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  • Today I'm coming here to talk to you about how i became fluent in English.

  • It's a question I get asked a lot of times, and also to share some tips from

  • my personal experience on speaking a foreign language or second language,

  • on how to communicate well and be understood in a foreign language when

  • you're living abroad. If you don't know anything about me, and this is the first

  • video of mine that you're watching,

  • I am originally from Brazil, I was born and raised there and I lived in Brazil

  • for 23 years. Then I moved to the UK and I've been living here for the last

  • nearly six years now.

  • Nowadays, I can say that I sometimes, well most of the time, I feel more confident

  • speaking in English than I do in Portuguese, and I think that's quite an

  • achievement for someone who wasn't brought up in an english-speaking

  • country and learned english as a second language. So I thought this video may be

  • interesting or useful to anyone out there who's learning English now and who

  • is struggling to become fluent or to know what to do to better their English.

  • My english is far from being perfect and I make mistakes all the time, but

  • I consider myself capable enough of holding a conversation, and I do all

  • my YouTube videos in English, which is good practice as well. So I'll just get

  • started with how I started to learn English. When you go to school in Brazil

  • and you get to a certain age,

  • English becomes part of the curriculum and it's one of the mandatory languages

  • to learn, and so I started learning in school. But the curriculum in school is

  • very limited and you really don't learn an awful amount of English in school.

  • So if you want to be able to speak English properly,

  • as a general rule, you have to enroll in a private English school. And that's what

  • most people do in Brazil and most of my friends did and when I was growing up.

  • I was about 13 when I started studying English, or 14. Around about that age, 13 to 14.

  • And I was going twice a week to a private English school.

  • It wasn't something that was forced by my parents. My mum always liked English.

  • She did do private English lessons when she was much younger, so it was something

  • that she was keen for us all to know and to learn from a young age.

  • And we were just generally interested in the English world,

  • in the English-speaking world and the culture. American culture, British culture,

  • which were the two biggest cultures that we were exposed to in Brazil, growing up.

  • We had lessons, and we started with Basic, Beginners and stuff, and carried on

  • progressing to Intermediate, then Advanced and then we got our degrees.

  • What happened to me was that, I very quickly realised I had a passion

  • for languages, and that I actually really enjoyed learning English. And so,

  • very quickly I progressed and developed my English because I was practicing so much

  • and enjoying it so much. I wasn't just learning in the English school,

  • I was going home, and I was watching things in English, and I was listening to music

  • in English and trying to understand the lyrics and translate it. And that kind of

  • helped a lot with my fluency and it helped just to solidify the concepts that

  • I'd learned from the books in my English school, and I'd come home

  • and it wasn't something that I was forced to do, it was something that I wanted to do.

  • So I would watch things in English and try to understand what they were saying.

  • I loved my dictionary, I walked around everywhere with my Portuguese to English Dictionary

  • translating words that I'd come across and that I didn't know.

  • So, then when I was 14 to 15, my sister and I went abroad.

  • We went to Disneyland, and that was our first experience in an English-speaking country.

  • And I just thought it was amazing that I was able to understand certain things.

  • I wasn't fluent at all at that point.

  • I just had a very basic knowledge of English, but I just got so

  • intrigued and interested in all of it. A year later, I made my first trip to London.

  • I came to stay with a friend. I was 15 at the time.

  • Yeah, I think so, 15 going on 16, and I absolutely loved it.

  • I fell in love with the British culture then and I just did not want to do

  • anything else, I just wanted to learn English.

  • I was staying with a group of friends who only spoke English, which kind of

  • forced me to speak English as well and to kind of get out of my comfort zone,

  • which was the best thing for me.

  • So after I came back from abroad I did the placement test to see where my level

  • of English was after having spent that time abroad, because that does boost up

  • your English level quite a lot, and I had jumped quite a lot of levels.

  • So I went from being the start of Intermediate, to going straight to Advanced

  • and I skipped the whole of the Intermediate course because I had

  • already built up so much for vocabulary and learned so much just by being abroad.

  • So that really really helped me.

  • I finished the Advanced level and I didn't stop there. I carried on studying because

  • I didn't want to lose my fluency and if any of you out there are learning

  • English abroad, you know how easy it is to quickly lose your fluency

  • if you've been abroad, if you studied abroad or did an interchange programme.

