or video just a notch or two above yours (so that you can understand most of it). If you’ve to look at transcripts all too often, you may lose interest and may not sustain the practice.

    2. Maintain a speaking journal

    Note down new words along with their usage, meaning, and pronunciation. Also note down common phrases people speak (example: can I get your name, please? Or would you mind passing that book to me?) where you aren’t comfortable.

    Go through them once in a while to bring yourself to speed with their usage.

    3. Read out loud

    Make it a daily practice of reading something loud (say, a newspaper) for five minutes. Even better, do it twice at different times in the day. Because our vocabulary is limited, we don’t speak many, many common words in our conversations, which leaves our vocal organs – tongue, throat, and lips – unused to speaking the sounds of many words. Reading out loud words that you don’t otherwise use in conversation also exercises your under-exercised vocal muscles. (Don’t you get muscle aches when you play a new sport even if you’re into other game or exercise routine? This happens because the new sport touches your under-exercised muscles.)

    Moreover, through reading out loud, you’ll catch new words which you might be mispronouncing for ages. This exercise will also reinforce pronunciation you’re learning, as the words will come up in your reading sooner or later.

    4. Think in English

    Many first think in their native language, then translate that thought into English, and then speak. This circuitous process kills fluency.

    It’s not easy to control thinking in native language, but one effective way is to start with thinking (or saying) English words for what you see around. For example, if you’re walking on the roadside, you may start saying road divider, security picket, vines, lush grass, billboard, hulky man on the billboard, tree guards, speeding car, and so on. Focus on speed (saying it as soon as you see), not accuracy. If you slow down to think, your propensity to think in native language will take over. If you can’t think of an appropriate word, move on to the next item you see. You can add verbs (actions you see around) to this exercise. And then you can add complete sentences.

    5. Speak

    Everything else is a waste without this.

    You can’t learn swimming without jumping into water, right. (That’s the reason why many despite exposure to English-speaking environment struggle at speaking. They hang out in their comfort zones where they can talk in their native language.)

    Find 2-3 speaking partners who share the same passion of improving their English. Ask for feedback on mistakes you make. If they’re unavailable on some days or if you want to practice even more, you can try speaking alone. With speaking alone, you’ll reap most benefits you get from speaking to others.

    You can speak alone on almost anything. Topic is less important. More important is speaking practice. You can even mute television and give a running commentary of what you see there.

    Do you need to speak to native speakers?

    I don’t think so. If you’re an average speaker, your level will be well below that of a native speaker, which will frustrate him/ her unless it’s a paid program. Second, a native speaker will likely belong to a different cultural background, which would make it difficult to find common ground for conversations, especially when you want to have more than one conversation.

    Speaking to a native speaker, however, can be useful if you’re trying to learn their accent.

    6. Take your vocabulary to certain level

    Have you faced an awkward situation when you had to pause while speaking because you fumbled for the right word for what you wanted to say? You had a ready word for it in your native language… but not in English. That’s what lack of adequate vocabulary can do to your fluency – apply breaks. Here is an approximate representation of fluency with vocabulary:

    (Click on the image for enlarged view.)

    Try to get to zone C, after which incremental value of vocabulary is less.

    Even if you don’t pause too often in your speech, lack of adequate vocabulary may be making your speech ordinary. This is subtle and you may not even realize this is happening to you because technically you’re not wrong.

    Example 1:

    ‘The bridge was destroyed/ broken by the flooded river.’

    Vs.

    ‘The bridge was washed away by the flooded river.’

    Both will convey the message, but the latter will hold you in good light.

    Example 2:

    ‘He poured the water in the bucket into the drain.’

    ‘He emptied the bucket in the drain.’

    Again, the latter is better.

    Beating around the bush when there is an apt word/ phrase does get noticed at the top levels.

    The best way to improve vocabulary is the old-fashioned noting down words you come across in your reading and listening and then referring to dictionary to learn its meaning and, equally important, usage.

    7. Improve pronunciation

    Mispronunciations, even if few, are the fastest way to get noticed negatively especially when you’re interacting with people with strong communication skills.

