Well, the brutally honest and probably not what you want to hear, answer to this is: SLOW THE FUCK DOWN.
You see, there’s this myth that native speakers of English speak very, very fast. And because you believe this myth, you imitate what they do, so you speak English like a teenager driving a car down country lanes at a maniac’s speed.
But this myth isn’t true at all. Most native speakers don’t actually speak really fast.
Sometimes, to non-natives, they only sound like they’re speaking fast. But what they’re actually doing is chunking and articulating their speech well.
And, you know, speaking fast doesn’t mean you’re actually fluent at all.
There are a couple of reasons why people may speak too fast in English:
- Their natural rate of speech (some do speak fast, some don’t).
- Their first language has a high average rate of speech compared to English. (e.g. Italian)
- Their fear of making mistakes (therefore they speak fast to cover it up).
- They want to impress people (they won’t).
When you talk about covering your mistakes and impressing people to sound fluent, what you’re actually doing is the complete opposite of that. People won’t understand you when you speak English fast and incoherently.
So instead of speaking fast, speak CLEARLY.
Focus on the clarity of your speech and of your speaking.
Work on the naturalness of your speech (native-like selection), which is speaking in high-frequency, native-like chunks of English. That way, you’ll sound better when you speak English.
If you want to learn more about how to speak better English, have a look at the free training I made. It goes into detail about how native speakers speak, and what learning (and speaking) in chunks means.
Hope this helps.
Dr Julian Northbrook