Find out how I became fluent in English, having learnt it as a second language, and my TOP 10 TIPS for speaking a foreign language fluently and confidently. If you have any questions, please leave them on the comments below and I will be happy to answer them!
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Hi, I’m Ysis! I am Brazilian-born, living in the UK with my welsh husband and our baby boy, James, born in April 2015. I’m currently pregnant with baby number 2, due in March 2017!
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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 a second language on how to communicate well and be understood in a foreign language when you live in abroad and if you don't know anything about me 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 and 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 times 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 is 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 all 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 in a 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 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 realized 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 and in my English school and I'd come home and it wasn't something that I was forced to do as something that I wanted to do and so I'd watch things in English and try understand what they were saying and I loved my dictionary I walked around everywhere with my Portuguese to English dictionary translating words in 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 very basic knowledge of English but I just got so intrigued and interested in all of it and 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 not 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 a 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 of 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 vocabulary and learned so much just by being abroad so that really really helped me I finish 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 program 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 a what they call the conversation course which was basically you finished the class you finished 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 just have conversations basically there will be topics to be discussed every week we'll have handouts and things and I'm sure you still be learning so I did that and that was brilliant I love that and I recommend that anyone who's finished their whole English course and wanting 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 have 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 with a still boyfriend a girlfriend he is Welsh and my brain just like 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 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 admin' morph into their accent and it's I really have no control over it it just happens so that happens in English as well the more eyes that spend 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 like my top tips for speaking in English in 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 like open your mouth and say the words don't mumble don't speak quietly because people find it difficult to understand you especially you know 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 of a lot of frustration when you're trying to communicate and people can't understand what you're saying articulate 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 hon Aldo 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 foreign Aldo 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 by pronouncing it the way that you would in Portuguese so if you know how people in 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 that 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 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 it wrong and that prevented me from starting conversations because I didn't want to make mistakes especially in English my 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 realized 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 like 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 and 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 you know speaking and keep the conversation flowing and that will make you more confident like you know in your mind that you made a mistake but you're correct it next time don't worry that person is not going to 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 and 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 in Portuguese we don't have that sound so that's a sound that you have to learn and I remember sitting in my bedroom with a list of words that start with th and literally sing 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 four 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 conversations that come up when you're talking to other 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 kinds of drinks do you 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 up and rehearse it beforehand 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 so useful to have because then whenever that sprung onto 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've practiced 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 mum my sister probably thought I was absolutely insane because I used to speak to myself in the bedroom just rehearsing 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're too arrogant in your English you know 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 a ship what are they named in English so you can say to them you know a ship what's that parts called you know just kind of be gauge a little bit but be confident in what you're speaking and I think that really helps with making yourself understood and that leads me on to tip number six which is if you can't find the word try describing what the word means very very often I'll be speaking to someone and I won't know a certain word or I will have forgotten it completely and I still want to carry on that conversation without interrupting it to go and look in the dictionary or to go and try and get my brain working and so whilst you're in the conversation in the middle of it if you forget a word try describing what it means for example if you're talking about a DSLR camera and you can't remember what the word DSLR is you say you know those big cameras that usually have the detachable lens I'm sure someone else will say yeah DSLR camera so you know they will help you out in the conversation if you're asking for help in the right way but if you stop and you say I can't remember what I'm trying to say then that person that you're trying to speak to won't be able to help you because they also don't know what you're trying to say so yeah make yourself easier to help by describing what you mean when you don't know what you want to say tip number seven is to look for alternative words of the words that you don't know and all I can think of right now is that most of the times I don't know the name of certain fruits there are only available in Brazil I don't know the translation to it in English and if I'm in the middle of a conversation I will refer to the fruit as the general category for example if it's a type of orange a specific type of orange I'll say we have an orange and this kind of orange does this and that tastes like this and looks like that instead of trying to find what that name of that specific orange is so that's just like a small example but you can find lots of synonyms and similar words to the things that you don't know you don't necessarily have to go for that specific words that you don't know tip number eight don't be afraid to ask people to repeat things if you don't hear them it's much better than being misunderstood or misunderstanding other people the majority of people are very kind when you say pardon or when you say sorry I didn't hear you or can you repeat that please just don't be afraid of asking people to repeat things that you didn't hear tip number nine is to surround yourself and immerse yourself in the language that you're trying to learn as much as possible even if you don't live in an english-speaking country or you're trying to learn English but you don't have many English friends try to immerse yourself in terms of TV shows music reading one thing I used to love doing was buying books in English and yes they were a challenge and yes they took a lot longer to read than they did in Portuguese but it paid off because nowadays I can read any books in English and it would take me just as much time as it will in Portuguese I read the whole Harry Potter series in English when I was fifteen and I found the first couple of books harder because I was getting used to it but from then onwards even if there were words that I didn't understand I would try and understand the context and that helped with the reading as well reading is a great way because you learn so many new words when you're reading and it's not something that people usually make time for these days with the internet and with YouTube people kind of spend their time more watching videos and reading blog posts rather than region book but it's so important to read books the vocabulary that you get from reading a book you can't get it anywhere else while you can't probably but in my opinion I think you get a lot out of a book tip number ten and my last tip is to listen carefully it's so important to listen to what when other people are speaking but especially if they're speaking in the language that's not your first language because it will be much harder to understand people if you tune out a little bit or if you don't listen to everything that they're saying also try and lip read as well if you can't hear what they're saying that sometimes helps if you're talking to someone in a very loud place and it's really hard to hear them look at their mouths and try to figure out what they're saying like that that is a very basic tip but it's something that's so important and if you neglect that it may cause a lot of confusion if you miss what people are saying because you weren't listening so this is my story of how I became fluent in English and my top ten tips for speaking and making yourself understood in a foreign language if you have any questions about my English speaking journey then make sure to leave them on the comments below and if you have any other questions about you know living abroad or speaking English as a foreign language I'll be more than happy to answer your questions if you liked this video make sure to give it a thumbs up and if you're not subscribed to my channel already make sure you do so so you don't miss any of my videos thank you so much for watching and I'll see you in my next video bye