    I’ve observed many people (I would say 90+ percent) working in top white-collar jobs in India making pronunciation mistakes. It’s rampant.

    Why is this?

    People in countries where English is non-native learn pronunciation mainly from listening to others. And when others too are making pronunciation mistakes, you can guess what would happen. Because there is little institutional intervention, say from schools, on pronunciation, the vicious cycle continues.

    Most people who improve their pronunciation do so when they listen to words in sounds different from theirs while watching a video/ audio/ TV. BTW, pronunciation is probably the easiest component of spoken English.


    Remember, English isn’t a subject we study in school. Unlike math, science, and geography, it’s a skill that will stay with you for the rest of your life. It’s a skill that will raise your base level at most things in life.

    If you want to learn more on this topic, the tactics, and how to fight mental demons, you can find details here:

    How to Speak Fluent English – A Comprehensive Guide?

  5. Pronunciation is usually the biggest hurdle to sounding like a native speaker in a language. It helps if you have a good ear and can hear the different sounds. It also helps if you study the place and manner of elocution (how the mouth is shaped to produce each particular sound).

    After that, one of the most efficient ways to improve your pronunciation is by recording your voice. There are many techniques you can use, but one of the most useful is to take a native speaker recording and listen to it phrase by phrase, recording your own voice saying the same phrase immediately afterwards. Keep on doing this until you feel that you are mimicking the pronunciation and intonation perfectly.

    Most people don’t like hearing the sound of their recorded voice. “Do I really sound like that?” The bad news is, yes, you do. The good news is that you can change it. Actors listen to their voice to recognize and change things like nasality, to get the voice coming from lower down, instead of from the chest, to pace their speech and pause effectively.

    Things like this can be changed by recording one’s voice more freely. For example, you can watch a video with the volume down and record your description of what’s happening on the screen.

    Recording is like a mirror for your voice. Most people don’t like looking at their face in the mirror first thing in the morning, but they do it anyway, because it is the best way to check for anything that might be wrong – wrinkles, sleep in the eyes, etc.

    In the same way, we generally don’t like listening to our own voice, but if we do it anyway we quickly realize it is one of the most efficient ways to catch our mistakes and eliminate them.

  6. Listen, listen, listen. Really listen to how others are expressing themselves. Listen to their pronunciation. Try to imitate it, and listen to yourself.

    Talk, talk, talk. Make sure you put yourself in situations where you have to use English. Speaking a language is like any other skill, it will only feel comfortable when you get to the point where you don’t have to think about the language but just focus on communication. The only way to do that is constant practice.

    Read, read, read. To have a good communication skills on an educated level, you need to build a good vocabulary and learn different ways of expressing things. Pay attention to new words or turns of phrase as you read. Some might be dated and not very current, but its all part of the language. Spoken and written language are never the same, but the speech of educated people is also heavily affected by written language.

  7. First of all, I think you have to become completely aware of your current accent. You can tape it and than play it, just so you can be aware of issues in your accent. As non native speaker, I improved my accent a lot, but however, it isn’t perfect. And I love that! So, don’t bother if you’ll never sound like an English man or Australian. Your accent is what gives you flavour and what makes you interesting 🙂

    However, it is of an extreme importnace to improve your accent in a way that native spekaers could perfectly understand you and so that you don’t have issues in comunication. Also it gives you big confidence boost.

    1. In my personal experience, I find so called shadowing technicque quite efective and cool! You can try it and see if it suits you. However, it takes quite a patience and regular practice… But you won’t be able to improve your accent unless you practice a lot! Also here’s a link to a podcast which can help you improving your skills
    2. Being surrounded by English language and talking to native speakers is very improtant when improving accent! WHen you speak to someone that speaks “perfect” English, it encourages you and you subconsciously improve it. It’s like when you are trying to sing right next to someone with clear voice and then you try to sing next to someone who is a bad singer… you know the difference, right? Also, by USING your English REGULARY, you are becoming more confident speaker and trust me, with some time, you will justspeak English fluently, which will involve better accent without a lot of thinking. In this case, I strongly recommend you to join some English speakers and learners community. We have this kind of community and English course #UsingEnglishTP which involves few weekly group calls where you can speak with others in English, and even with a natives. Also there are weekly listening lessons 🙂
    3. Podcast and listening in general is quite good. I won’t bother you much with this, but you can benefit a lot from this type of learning ’cause it puts you in an English speaking zone:)

    Hope it helped!

