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Do you really need to live in an English-speaking country to get fluent?


There’s a common belief that in order to truly master a second language, we should totally immerse ourselves in the language and culture where the language is spoken. What it basically means is that as English learners we often hear that if we really want to become fluent and feel free in English, we’d better pack up our stuff and move to an English speaking country.

Where did this idea come from? We might compare how we communicate in our first language, to the way we communicate in English. We learned our first language surrounded by native speakers, so if we want to learn English, we need to do the same…right?!

On top of that, the English teaching industry is filled with companies and teachers that sell us this idea that we MUST live in an English speaking country in order to get fluent fast! This idea is pretty common, but the truth is that it’s not helping any of us! Most of us can’t or don’t want to move! But more importantly, we don’t need to in order to improve.

Even if we moved to an English speaking country, it doesn’t guarantee fluency. There are many immigrants that move to an English speaking country, yet still find ways to avoid using English, or live in communities where they can use their first language.

On the other hand, I personally know amazing and successful speakers of English, who have NEVER been to an English speaking country!

So, what’s the trick? You don’t need to pack your bags now, there’s another way!

If you don’t live in an English speaking country, there are many ways you can improve and achieve limitless fluency. I know it’s possible because I’ve seen it happen many times!
The most important thing is to be intentional in your practice and speaking time. Create a clear schedule and stay consistent with your practice. It’s also important to practice speaking. Speak by yourself, get a speaking partner, or join us in our free online English community – The InFluency Community!
If you’re ready to take it to the next level, my signature program New Sound offers step-by-step guidance on how you can achieve limitless fluency, no matter where you live.

For more about how you can improve without moving to an English speaking country, watch this episode:


Podcast Intro:

Welcome to the InFluency podcast. I’m your host, Hadar. And today we are going to talk about how to get fluent when you don’t live in an English speaking country.

Hey, hey, everyone. Thank you so much for being here today and for tuning in. Today we’re gonna talk about fluency. I love talking about fluency and how to get fluent. Because ultimately, that’s what we want. Why do we want pronunciation? So it doesn’t get in our way. Why do we want more words, more vocabulary? So that we don’t get stuck. Why do we want good grammar? Because we don’t want to get confused or be unclear.

So all of that is designed to help us be fluent. Which means to say what we want without thinking about the fact that we’re saying it in English and without second guessing ourselves. That is an ideal. Sometimes we even want to be fluent in our own language, I feel. Sometimes I feel not fluent in my first language, in Hebrew, when things just don’t pass from my brain to my mouth smoothly enough, unfortunately.

Anyway, how to get fluent. But this time we’re gonna talk about how to get fluent when you don’t live in an English speaking country. Now, before I talk about that, I wanna say that if you do live in an English speaking country, then this episode is still for you because I’m going to give you some practical tips to improve. A lot of times people do live in an English speaking country, but at home they speak their first language, which is totally, you know, reasonable. I would continue speaking in my first language, even if I lived in the UK or US.

But sometimes you may live in a community where you are mostly speaking your first language, right? Maybe you don’t have a lot of opportunities to connect outside of your circle of friends. So, I think it’s still relevant for you, even if you speak English on a daily basis. Because really, it’s all about practical strategy and mindset. And that’s what we’re gonna talk about today.

But going back to why it’s important to talk about getting fluent when English is not your first language… Because this is a very common belief that many of my students and followers have. And that is: that you can’t get fluent, really fluent, if you don’t live in an English speaking country. And that is so not true. And today I’m going to dismantle that belief, and show you why that is not true, and how you should not use that as an excuse for not putting in the work or seeing the improvement that you’d want to see. Because improvement is possible for everyone, especially in this day and age, and with internet, you know.

So, that is what we have for you today. I’m very, very excited about today’s episode. And yes, if you like this episode, consider rating it and even writing a review. Because I will know what you think, and also other people will know if this podcast is for them or not. And if they find out about it, it might help them too. So if you can take a minute and rate and review the podcast, I will be so grateful. Thank you. And now let’s listen to the podcast.

Video transcript:

Do you really need to live in an English speaking country, if you want to get really fluent? This is the question of all questions. I often hear from my students that the reason why they’re not yet fluent or they don’t have a way to practice is because they don’t live in an English speaking country.

And also, I find a lot of articles and blogs that talk about the fact that if you really wanna immerse yourself in English, you have to surround yourself with English speakers – native English speakers. Which means that you have to relocate or go for a summer camp or anything else they’re trying to promote.