  • And then suddenly you're back home and no one speaks English on a daily basis.

  • It's really hard to keep up with the language if you're not constantly talking.

  • So I enrolled - my English school at the time offered what they called

  • a conversation course, which was basically, you finish the class, you finish the course.

  • There's no more grammar or anything to learn, you've learned everything that we offer.

  • But now we offer you the chance to keep coming back

  • twice a week with a group of people who are still interested in keeping that

  • English alive and we will just have conversations, basically. There will be

  • topics to be discussed every week, we'll have hand-outs and things,

  • and I'm sure you still be learning. So I did that and that was brilliant.

  • I loved that and I recommend that anyone who has finished their whole English course

  • and is wondering what to do.

  • Go and find a conversation course. You might think that you're putting money

  • down the drain, but you're not, because you're keeping that whole investment

  • that you made in your English course, alive.

  • You're basically saving your fluency in English,

  • because you're practicing twice a week at least and you get to speak English that you wouldn't

  • get to speak otherwise. And you also have a teacher there to answer any questions.

  • That was basically what happened to me.

  • It's not groundbreaking, I didn't do anything different to what anyone does

  • but I think I just already had a predisposition to languages, and the fact

  • that I went abroad really helped build up my confidence in speaking English.

  • So for starters I had a very very strong American accent because my teachers

  • in Brazil, they all had American accents and then when I came to the UK, I fell in love

  • with the British accent and somehow my brain was able to completely change

  • my accent from being American to British. And my husband being British,

  • at the time when we were going out, we were still boyfriend and girlfriend.

  • He is Welsh, and my brain just sucked in his Welsh accent, and now I have

  • kind of like a Welsh accent, mixed in with a Brazilian accent and whatever accents

  • I've have absorbed throughout the years. But mostly Welsh, I think.

  • I pick up accents very quickly, even in Portuguese.

  • It's quite funny, actually. Because if I'm talking to someone - a Brazilian person

  • with a different accent to mine, my accent morphs into their accent.

  • I really have no control over it - it just happens. So that happened in English as well.

  • The more I spent time with British people,

  • the more my accent got better, and I just kept on speaking.

  • Now that that part is over, let's get on to my top tips for speaking English

  • and making yourself understood in a foreign language when you're living abroad.

  • My first tip, and I think this is the most important tip when you're

  • struggling to make yourself understood in a foreign language is: make it easy

  • for people to understand you. Pronounce your words, open your mouth

  • and say the words. Don't mumble, don't speak quietly,

  • because people will find it difficult to understand you, especially with the accent and all.

  • If you're talking about: 'Do you want a cup of tea?' It might seem silly,

  • but that can save a lot frustration when you're trying to

  • communicate and people can't understand what you're saying.

  • Gesticulate with your hands, use your mouth, use your facial expressions.

  • And along the same lines,

  • try to pronounce things from your native language in a way that people can understand.

  • For example, Brazilian football players are very very popular abroad.

  • And that's a topic of conversation whenever people find that I'm from Brazil.

  • And one football player that you may know very well is, Ronaldo.

  • Now, being from Brazil

  • I wouldn't say 'Ronaldo' if I was talking to a Brazilian person.

  • I would say 'Ronaldo', because that's how we say it in Portuguese.

  • But, if I say that to someone who speaks English only, or who only heard his name in the English media

  • being referred to as 'Ronaldo', that's going to cause a little bit of miscommunication.

  • So instead of making that conversation easier, you're making it harder, if you know what I mean,

  • by pronouncing it the way that you would in Portuguese.

  • So if you know how people in English-speaking countries

  • speak certain words from your native language, then make it easier for them. Why not?

  • It doesn't really matter, you're not making a mistake. The important thing is that

  • you know that you know the way it's supposed to be said,

  • but in that particular context, it's much easier for you to make it easier for yourself

  • and for the person that you're speaking to.

  • My second tip is: don't obsess over your mistakes.

  • They really don't matter that much, and if you told me that

  • when I was learning English as a teenager,

  • I wouldn't have followed your advice, but I hope some of you will.

  • As a teenager I worried far too much about my mistakes and about

  • what other people thought of what I was saying wrong, and that prevented me from

  • starting conversations because I didn't want to make mistakes, especially in English.

  • The first time I came to the UK

  • I would not start a conversation, I would wait until someone would start

  • a conversation with me, because I was too worried of saying things the wrong way.

