How to Improve Your Fluency in English!

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
  2. High Frequency Words
  3. Tenses


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 / an3.25%

Source: Basic English and Its Uses (1943) by I. A. Richards


The following 100 words make up 50% of all conversation:


1. a, an

2. after

3. again

4. all

5. almost

6. also

7. always

8. and

9. because

10. before

11. big

12. but

13. (I) can

14. (I) come

15. either/or

16. (I) find

17. first

18. for

19. friend

20. from

21. (I) go

22. good

23. goodbye

24. happy

25. (I) have

26. he

27. hello

28. here

29. how

30. I

31. (I) am

32. if

33. in

34. (I) know

35. last

36. (I) like

37. little

38. (I) love

39. (I) make

40. many

41. one

42. more

43. most

44. much

45. my

46. new

47. no

48. not

49. now

50. of

51. often

52. on

53. one

54. only

55. or

56. other

57. our

58. out

59. over

60. people

61. place

62. please

63. same

64. (I) see

65. she

66. so

67. some


69. still

70. such

71. (I) tell

72. thank you

73. that

74. the

75. their

76. them

77. then

78. there is

79. they

80. thing

81. (I) think

82. this

83. time

84. to

85. under

86. up

87. us

88. (I) use

89. very

90. we

91. what

92. when

93. where

94. which

95. who

96. why

97. with

98. yes

99. you

100. your


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:

  1. Select a portion of text from a web site, and copy it into Microsoft Word.
  2. Create a copy.
  3. Use the Search and Replace tool to replace words like: the | a | an | to | in etc. with a blank space or ____.
  4. Fill in the blanks using the word you feel should be there.
  5. Check your copy with the original and make a note of any errors.

This simple exercise will greatly increase your confidence in using the ‘little words’ like to, at, in, on.


3. Tenses

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:



clown juggling - practice english for fluencyTo increase your fluency, spend time practicing these 3 main areas:

  1. The definite and indefinite articles – a | an | the
  2. The ‘little words’, prepositions and high frequency words
  3. The tenses

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, until you can use them without hesitation. You will notice a huge improvement in your fluency, and of course, your CONFIDENCE!

This is an excerpt from my FREE online course.
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