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I'm not a native English speaker, and I have been speaking English for 5 years (the university I went to was an English-medium university). Since then, I have been using it for all my academic work.

Problem is that I can write and read in a decent manner, but I am having trouble in speaking the language.

That is why I came to the U.K. and have been studying in here for the last ~4.5 months. From what I have observed, using the language daily and hearing it constantly really helps in improving my pronunciation and my speaking skill.

Now, I will move to a new country where the native language is neither my native language nor is English, and I know that people whom I will be talking to daily are not good at speaking English either. Again, from my observation, this has a negative impact on my English language skills, because not only does it make it harder to understand them, but also hearing sentences which are not correct and natural will lead me to make similar mistakes.

Question:

How to improve my English skills while using the language daily with people who are not proficient in using the language, without absorbing their mistakes?

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I have some experience with the struggle you are describing in your post.

My boyfriend with whom I am living is not from an English speaking country, nor am I. As I am not yet proficient in his mother tongue, we use English a lot to communicate. During the first months of our relationship, I could realize how I was adopting his mistakes. So I had to take some measures.

  1. Firstly, I tried to classify which mistakes had been occurring frequently and to identify them every time they'd appear. (That works only when being concentrated all the time, but it works!).
  2. Secondly, I watched and read everything in English (news, movies, series, books etc.). That made the difference for me because I "consumed" at least some "proper" English and had enough "material" to reflect on.

On the other hand, there are quite some advantages of such a situation. Actually, you can use the situation for your own gain. My boyfriend and I are correcting each other's mistakes and learning from that. The change of perspective from native speaker of language X and native speaker of language Y speaking in language Z is interesting because they can explain (e.g.) grammar from a different point of view. (By the way, there are more non-native English speakers than native English speakers so that it will even be a valuable skill to understand different accents in the future rather than to speak perfectly - but I understand that the beauty of a properly spoken language is something to strive for.)

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  • Thanks for the answer. Yes, I have experience in understanding different accents, but it is really struggling to think of the grammar while I am speaking. That is why I have tried "internalize" the grammar so that I feel something is wrong most of the time when someone (including me) uses a wrong grammar. – onurcanbkts Jun 23 at 4:51
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    Could you render more precisely how you have tried to internalize it? My personal solution has been the act of reading and watching "correct" content with the analytical eye, e.g. "Word oder in situation X in TV Show Y". In my experience, the gained knowledge automatically undergoes the process of transferring to everyday use. Step by step, the analytical eye gets stronger and you keep up the necessary amount of concentration for a longer period. But it takes a little while. – Pastelita Jun 25 at 14:19
  • I see what you mean. What I meant by "internatise it" was basically thinking in my native language and using the first grammatical rules (tense, word order etc.) that comes to my mind when I speak. – onurcanbkts Jun 26 at 16:58
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    I see, I tend to do this as well but I think, it's not necessarily the best way. Your English sounds really advanced to me, so maybe it's time to distance yourself a little from your native language. Somehow, I discovered that you only really internalize it if you think inside the language you learn and only refer to your native language if you discover something very different (shocking). Also try to speak to yourself in English and formulate your thoughts inside your head in English. – Pastelita Jun 26 at 22:37
  • "Also try to speak to yourself in English and formulate your thoughts inside your head in English": I actually try it from time to time, and sometimes I even have to do that because all the terminology I use is in English, but still I sound very awkward and unnatural. – onurcanbkts Jun 27 at 14:25

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