Common comments that I hear English learners say is that they want to speak correctly, speak more fluently, feel more confident, and think less when they speak. A simple way to help work toward those goals is through basic repetition. Of course, there are many things you can do to make you a better English speaker, but in this article I will focus on one one thing -- and that is repetition. As part of your English learning and practice, repetition will help you speak much better and more confidently.
What do I mean exactly by repetition? For example, we know that in English the correct way to say our age is, “I am 20 years old”, and not, “I have 20 years old”. But this bad habit is sometimes difficult to correct, and in a conversation, what comes out of your mouth is the incorrect sentence, even though in your head you know the correct way. So, to train yourself to say this phrase correctly, simply repeat this phrase again and again, making sure to practice a few variations.
Try to repeat these variations 20 times, 50 times, 100 times:
- I am 20 years old
- My friend is 21 years old.
- My parents are 59 and 62 years old.
After repeating these phrases again and again, when you need to use them in a real conversation, you will not make the same mistake and you will be able to say it correctly, confidently, and without thinking. Additionally, you will be very happy about your progress and ability to speak correctly.
Repetition will have allowed you to train your mouth to speak correctly and to say this the right way every time, and this will help you gain confidence as an English speaker.
You may be thinking that repetition is for children or beginners. Or, you may think that practicing saying something once or twice is enough and you don’t need to practice such basic phrases more than a couple of times. These thoughts are incorrect. Even if you practice saying a difficult phrase five times and you say it correctly all five times, saying it 20 times will solidify and strengthen this information much more, and it will help you become a better speaker.
Sometimes, repetition is a vital part of learning how to do many things, not only learning a language. For example, when learning how to play the piano, we can’t learn a song without learning the correct chords and notes, and being able to move our fingers in the correct way can be very difficult. So, we must practice these basic notes and chords again and again and again until we can do it on instinct.
The same concept applies to learning how to play an instrument, learning a new sport, or learning how to drive a car; and, the same applies to learning English (or all other languages). You have to practice moving your mouth differently, and when your mouth learns to move correctly, your brain will automatically follow.
Here’s another example.
The plural form of the word woman in English is women. However, it is not pronounced “wo-men”. It is pronounced “we-men”, and many English learners pronounce it incorrectly without realizing it. But, it is important to pronounce this word correctly, because if not, the meaning is different.
Therefore, in order to learn how to pronounce this word correctly every time and without thinking, you must repeat this word again and again and again.
- We-men, we-men, we-men, we-men, we-men.
Again, this sounds boring, elementary, or like exercises that children do in school, but adults learn new things too and they have to practice basic repetitions to improve and get better.
How exactly do you practice this?
You're asking yourself, “When and where do I practice this? I can’t practice this on the bus or train, or in the supermarket, repeating a word. People will think I’m crazy!”. Of course, this is a fair and practical question. Anytime you are alone, in the shower, alone in your bedroom getting dressed, driving, exercising, etc., this is the time to repeat phrases or words. If you are determined to improve your English, you will make the time.
A great time is right after an English lesson when the information is still fresh in your head. Make a continuous list on your computer, tablet, phone, or a handwritten notebook of all the difficult words, phrases, and grammar structures. Then take five or ten minutes after a lesson to practice the phrases that you said incorrectly during that lesson, and repeat them again and again using different situations. Then later in the day when you are getting ready for bed, repeat these words out loud again. Focus on training your mouth to move correctly.
When I was learning Spanish in university, it was very difficult to say certain words, phrases, and sentences. So, I made myself repeat them again and again to train my mouth in order to say them correctly, fluently, confidently, and without thinking too much in a real conversation. And it worked!
This same idea of repetition applies to when you want to remember a phone number, address, ID number, passport number, or any other type of information that is important to remember. Sometimes, we have to repeat these numbers or phrases many times in order to remember them.
- When you are learning English, recognize difficult words, phrases, or grammar structures and jot them down in a list.
- Use said list, practice repeating them again and again. Remember, you are training your mouth to move correctly.
- By doing so, over time when you speak in English, you will find your speaking abilities and confidence will both improve.
If you are determined and want to improve your English, try this! I think you will find positive results with your learning. Remember, basic repetition is for everyone.