But the question is, is it really true? Do you have to live in an English speaking country to get fluent? If you answered ‘yes’, then I wanna examine and explore this idea today, and see if this is really true. And then I’m gonna also share with you my own experience when I was living in the US for five years, and then when I wasn’t living in the US, and the impact it had on my English and my ability to communicate; and if there was a difference. So I’m going to tell you from my own personal experience, if this is something that has worked for me or not.

But first, I wanna talk about the fact that if we believe that this is true, meaning that the only way to get really fluent and confident in English is to live in an English speaking country, if this is the belief that you have, the question is… is this serving you? Whether it’s right or not, whether it’s true or false, is this the right thought pattern that you should have and own if you wanna get fluent in English?

Let me explain. When we have a certain thought and a certain limitation, right, like this thought: “Okay, it’s not possible for me if I don’t live it in English speaking country”, the reality that you create for yourself is based on that thought. So that means that you won’t even try or won’t even do things that will help you. Because you have this belief that it doesn’t matter what you’re gonna do – it’s still not gonna work for you. You’re not gonna be fluent.

So whether it’s true or not – and I hope that by the end of the video, you’ll have a pretty solid idea whether or not it’s true – the most important thing is that you need to decide how you think about it. Because if this is your reality and you can’t move to an English speaking country, it does not matter. And you should not settle for less than fluent or even limitless fluency. Right? And if you believe that it’s possible for you, you are more likely to do things that will get you closer to that goal.

Now, to continue this conversation, I want you to ask yourself two questions, and to see if this belief that you have is rooted in reality. The first question that I would want you to ask yourself is, Do you know of people who have moved to an English speaking country, and yet they don’t feel fluent, they haven’t been able to reach fluency? Because I can tell you that I’ve had a lot of students who have been living in the US or Canada or Australia or the UK for 5, 10, 15 and even 20 years, and they still don’t feel fully fluent.

And there are many reasons for that. One of the reasons is that in many cases, when you move or when you immigrate, you might find yourself in an environment that still speaks your first language. Maybe you still speak your first language at home and you don’t get to interact a lot. And maybe sometimes you’re afraid so you avoid communicating in English, and then you don’t use your English. And that means that you will not improve.

And that is the case for a lot of people, a lot of immigrants. So, living in an English speaking country does not guarantee fluency. And another reason for that is that it does not matter if you do have a lot of opportunities to practice English and to speak English. If you don’t take advantage of these opportunities, if you don’t focus on what you really need to learn, again, the result is that you’re not going to see the impact, or you’re not gonna reach your goals. So, reality shows that living in an English speaking country does not guarantee fluency.

On the other hand, do you know of people who don’t live in an English speaking country, yet they are fluent and confident, and maybe some of them might even teach English? I know quite a few. For example, my student Katya. Katya lives in Russia, she has always lived in Russia, all her life. And now not only that she is so fluent in English, she is an ambassador in one of our programs, which means that she’s helping our students get through the program. She hosts a lot of conversation groups, she delivers public talks. And sometimes she even confuses her first language, Russian, and uses English words because English is so dominant in her life.

Or Artur, a student of mine from Brazil, who is absolutely fluent. In fact, in one of our previous sessions inside of New Sound, he said that there was a moment where he spoke and he felt so effortless and everything is just pouring out of his mouth. He has reached this feeling that we usually have only when we speak our first language or when we reach limitless fluency. And he has never lived in an English speaking country. So that feeling is possible even without living in an English speaking country.

Or Marcela, our coach. We call her our grammar queen, cuz she is remarkable. And she helps our students tremendously, she coaches in Beyond. And she has always lived in Argentina. She has not lived in an English speaking country. Yet not only that she’s fluent, she makes an impact in people’s lives, teaching English.

So as you can see, and as you can hear these stories, it is possible. And if it is possible for them, there is no reason why it wouldn’t be possible for you. And if it is possible for them, it means that it’s not a fact, it’s just a thought. It’s a belief. It’s not rooted in reality because, hey, you have proof for both arguments.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about my personal experience. When I moved to the US, I was 20, almost 21. And I think that living in the US has definitely helped me improve. So for me, it was a big part of why I was able to reach fluency. But wait, because there is a twist in the story. I did decide that once I’m there, I only connect with English speakers – not just native speakers, but English speakers, because I wanted to immerse myself in English, in the culture. And in a way, I also wanted to move away from my own, you know, language and culture. Because I was going through my own things and trying to discover like this new identity of mine.