  8. I have completed my study in my native language and never felt a necessity of speaking in English. Later I got a job and moved to a place where I had to speak in English. I had same situation to tackle. There were moments when I was unable to express my thoughts and ended up with embarrassment. Then I took a step to start speaking in English to everyone around me. They trolled me but I took as a challenge and added few more steps in my daily routine.

    I started reading newspaper, novels every night. I started watching English movie with headphones (hear the word again if you don’t understand). I stared observing people and their usage of word in their language. I used to note down the word which was new for me.

    It took me a while to learn but all this work facilitated me a lot and helped me to become a better English speaker. Today, I don’t feel problem or hesitation in communicating with people. I believe environment is very import to learn English where people can speak. So start communicating in English even if you speak wrong, never stop. Correct yourself and try again.

    All the best!

  9. To acquire the accent of a native speaker is a rigorous process. It is possible but even then you might find your accent to be a bit different from a native speaker. If you observe, in most of the movies, the accent of the characters depends on where they come from. An Indian will always have a hint of the innate ‘Indianness’ in his accent.

    Moreover, you should not be trying to imitate the accent of a native speaker as there is no harm to have a slight influence of your regional accent in your speech.

    However, if you are set on acquiring the native speaker’s accent, concentrate on the listening and speaking areas of the language (note: a language has four key areas – speaking, listening, reading and writing). Try to listen to as much audio as you can get hands on. English movies and videos on YouTube are a good way to go. Try practicing everyday by repeating what you hear. You can record your own voice to check and improve by yourself. Listening and speaking practice is necessary, dedicating at least an hour a day. This will slowly help you emulate the accent of a native English speaker.

    On a different note, for improving your vocabulary, do check out the VoLT app. It has a good collection of English words with techniques to remember them such as usage in a sentence, mnemonics, pictorial representation, etc: VoLT – Vocabulary Learning – Android Apps on Google Play

  10. My advice as a non-expert in learning languages.

    Vocabulary: Read a lot of books/articles to enhance your vocabulary. Try to guess meanings of words you don't know using the context, then check their meanings (and pronunciations) in a dictionary. Watch English movies and TV shows and pay attention to vernacular and usage. If necessary, use urban dictionary.

    Speaking: Imitation. Try to copy pronunciations exactly. Exaggerate your facial movements to help better understand where the different sounds come from. Practice those sounds that are difficult for you. It is helpful (almost vital) to have someone rate your pronunciation. If you don't know anyone who is a native English speaker, try to meet someone online, for e.g. in a language learning forum. I recommend the app HelloTalk for this purpose.

    Grammar: most difficult. Even native English speakers screw this up. Best way to learn it is to actually learn it from a textbook or a class or something. Always second guess your grammar and check if your grammar is correct with others or on the internet. Understand that sometimes what is grammatically correct may sound wrong, and what sounds right may be grammatically wrong. Pay attention to rules as well as common usage, and make your own judgments about which way is "better".

    You may naturally gravitate towards an accent (usually Standard American), but know that it is OK to speak with a combination of accents.

  11. My native language is not English.  It is Bengali. But today i am most comfortable in English. Barring the fact that speaking English in my country is viewed as a great achievement and lends bourgeois, which is why it is pestered into our innocent minds as soon as we can start forming small coherent words. I consider myself to be extremely fluent in English and i'll tell you how its done. Read, Read, Read! There are no shortcuts when it comes to mastering a language.  And after reading, speak speak speak. If you are multilingual, like me, you would often find yourself first constructing a sentence in the language you are most comfortable in, in your mind and then translating it into English. STOP THAT AT ONCE! not only do the grammar rules change but even the sentence loses its essence and meaning. Speak in English as much as you can. Its not necessary to develop an accent, that is tertiary. Primary is Tense. When you speak, you have to get your tenses right. Nothing grinds the ear more than incorrect tense or a sentence that started in the past tense and ended in the present. Second, read. Not only would that improve your vocabulary but also teach you sentence construction. Tertiary is the accent and the other accessories you use to spruce up your language.