  • But soon enough I realised by talking to people

  • how little they care about your mistakes. If you're trying your best,

  • and you're speaking most of it correctly, or if you're getting the general gist

  • of the conversation correctly,

  • people really don't care that much. Even native speakers of English make mistakes.

  • And that's something that you'll learn. That your grammar will be much better than

  • a lot of native speakers. Obviously there are a lot of people in English-speaking

  • countries that have amazing grammar and things like that, but you'll be surprised

  • how good your Grammar and your knowledge of the English language is, coming from

  • learning English as a foreign language. So don't obsess over your mistakes.

  • If you feel like you've made a mistake, don't stop a conversation to correct yourself.

  • Just carry on speaking and keep the conversation flowing,

  • and that will make you more confident.

  • You know in your mind that you made a mistake,

  • but you'll correct it next time. Don't worry that person is not gonna judge you

  • on that mistake, it's just going to make life a little bit easier if you're trying to

  • communicate in a foreign language.

  • Tip number three is: practice, practice, practice. Whenever you can, wherever you can.

  • If you have a friend abroad that you talk to online,

  • talk to them on skype, talk to them on Facetime, but actually talk to them.

  • Writing is good, but you will only get your fluency by practicing your speaking.

  • And if you've learned English as a second language, you know the very important

  • parts of English, such as writing, reading listening and speaking.

  • And speaking is, by far

  • I think the hardest one for people to achieve fluency in.

  • if you know anyone in town that speaks English as a first language, go and speak to them

  • and just practice as much as you can.

  • But if you can't do that,

  • practice on your own, even in your house. I used to do that all the time in my bedroom.

  • I used to have conversations with myself, and you can call me crazy, but that

  • really really helped me because I kind of practiced the way that I wanted to say

  • certain things and the way that the sounds come out of my mouth. because a

  • lot of sounds we don't have in our native languages if you're speaking a

  • foreign language for example in English we have the th sound which is a the

  • employees we don't have that sounds so that's the sound that you have to learn

  • and I remember sitting in my bedroom with a list of words that start with th

  • and literally seeing them all out loud and practicing that th sound

  • I remember watching friends on the TV with subtitles on in Portuguese and

  • trying to copy what they were saying and the dialogues and you know the

  • intonation and just practicing just literally being interested in the

  • language and practicing as much as I can and that leads me on to tip number 4

  • rehearse monologues and conversations in the privacy of your home before you go

  • and speak to other people and what I mean by that is you know the general

  • topics of conversation that come up when you're talking to the people like

  • talking about

  • where are you from you know where were you born what do you do what do you

  • study

  • and what do you think of this do you like tea what kind of drinks do you do

  • drink what's your favorite food

  • just the general conversation topics rehearse your answers what would you

  • save someone asked you what's your favorite food do you know what's your

  • favorite food in English go and look that out and rehearse it beforehand and

  • if someone asked what's your job going and rehearse how to say that in English

  • also rehearse a few questions as well so that you can ask them a few questions

  • and where do they live and what are their hobbies what they like doing how

  • old are they

  • and things like that and that is so so useful to have because then whenever

  • that sprung on to you on a conversation you don't freeze and panic because you

  • think God I have all this vocabulary in my brain but I just can't get it out in

  • a sentence

  • but if you practice beforehand then you have these sentences sentences ready in

  • your brain to be used and I used to do that all the time

  • I think my mom and my sister probably thought I was absolutely insane because

  • i used to speak to myself in the bedroom just rehearsing the dialogues with

  • myself in English literally

  • I'd have full-on conversations about nothing or everything with myself but I

  • think that really helps

  • tip number five is speak confidently even if you're not confident in your

  • English that can be a little bit intimidating but if you get the balance

  • right of being confident and being humble at the same time in admitting

  • that you don't know everything then I think that's the perfect mix if you too

  • arrogant in your English you're saying that you know it all

  • you won't get any sympathy from people who can detect that in the conversation

  • but if you're confident but at the same time you admit that you don't know

  • certain things you know kind of like asking them like hinting that you need a

  • little help maybe you're talking about a ship and you don't know certain parts of

  • the ship

  • what are they named in English so you can say to them you know a ship what's

  • that part called you know just kind of be gauged a little bit but be confident

  • and what you're speaking and I think that