Do a lot of general reading
Every week, you should read at least one English novel (or play). Read a light one — one that’s enjoyable, entertaining and easily understood, rather than a serious one. This is because light novels and plays are normally written in everyday English. And that’s the kind of English that brings you fluency. Of course, books dealing with serious subjects would also help you — if they are in everyday English. My aim is just this: I want to get you exposed to a large amount of a particular type of English — the type of English that native speakers of English actually use in speech in today’s world. Ordinary novels & plays suit fluency-building best Understand this: In general, classics of English literature won’t suit our purpose. No, they won’t. In general, they won’t help you supplement your fluency efforts. No.
Of course, classics of English literature are splendid when your aim is appreciation of literature. But not when your aim is to get help with your fluency efforts. The reason is this: Classics of English literature are generally written in a literary style, and not in an easy, conversational, everyday style. And they’re often full of literary words and expressions. Most of them even contain structures, words and expressions that are rare in speech or that are no longer used even in writing. And they may mislead you into thinking that the style of writing and vocabulary items used in them are appropriate for use in speech. And you may even unconsciously start copying them. That would be a disaster. An utter disaster.
On the other hand, light novels and plays are normally written in an ordinary, everyday style, and not in a literary style. And they’re full of structures, words and expressions that are used every day in real-life speech. These structures, words and expressions are the power-house of the English that’s actually in use — of the living English. And these are the structures, words and expressions you need to have a mastery of. Light novels and light plays get you to come across these structures, words and expressions again and again in a variety of everyday contexts. This develops your familiarity with them remarkably well, and these structures, words and expressions begin to occur to you readily whenever you think of putting facts and thoughts into words.
Ordinary crime stories, romances, humorous novels and plays may not be books of high literary merit. But they’ll give you a lot of exposure to these living structures, words and expressions. For a start, it’s better to confine yourself to one author. You’ll then be exposed repeatedly to the same language, style, expressions, etc. in a large number of situations. After you’ve read five or six books by the same author, turn to another author. Then you’ll come across a sizable amount of the same language, style, expressions,
etc. in a variety of situations created by this other author. The cumulative effect of all this reading experience would be this: A bank of ready-to-use English phrases and expressions gets set up in your brain. And through association of ideas, this bank starts supplying you with ready-to-use phrases and expressions when you think of expressing your ideas.
Books by Erle Stanley Gardner, James Hadley Chase and John Grisham are ideal from this point of view. These authors would keep you soaked in the living part of modern-day English. This is the kind of English that you’ll find to be of the most general use.
Of course, books even by these authors contain here and there vocabulary items and usages that are dated. Any book by any author is almost certain to contain a certain percentage of dated elements. But what these authors repeatedly expose you to is that part of the English language that has achieved some sort of permanence over the last 100 years or so, and not those parts that only had a short life or will only have a short life. These authors would get you immersed in English that is neither too old nor too modern.