  12. You can practice it with native speakers at italki or looking for a language partner at conversation exchange or other similar websites.

    You could also try to find native speakers near you through Meetup.

    Whoever you talk to should adapt to your level and introduce new and more challenging expressions progressively so that you can move from lower to higher levels (e.g. A1 to B2).

    Otherwise you will find yourself practicing the same expressions over and over again.

    Apart from talking you could also prepare monologues, tell your tutor or language partner and have him/her note your mistakes. Then you could discuss them together. In this way you would know the areas you should be improving.

    Related answers:

    • What are your favorite language learning techniques?
    • How do people overcome fossilization in second language acquisition?
    • Is immersion the best way to learn any foreign language?
  13. This is what you can do in order to improve your language skills (especially if English is not your native language):

    Actually, broadening/improving one's language skills is a very broad concept, it should be done in more than one ways at the same time which is highly recommended. One can NOT become better ONLY in one area, say, speaking, one MUST improve skills in ALL dimensions of the language!

    Learning language well requires being as active as possible and making the learning as FUN for oneself as possible. Taking lessons is always important, but equally important are these:

    1) Listen/watch: Keep listening to internet radio stations like BBC, watch TV shows in English (use only subtitles, NOT voice dubbing in case you are not a native English speaker!), etc.

    2) Write/communicate: Try to find discussion forums from the web about things that you find interesting and FUN (music/various artists, hobbies, etc.) and start communicating there with other people using only English. Start using instant messaging systems in case you find some new friends or start emailing them. Please do NOT be afraid of making mistakes or hesitating, because even native speakers do make mistakes and do hesitate at times! The more you enjoy communicating, the better!

    3) Buy yourself a proper dictionary, and each time when you see a strange word that you do not understand, look it up. Putting words into their CONTEXT is one of the best ways to broaden one's vocabulary and grammar knowledge, the more you read and write the better. Memorizing is not the best way to go with learning vocabulary, grammar or any other language areas! For idioms, you should buy an all-English dictionary which explains the words in English and shows you examples of how to use the words in their REAL context.

    The main point in ANY language learning is to make it as fun as possible for yourself. Try to find topics that INTEREST you, read online newspapers (Times, Guardian, Independent…), listen to BBC/NBC and other radio stations online, if you find a discussion forum for e.g. your favourite hobby or your idols in music do participate there, etc. The key word here is CONTEXT, which means that it is easier to learn new words and their usage as well as grammar when you use/see them in their real CONTEXT. The more you see and hear the new words in their context and the more you use them in your speech & writing, the easier it becomes to remember their meanings and correct spelling. Do NOT be afraid of making mistakes though, because even native speakers do make mistakes and do hesitate at times!

    I'm sorry there is NO EASY WAY out with this, one really must develop language skills in ALL these language "levels" or dimensions in order to reach better language skills!!

    Last but not least: NEVER EVER use ANY online translators, they are nothing but utter rubbish!! English is practically EVERYWHERE in the online world these days, you just have to use your imagination to find it! Learning pace is always personal, it takes the time it takes so there is no reason to hurry it up too much. If you do, you will not learn so well. Also, please learn the basics of the standard English first before advancing to finer details like dialects/accents. A word of warning though: Do stay well away from overrated, overpriced and overhyped language "gimmicks" such as Rosetta Stone, they really are NOT worth for checking out! Also, never mind about your accent, as the main goal for you is that others understand you and you being able to understand other speakers.

  14. As a person who is not a native of English and who has not lived in any English speaking country, I can tell you that it is not an easy feat to be able to speak like a native. No, you don’t have to live in an English speaking country to speak like a native. Furthermore there is no guarantee that when you live in an English speaking country that you will master the accent correctly.

