English Communication Confidence Blog

American Accent: An Interview on Fluency

May 19, 2022

In this post, I return to speak with a native Portuguese speaker from Brazil who is learning the power of the pause. In today's post, she shares her insights about speaking with intentional pausing and how she uses reading out loud as a way to adopt the rhythm and speed of English. Read on for other great tips from Ana Paula Cota in our conversation.


Video Transcript:

Jill: We are back today with Ana Paula Cota, our life coach who works with women on confidence. Today, we're going to talk a little bit about fluency. What does fluency mean to Ana Paula. We're going to check in with her and see how she's doing with her punctuation in her voice, and we're just going to talk a little bit more about the whole idea of speed of speech and making sure that you're pausing really well. We're back with Ana Paula Cota, thanks for being here again.


Ana Paula: I'm happy to be here.


Jill: Last time, when we were talking, we talked a little bit about fluency. I was saying that sometimes, a non-native English speaker thinks that speed, speaking quickly, means that they are fluent. I just wanted to talk to you a little bit about what do you think of when you say "I'm fluent in English", what does that mean to you?


Ana: That's actually a good question. I think if you ask me that it's when my thought process is not getting in the way, when I'm speaking with flow, which means I'm not self-conscious about the process, which is hard when English is not your first language. I feel like the better I become in the language, the better it flows; therefore I have more fluidity--how do you say that one?


Jill:Fluency. Does that mean that the vocabulary is coming, the grammar is coming, is that what you mean? Like if it's coming--


Ana: Yes, when I'm not thinking. Literally, it means that I'm not thinking before I speak. That's how I see that. if you ask me how do I see that, when I'm not thinking before I speak, where the message coming as the thought process is there. But it's not about the language itself, it's about my thought processes. Does that make sense?


Jill: It totally makes sense because in our native language, we don't--it's like either the thoughts aren't there because we don't know what the thoughts are. It's not a question of "Am I getting the language that I want to communicate my thought."


Ana: I knew that's what I meant to say.


Jill: Let me take this question one step further, when you think about the delivery of the message, imagine your thoughts are there, it's coming, you're in a great communication moment, what does fluency mean then, with regards to flow and speed, for you?


Ana: Intimacy with language, and I think that's probably why I love reading. Because in a way, even if you don't have an active process of trying to learn those grammars, the more I read, the better I become at speaking because it's understanding how people are coding it, how you put in the words together as a native. When I read something that you wrote or somebody that is native had written, I feel like I'm getting into that rhythm of language. So, it's not so awkward how I'm placing the words and that's what I mean maybe.


Jill: So, the more you read, it helps you with your speech?


Ana: Absolutely.


Jill: I totally want to point that out; reading out loud, especially, will help you with your speech in general, for sure. Last time, if you remember, we talked about punctuating your speech. How have you been doing with that? Have you been noticing if you're pausing a little bit more, having more intention with your communication?


Ana: Absolutely. It's funny that you said before, I made a point to read out loud in bed one day and thinking of what had spoken, and not only that, I think with my social interactions, I'm trying also. I also even spoke about you, I said, "I have this friend and she's a coach for accent reduction, and I feel like she helps me so much because my speed is way too fast". Just to make it clear, when I speak fast it's because I just want to get there much more than thinking that I'm sounding fluently.


Jill: And it might not probably be a language thing.


Ana: No, it's like literally I probably do it in Portuguese too, and it has definitely helped me since a week ago that we spoke and I feel more conscious. The only way to get even better is to be conscious for a long time until it becomes the normal, which is not right now.


Jill: Even while you're talking to me and maybe we'll just talk another minute or so, I'd love to have you have that clarity of pausing. Because you did it a few times while you're just speaking to me, and it just gave me that extra time to think about that phrase. Not the whole point you're making, but one phrase at a time to kind of think about it like that.


Ana: It's definitely unnatural, so I will need more time. And as I said, I really plan on working on that and even on my daily conversations, I'm trying better. And when I think of you, actually that's why I think it's precious to have a coach. Because when I think of that desired outcome, I think of you: how you speak and how you breathe. And you're not slow, it's sounding like I'm like, "Okay, Jill hurry up." It's perfect timing, just my time is ahead of that and I'm trying to become more aware.


Jill: Well, right there too, I hope that you could hear that too that there's definitely more pacing and pausing. Two things I'm getting from my viewers: first of all, we want to make sure that you're thinking of techniques like reading out loud. And when you find the phrasing when you read, you can start to feel the rhythm of the speech, which is what you were saying. Also, just to remember that fluency itself you can know the language, you have the grammar, you have the vocabulary, but think about when you're speaking there's a certain flow that requires the pauses.


I just wanted to talk to Ana a little bit more today because I just wanted to make sure that people understood that fluency doesn't equal speed. We need you to take your time, go with each phrase, pause, pace your speech and then you'll be more fluent in your speech when you're speaking.


Ana: I think that sounds beautiful. And just a point for them, again, it's been only a week, and I feel like sometimes when you're trying to learn something, in your mind you just want to kind of get it and it takes practice. I literally feel like [makes fasts peaking sounds], and when I think of that conversation we've had, I slow down but then I go into my natural mode fast again. I feel like it will take me a little while, but it just feels so refreshing to know that I'm working on myself and I think--


Jill: And having that reminder.


Ana: And it's not one class or one conversation that would change that, but that frame of mind. So you begin to slowly work on yourself and I appreciate it.


Jill: I appreciate you coming back and talking with us.


Ana: I'm happy to be here.


Jill: Thanks so much.


Ana: Thank you.


Thank you everybody, and thank you to Ana Paula Cota. We really appreciate having this conversation today about fluency and about pausing, and remembering how important it is to read out loud. So, go ahead and like and share, subscribe to the Channel, and I'll see you again next time, bye bye.

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