So, I was talking in English, I was working in English, I only had friends in English. And definitely that helped me gain fluency. But when I moved back to Israel when I was 25, it definitely had an impact on my fluency, flow, and confidence. I stopped using English. I was not teaching in the first few years that I was living there. And my English definitely became rusty. I felt more stuck, I felt like my pronunciation was deteriorating. I did not feel comfortable in English, I felt artificial. And it didn’t feel like English was my ally anymore, like it used to feel.

Now at that point, I only lived in Israel. Like I was not using English, I was not speaking English. And that is when I thought about this idea of teaching people. Because to be honest, how I started was because I was looking for an extra income. And I was like, What can I do to make more money and to feel more fulfilled? And I was like, Oh, I know pronunciation! And that’s when I started teaching pronunciation.

But like I said, my English was pretty rusty. So I don’t know if you know the story about me, but when I started teaching pronunciation, I started teaching in Hebrew. And only when I had to make the sounds, I would switch to English. But even though I did not move back to an English speaking country, I started gradually building my confidence. I started practicing more, I did a lot of imitation exercises. And at some point I forced myself to start only teaching in English. And that had a big impact on my confidence and my fluency. Because I started immersing myself in English, regardless of the environment I was in. I just created for myself a lot of situations where I was able to speak in English.

So, speaking from my own personal experience – yes, living in the US has helped my fluency, but I was very, very proactive, and I was speaking all the time. And when my English deteriorated, I was able to go back to this feeling of fluency by taking action, even though I wasn’t living in an English speaking country.

So to conclude, the way I see it – and again, this is what has worked for me and what I see with my students – it has nothing to do with what’s happening outside. It really has to do with you, how you think, your beliefs, and the action that you take.

So as you can see, you do not need to live in an English speaking country to be able to get fluent. And here are a few things that need to happen for you to get fluent, no matter where you live, but in particular, if you don’t live in an English speaking country and you don’t have a lot of opportunities to speak.

The first one is to create a schedule for yourself, to plan ahead, and to build a habit of practicing English daily. Especially, again, if you don’t encounter English speakers on a regular basis, on a daily basis, you have to create that for yourself. So either you speak to yourself or you find conversation partners, or you speak to your family, but you have to create a habit of speaking in English, every single day.

You also have to create a schedule around what you do and what you practice every week, what you focus on, so you don’t fall into the trap of the illusion of learning. The illusion of learning is where you do a lot of work and you learn a lot, but actually you’re not progressing cuz you’re not focusing on what you really need. I have more videos about that for you. And I’m going to link to it in the description below.

Now, another thing is that you want to surround yourself by people who are like-minded, who also want to strive for limitless fluency, and also who would hold you accountable. And this is where I invite you to join my online free community called the InFluency Community, where we practice conversation topics every single week. And there is a beautiful Speaking Club where you can meet with other people and practice speaking. And we have a lot of fun challenges. And like I said, it’s absolutely free and it’s accessible for everyone. And you can do that no matter where you live in the world, as long as you have an internet connection. So I’m going to link to that in the description below as well. And I highly recommend for you that take advantage of it.

And finally, you wanna set very clear goals and decide for yourself what it looks like to be fluent, so that you can measure your progress and know when you are actually making changes and when you’re actually reaching your goals. If you wanna find out more, and if you need more help and guidance in learning how to immerse yourself in English, no matter where you live in the world.

I also wanna let you know that New Sound, my signature program, is designed to do just that. It offers you the roadmap to reaching limitless fluency, and it tackles all the necessary elements: whether it’s mindset, building habits, pronunciation, confidence, effective practice, learning strategies, and so much more. So I’m going to link below to the wait list, and you’re invited to sign up to be the first to know when we open doors.

Thank you so, so much for being here. Remember, it does not matter what is around you. The most important thing is your attitude towards it, and your willingness to learn and to practice. You’ve got this! You really do.

Have a beautiful, beautiful rest of the day. And I will see you next week in the next video. Bye.

The InFluency Podcast
The InFluency Podcast
245. Do you really need to live in an English-speaking country to get fluent?

What do you think? Is it necessary to move to an English-speaking country in order to achieve fluency?

Join the InFluency Community
Feel Stuck in English? Here’s why (The illusion of learning)

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One Response

  1. Absolutely! Couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said, Hadar. A person who taught me A LOT about pronunciation is from Poland, he spent some time abroad but he lives and works from his home country. If you’re unable to surround yourself with English here good chance it won’t happen to you there.
    Well, now this question doesn’t look that hard. Thanks, Hadar, for clearing it up.

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