    So how to speak like a native? I guess if you want to learn it after a certain age it depends on the auditory exposure you have to the language, but it’s definitely related to your personal skills as well. Learning your mother tongue is one thing, mastering a foreign language to the point of making natives think that you are one of them (in more than one language) requires a God given gift. I have fooled many Americans into thinking that I’m a California born American and again fooled many Taiwanese people on the phone – albeit to some extend – that I’m a Taiwanese. But I have to confess that at the age of 14 I was dealing with 5 languages at the same time. It helped me develop my vocal cords to produce sounds in these 5 languages (Turkish, German, English, French and Arabic). I don’t claim to be a native and know that I may have flaws of my own. To hear me speak listen to me teaching in my YouTube videos. (search Oliver Teacher)

    So what’s my conclusion? I suggest excessive listening to a certain accent and trying to reproduce just like a recording would do. Of course it helps to have a pronunciation teacher pointing out your mistakes. I am training several kids that are making great progress in coming close to the Californian accent but they are just not spending enough time listening to audio files in that accent.

    Instagram: @oliverteacher

    Oliver Teacher

  15. First you need to know the rationale behind learning to speak a language.

    In addition to basic prerequisites like vocabulary and pronunciation, to be able to speak a language fluently really requires more critical skills like:

    • The proficiency in using phrases and sentence patterns to express thoughts;
    • The proficiency in uttering sentences in real time (vs writing them where you have time to review and refine the words).

    And secondly, conversational practice is the only effective way to develop these skills.

    However, in non-English countries it is always difficult or expensive to find native English speakers to practice speaking with.

    In that case, an easy, convenient, and effective alternative is the AI-powered app TutorBot which provides a virtual speaking environment where you enjoy man-machine voice interaction practice. Watch the following clip to get the idea:

    So download the free app and start to polish your English. Good luck!

  16. Hey.

    You have a plethora of answers here, all of them pretty standard advice that, if you follow some of it, will help you out in your quest.

    However, (and not having read all the 100+ answers), before even giving you an answer, I’d have a question for you:

    Why do you want to talk like a native English speaker?

    In all my years teaching English, I had only one student who asked me to help him to speak like a native (that’s counting out the girl from the Bronx who simply wanted to sound like she was anywhere but from the Bronx). I asked him if he were a Russian spy or something. His answer was that he found it an interesting challenge to try to overcome his accent (he was French, not Russian).

    I’ve been speaking Spanish fluently for about 30 years and I still have an accent. Few would be able to say it’s an American accent, as I speak carefully and respect the Spanish sound system instead of imposing my native language sound system on Spanish. But I still have an accent.

    And many times, on meeting me for the first time, the Spanish person will comment that despite living here and speaking for so long, I still have the accent. I always reply with “it makes me exotic”. And it does. Not many other Americans living around where I live.

    While you probably would want to get a handle on your native language accent if it is interfering with others’ understanding you or you yourself understanding others, I’d suggest you concentrate your efforts on vocabulary building, or writing skills or something that won’t require hours of concentrated exercise and may not get you to that “native” sound anyway.

    Be exotic! Be proud that you are bilingual. Many native English speakers are not.

  17. Think in English! By thinking in English first, you don’t have to translate in your head, and this strategy can improve fluency. Also, when speaking English in your head, this helps you internalise the language. It means all you need is to speak without paying attention to the rules and pronunciations. Native people speak fluently and correctly by default because they have internalised the language. By thinking without translating, you will also speak English in a less-pressurised and more confident way. You don’t have to worry about whether you are pronouncing correctly or being understood by others. Another benefit of thinking in English is that it saves you time with relearning words and increases your vocabulary words that you will use in everyday conversations.

    You can learn to think in English by:

    1. Start small, then go bigger

    You don’t have to start with ‘complete sentence level of English’. Instead, start smaller. Start at individual word level. For example, when you wake up in the morning, think of words like: bed, water, bathroom, toothbrush, breakfast, clothes, shoes. Just think of the single English words for everything you see, hear and do.

