Learning and using a language fluently involves a lot more than just knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. In my experience, to improve fluency, knowledge needs to be supported by practise and confidence. These are the three corners of what I call the 'golden triangle' of language learning. 

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This is perhaps the most familiar of the three, and mainly involves learning grammatic principles, vocabulary and sentence structure. The best way to say something can vary significantly in different situations so another key thing to learn is how to adapt language to context: formal, less formal and informal situations plus written and spoken English.


Practise involves using the parts of the language which you already know plus trying words and expressions that you have learned but haven't used yet. It involves getting used to speaking or writing in different situations plus practising listening to and reading the language. It includes getting better at pronouncing the right sounds in the language that you are learning, and using vocabulary, grammatic forms and sentence structures with fewer mistakes.

Practise also has a lot to do with learning to deal with mis-understandings, partial understandings and mistakes.  Learners soon begin to notice their own mistakes. Sometimes they correct themselves straight away, at other times they notice only after speaking. They also notice that whilst some words are easy to hand, others are more remote, needing more concentration to remember them or the catalyst of a certain situation or association. Gradually with practise these more remote words become stronger in our minds and more easily accessible.

Practise also involves other skills: learning how to get hold of the key information, finding ways of saying or writing something when you don't have the 'perfect' words to hand, knowing which mistakes are acceptable in which situations or when misunderstanding can and can't be risked.


With practise comes improved confidence. For most second language learners confidence includes the ability to 'ride through' mistakes and misunderstandings, feeling more comfortable when these happen, knowing when to either laugh them off or go back and re-formulate a statement or a question.

Confidence is also keeping the presence of mind to learn through these experiences. This improved presence of mind is important as it allows us to be more aware in previously stressful situations, so rather than chastise ourselves for mistakes we listen better and use these moments as good and memorable opportunities for learning.

Practising with confidence is often the best setting for learning and expanding knowledge.  In this way the triangle acts like a circle and each part reinforces the next as the learner's fluency and ability grows.


As a language teacher I can teach, encourage and guide you through this process. With your input I will design a course which provides opportunities to develop all parts of the triangle and in this way will take your learning forward.

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