5 Guaranteed Ways to NOT Become Fluent in English

I know that many of you who are reading this would absolutely love to become fluent in English.

But,  you just don’t ever see much progress. Correct?

Why does it feel like it is impossible to become fluent?

If you are looking for confidence in English but you haven’t been able to find it, there’s a good chance you are making some fundamental mistakes.

However, if you make some small changes in how you view English, which will gradually changing your relationship with English, you will start to magically improve (yes, it’s magic!)

How do I know this?

Because I have given over 6,000 hours of classes to hundreds of students and I know what it takes to be successful.


So here are top 5 things that I see people doing all the time that totally sabotage their chances of success.

If you are not seeing much progress it is very possible you are doing at least one of these 5 things below. Stop doing them and you will be able to speak English with confidence.


1) Waiting for the right opportunity, method, time, etc…  how to learn english

Don’t do this I often hear people tell me about their plans to become fluent in the future. They talk about starting classes when the time is right. They believe that a study abroad program in an English speaking country will be their ticket to success.  Or maybe once they clear their schedule, finish their MBA or complete that very time-consuming project at work they’ll start focusing on English.

This waiting for the right opportunity is doing absolutely nothing for you. With all the resources available on the internet there is no reason you should not be practicing English at least a few minutes every day, starting today!

People are often waiting for the right time so they can make sure to use the ‘correct’ methods instead of just doing what they can right now with what they already have in front of them. They are waiting to find the perfect ‘how to’, the right method, teacher, program, whatever before starting a program.


How to vs. Want to

But you know what? The ‘how to’ is always available when you need it. Always! If you are waiting for the right time to start it simply means that you really don’t want to focus on English right now.

As a teacher I have seen time and time again students starting English classes but unable to practice even five minutes a day. What’s the excuse? “I don’t have enough time.”

Well, sorry, unless you live on a different planet than I, you have 24 hours a day and if you cannot find 5 minutes for English it is obviously not because you are too busy. It is because you really don’t want to spend time on English.

And if you don’t want to right now that’s OK. Just don’t pretend it’s because of some external force outside of your control. Wait until you are ready. Find that big WHY, the true reason behind your English goals, and start focusing right now.

Do this – Think about what your life will be like if you do not become confident in English. Who will this affect? What can you bring to your life and the lives of those you love if you reach your English goals? Spend some time thinking about this.

Then, start committing at least 5 minutes a day to thoughtful English practice. Find some short podcasts; watch an English lesson on YouTube; start reading a book… Do something! Do this in your car, at the gym, right before bed or while going for a walk.

Every time you hear a new word, notice a grammar rule being used and train your ear just a little bit more you are improving and moving closer to English confidence. If the devil in your head tells you that you are too tired to practice, tell him to buzz off.


2) Not having faith in small steps

Don’t do this – One misconception is that unless you are sitting down at a desk with an English book and/or a teacher in front of you then you are not really learning seriously. This comes from a culture that teaches us when we’re young that in order to be successful in school we have to have a book, a pen, take tests and all that other not-fun stuff.

You know what? Many of my best students have learned from everything but those traditional school methods.

Maybe I didn’t believe it was really possible to learn without studying formally and having someone tell you exactly what to learn and when to learn it, but after teaching for many years and seeing how possible it actually is I have total confidence that you don’t need to learn in this old, boring way.

You don’t need to be learning from English books, you don’t need to study tons of grammar, and you don’t need to learn English in a systematic, step-by-step way. Have you ever tried speaking in your own language by only using the verb ‘to be’, or tried having a conversation with someone only using the future tense? It’s stupid and does not make sense. Formal methods teach you this way. It constricts the language and isn’t genuine. When it is not genuine it is not real communication.

Do this – Maybe you have never tried learning English by using material you like, and watching series, movies and listening to music in English seems like a waste of time. But it works! If you do these things consistently, and find someone to practice speaking with you will get better.

Make sure you learn from this material deeply though. Repeat everything many times!

Try it. You really have nothing to lose.


3) Using the wrong materials


boring englishDon’t do this – Continuing with #2 above, finding the right materials for you is vital. If you don’t like studying at an English school from a book (you will get bored after the 2nd chapter) throw that book out the window or use it to start your BBQ grill this Saturday.