    From there, start thinking in short English sentences, then longer simple sentences. When you become better at English, you have a wider vocabulary and you will be able to use more complex-structure sentences to express your thought and emotion.

    2. Think in English most of the time

    Read and write in English. Listen to English. Communicate in English. Convert everything that uses languages in your life to English, for example, your phone default language, etc. Even when you take notes, do it in English. Just use it in all the occasions you can get. Living in an English-speaking country like Australia and studying English at Scots give you chance to think in English most of the time.

    3. Speak with yourself, in your mind, in English

    Everyday, as a matter of routine, mentally talk to yourself about what you are doing, how you are feeling, describe to yourself whatever happened during the day. For example, when you walking: “There are jacaranda trees that in bloom on my way to school. They are gorgeous, even their name is fabulous. I am taking some photos now.” This helps you handle real-life situations in English later on.

    4. Speak out loud to yourself

    Speaking out loud to yourself in English is a crucial step in learning to think in English. Isn’t that the way we learn our native language?

    Don’t worry about making mistakes. It’s much better to practise English by speaking and making mistakes than not to speaking in English because of the fear of making mistakes. Also, speaking aloud will help you find out where you need to improve and anchor English pronunciation into your long-term memory.

    5. Get creative

    If you get stuck while thinking in English (i.e. don’t know how to say something in English), think of a way around the word. For example, if you’re trying to explain to someone that you lost your wallet, but can’t remember the word “wallet”, then you can tell them instead that “I lost the thing you use to carry cash and credit cards.” The sentence doesn’t use the word “wallet”, but it is clear enough to be understood. This also prevents conversation interruption by your pulling out a dictionary app. Some ways to describe a word you can’t remember are: “It’s something you use to…”, “It’s a place where…”, “It’s the same as/ similar to…”, “It’s the opposite of…”, It’s an action you do when…”.

    6. Build your vocabulary

    There are times you can’t think of a word (or don’t know a word) in English, which leads you to get creative in #5. As soon as you can, note down the word ‘definition’ in English on a little book or a note app on your phone. At the end of the day, look up these words in English and write them down. You should use a monolingual dictionary (i.e. an English-English dictionary). By reading definitions in English and associating words with concepts rather than words in your native language, you will understand and use the words correctly. You can record new words using images. That way, when you are trying to remember the word, your brain will ‘see’ the picture and recall the English word automatically instead of your native word.

    (Source: How to Think in English Like A Native)

  18. I don't think you can. After age 5 or so, the ‘native’ sounds of English get compromised, warped toward the first language. Some, like Chinese simply can't make some of the English sounds. And imagine our Chinese! I can't even hear the pitch levels!

    But you dont have to be fluent native. It’s actually attractive to have accents. Just master some of common demons..where and how we form our r’s, or study the vowels for how far apart they are and how the mouth shapes them. I remember a good test in my French phonetics course: for the so-called nasal vowels

    dans un bon bain. (In a good bath), but make those really distinct from one another— they ARE separate phonemes.

    There’s got to be lots of such test groups in English. And tongue twisters are good practice: how much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

    Sister Susie sells sea shells by the seashore

    You get on top of these kinds of trials, you’ll really increase your flexibility, finesse.

    Then there’s the race horse they named Hoof-Hearted. What a riot. Try commentating fast and loud Hoof-Hearted’s close, but winning race:

    ‘And it’s Hoof-Hearted on the outside, it’s Hoof-Hearted gaining…

    ( :

    ps. No one can do it without laughing. I think it’s a real horse’s real name.

  19. Like some others who have responded, I would encourage you to think about whether you really need to be able to speak like a “native speaker”.

    Is the time, effort and possible financial investment worth it? Will you get “return on your investment”?

    For example, if your want to get a job that explicitly states a required level of English to be “Fluent” or “native-like” for applicants, that might be a reason!

    If your are sure this is necessary, then I wish you every success! You certainly have received lots of good suggestions in the answers provided so far that should help.

    \U0001f600

    P.s. It might be good to change your question a bit too clarify why you need this level.

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