I'm a Spanish speaker from Colombia. I have usually no problem communicating in English (I'm currently living in the UK), however my speech is both extremely slow and very robotic.

At first I thought I just needed to get used to the language for everyday use. And yes, I've drastically improved my skills vocabulary and grammar -wise but my speech is as broken as the first day.

Do you know of any techniques to work on this? I've noticed I'm unable to say, on one go, any sentence with can't* so any tips on how to overcome this issue?

  • or any word that ends with a "t"
  • My advice: Just get used to speaking English. The more you speak, the better you speak. Jan 30, 2015 at 0:53
  • 2
    Seconding Makoto on this - you simply lack the muscle memory at the moment. I suspect that the difficulty you're having in this case is that your muscles simply haven't figured out how to produce the glottal stop /t/ - it may help to compare this to dropping the 's' in 'más alto' when speaking rapidly (I'm not sure if this happens in Colombian Spanish). I think it's also worth noting that one possible reason for the 'broken' nature of your speech is the rhythm of the Spanish language - the duration of Spanish vowels is generally fixed, but it can vary a lot in English.
    – Pockets
    Jan 30, 2015 at 6:38

2 Answers 2


My suggestion would be to practice saying "Can't" by itself (and other words that end in T) until your tongue learns the reflexes of it. If that seems to not be working, you could even try saying first "T, t, t, t, t," and then "nt, nt, nt, nt." Then you expand to a short sentence including the trouble-words, and talk to yourself in the mirror (or shower, or car).

You might also try getting some simple song (that you don't hate!), and playing it a lot when you're alone, trying to sing along. Singing and speaking can use different reflexes for some people.

Speech has a lot of "muscle memory" in it -- if a sound combination doesn't occur in your native language, your mouth will try to do the next-nearest thing. It's tricky. You may need to really focus on what your mouth and tongue are wanting to do instead of pronounce that ending T.

(The silly answer would be to cultivate a fake scottish accent that avoids words that end in T. "The engines canna' take any more, Captain!")

Good luck!


I found this on quora.

It's tough to improve the speed of your speech because there are so many factors involved: stuttering, fluency with the language, the content that you're describing, vocabulary, and many different speaking habits.

There are two exercises and one idea that can powerfully improve your power, clarity, and speed in your speaking. I recommend these to all of my students that don't speak fast enough to earn high scores on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) that will help you.

Super-sonic Speed Exercise 1

First, you need to get a feeling for how quickly you need to speak. In general, if you're able to say approximately 80 words per 30 seconds, you speak at a rate that most would consider fluent; an average native speaker will speak about 100 words (this is how fast I would speak if I spoke naturally) in 30 seconds and if you can do that comfortably; you’ve basically mastered the language. To make sure that you're able to do this or just to get an idea of how this sounds and how fast you have to speak, copy and paste about 160 to 170 words from any article online. Then, set a stopwatch to 60 seconds and start it. Work hard to read through the information in the time that you have. Are you able to finish? If you are, that's great. You have to speak with that energy and speed when you speak naturally. If you do that, you should feel confident and no longer worry much about your speaking speed. If you're not able to say the information that quickly, then we just have to be prepared to do a lot of practice to get to that point. Remember that this is a necessity to be heard as generally fluent. Take as many tries as you need to do this. Do this every day and gradually you'll start to get more comfortable and faster. To make sure that you’re improving, keep a notebook next to you as you practice and write down how many tries it took you before you were able to finish in 60 seconds. You should notice that over time, it takes you fewer tries.

Super-sonic Speed Exercise 2

A second exercise will ensure that you can apply the previous practice to your everyday speaking speed. Set a stopwatch to 60 seconds, open up your computer speech recorder, start the timer and the recorder, and describe your day. Put in the energy to your speech that you do in the previous exercise. It should be easy to talk about your day; just talk. When the timer buzzes, stop the recorder and listen to what you recorded. You’ll notice if you’re actually speaking clearly. (That itself is another topic.) Then, do a word count on your recording. Listen to it a few times (you should be able to reduce the speed of the playback to make it easier on your audio player) to do this accurately. Do this a few times a day or at least every day and record the word count in your notebook. That number should start to get higher over time. With these two exercises, you’ll build better habits and a realistic knowledge of how quickly you speak and where you stand on the native-speaker scale of speaking speed.

An Important Idea for Speaking Speed

This exercise is tough, but it always works with students who do it on a consistent basis, which means everyday for about 20 to 30 minutes. It will help you.

The final idea that will help you speak more quickly is to know what you’re talking about and form simple, clear sentences to express yourself. If you try to be too complex or talk about what you have no idea about, even a native speaker would speak pretty slowly. I hope this helps. Good luck!

  • 5
    I am not sure it is appropriate to provide an answer consisting entirely of a block quote from somewhere else. It is definitely required that you make it very clear that it is a block quote, and name the source, rather than just providing a link. I am not downvoting you on this one, because I am new and I don't know the etiquette around quote-only answers, but I wouldn't be surprised if others do.
    – Adam
    Jan 30, 2015 at 3:47
  • Sorry I ment to add the source, il add it in the morning when I'm awake enough to go through my history Jan 30, 2015 at 4:10
  • I added it for you when I reformatted.
    – Adam
    Jan 30, 2015 at 5:15

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