Many of the students I have taught are not confident because of a lack of fluency. Their speech is interrupted with long pauses or word fillers like ‘um’ or ‘uh, uh’, or corrections where a person says something and then goes back to correct it, realizing they said the wrong word.
Most times the problem revolves around 3 main areas:
1. Definite – Indefinite Article
When do you use a, an or the? This can be very confusing for a student studying English.
See this page: How To Master Definite | Indefinite Articles in 7 Days!
You can create your own Cloze Exercises by deleting the three words a, an, and the in the text. (See next section)
2. High Frequency Words
The following 9 words make up 33% of spoken English:
|a / an||3.25%|
Source: Basic English and Its Uses (1943) by I. A. Richards
The following 100 words make up 50% of all conversation:
|1. a, an|
13. (I) can
14. (I) come
16. (I) find
|21. (I) go|
25. (I) have
31. (I) am
34. (I) know
36. (I) like
38. (I) love
39. (I) make
64. (I) see
71. (I) tell
72. thank you
78. there is
81. (I) think
88. (I) use
So a quick way to improve fluency is to become confident using the first 9 words and then expand it to the first 100 words. How?
By using Cloze Tests, also called Cloze Deletion Tests. These tests or exercises consist of a portion of text with certain words removed. The participant then has to replace the missing word.
Interestingly, the word cloze comes from closure in Gestalt Theory. A key principle of Gestalt Psychology is that the mind tries to form a whole when faced with something incomplete.
So by doing repeated Cloze Tests or exercises, the student gradually learns to make incomplete sentences whole using the correct preposition or high frequency word.
You can easily create your own Cloze Exercises:
This simple exercise will greatly increase your confidence in using the ‘little words’ like to, at, in, on.
This is perhaps the greatest challenge to fluency, knowing how to use the correct tense when speaking or writing. Although English has a number of different tenses, you just need to master about 6 to speak fluent English.
This web site offers a good tutorial with many exercises so you can practice:
To increase your fluency, spend time practicing these 3 main areas:
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, until you can use them without hesitation. You will notice a huge improvement in your fluency, and of course, your CONFIDENCE!