I do not use books, and have seen how constricting they can be. Why would sitting in a classroom and repeating phrases to your classmate be fun?  It’s not. And if it’s not fun you will quit. This is definitely not how we become confident in English.

Much of the content you can find online for learning English is boring. One minute after I see someone writing on a white board I fall asleep. Zzzzzzz.

You don’t have to learn from specific English lessons, although there are some really good podcasts and websites for English learning that use real English.

Do this – You have to look forward to practicing English. You have to get excited about it. So how do you get excited about English if you currently do not like it? Easy; you have to find things that make you excited, like interesting podcasts, TedTalks if you like to hear smart people talking about smart things, movies, audio books, whatever sparks your interest.

Do you love fashion and spend 6 hours a day on your Instagram looking at pictures of girls wearing clothes? Add American fashionistas to your Instagram so you will see English every day. Smart, right?

Like soccer? Go on Facebook and find groups that are based on your favorite teams and join in the discussion. If you are too embarrassed to do this, change your profile picture to a picture of a cat and they’ll have no idea who you are.

Basically, look for content in English that you would want to read or listen to in your own language and use that to practice with.


4) Being afraid of those big scary mistakes. Boo!

Are you an accountant? A math teacher? Maybe an astronaut?  When learning these subjects you have to remember a lot of facts and numbers. There is a right and wrong answer.  So why wouldn’t you think learning English doesn’t involve the same process?

Don’t do this – Often I see people get frustrated with not finding the answer to their grammar question or not understanding every single possible use of a word. They want to know 100% of a rule because once they do they think they will be able to continue to the next step.

But the problem is that there are so many rules, exceptions to the rules, vocabulary, expressions (and don’t even start on the semantics of the language) that if you tried to learn 100% of everything your mind would explode and you would not be a good English speaker anymore. You’d be dead.

Do this – Speak and write as much as possible, and stop worrying about mistakes.

I consider language to be an art. Everyone has their own personality and this comes though when they speak.  Native speakers, including myself, make mistakes in English all the time. I’ve heard politicians make English mistakes, teachers, entertainers, everyone.

So why on Earth would you need to make sure you use the perfect conditional tense 100% of the time when it’s often mixed up by native speakers?

Don’t let perfection paralyze your progress (try to say that 5 times fast.)

People want to communicate, and language is the tool we use to do this. I’d much rather talk to a non-native speaker who speaks confidently but makes mistakes then someone who stops after every sentence to make sure they’re going to use the right prepositions.

The more you practice the better your English will get. Don’t use that time to study it like you are trying to build a spaceship.



5) Having no supportenglish coaching

I personally believe that input is the first thing you should focus on; a lot of listening, reading and paying attention to the language. For this you only need to know which styles you enjoy, and also appropriate material for your English level.  This should be your focus, your 80%. Fortunately, with the wonderful World Wide Web, there are thousands of great, free resources.

But you do need to practice speaking. This can be the hardest thing for students to find as teachers can be expensive and it’s really hard to find English speakers who will want to practice with you for free.

But nowadays it’s much easier to find people. Facebook groups, online sites for inexpensive teachers, meet ups in your city, these are all good resources for you to practice. But you’ll need a little courage so start small (like on Facebook with the cat profile picture) and eventually you will be brave enough to meet up with other English speakers in your area.

It also helps to learn from people who have already become fluent. Everyone has their own way to learn, but you can get ideas from them and experiment with them yourself to see if you like learning that way. Look for people who seem to speak well and have learned from a style that resembles the way you would like to learn. Then ask them for advice and do what they tell you!

Also, make sure that if you have a teacher he or she is always giving you tips on where to find good learning materials as this should be part of their job. Again, try out different methods until you find the ones you like.



To summarize this big long blog post, start improving your English now! If you are waiting for the perfect opportunity to finally become confident in English you are never going to get there.

If you do not like English, or don’t like the fact that you have to improve there is a good chance you have just never learned how to practice and train in a more fun, valuable and useful way.

Change the way you think about English. Make it a part of your daily life, and use it to become a better person in all areas.

Practice with things that make you feel good, that make you feel like you are becoming a better person or that make you laugh and smile.

Oh, and be patient.  Progress can seem slow, but focus on today and do the best you can right now! Patience leads to persistence, which leads to success!


Did I miss anything? What do you think prevents you from becoming fluent? Let me know in the comments below.