11 Tips for Learning English
Learning a new language is hard enough and English is especially weird. Unlike Math or Chemistry or some other subjects, English is fluid and things change at random. For example, one word can have many meanings depending on the sentence. Or, two words spelled the same way, have different pronunciations and meanings. This can be make learning and improving your English even more difficult. The best way to do this is to practice, practice, practice!
Here are 11 simple things you can do to help your English learning
- Word of the day! Use new vocabulary daily. Set a target to learn at least 5 new words a day. You can try fun activities like “word of the day” with friends and family. Posting sticky notes by your clothes or fridge for constant reminders of new words. Share and practice using these new words through social media sites like Whatsapp, Instagram, Twitter and Snap Chat. Try sending daily words to friends and family and challenging each other to use these words in sentences. This will give you additional practice and help you remember what you have covered in the classroom. An added bonus is that your friends will improve their vocabulary too.
- Actual speaking. To become fluent and functional in a language, you will need to practice actually using the language and speaking more. Take every opportunity to speak to natives and non-native speakers so that you become comfortable actually saying words and making conversation. Use every chance you got to show off your English by speaking to people you meet in restaurants or while shopping. The more you speak, the easier English learning will become.
- Go overseas. Head abroad to an English Speaking country or any country where English is widely spoken (like Malaysia for example). This sink-or-swim method will force you to have to communicate in English or a “common default” language with others. You’d be amazed at how much English you can speak when push comes to shove.
- Take Photos. You love taking photos anyway, why not take a photo of new vocabulary words or signs in English and make it your screen saver? This way anytime you pick up your phone (which you will do many times a day) the vocabulary will be the first thing you see and it will create a lasting memory. Ideally, the words should have a photo beside it to help make sense of its meaning. Also, by having the vocabulary on your phone, you don’t need to worry about pulling out and opening a book to review these words. You can then study or review them on your commute by train or bus.
- Stay Interested. Focus on topics that interest you. For example, if you like sports, then focus on this topic in the English books, movies, podcasts, etc. that you select. If you find a subject enjoyable, you are more likely to focus and remember things about it. The more you explore these topics you care about, the more you will remember and want to learn.
- Set up a routine for your language learning and practice. Just like going to the gym to get fit and build muscle, setting a regular schedule for when you study and practice English will help to build your “language muscle”. Set aside a specific block of time daily to focus on developing. It’s important to always go back and review language that you learned a week, a month, or a few months ago. Think of it like exercise. If you don’t use it, you lose it.
- Meet Ups and Language Exchange. Don’t be afraid to join meet-ups for groups you are interested in. Do you like board games? Check Facebook and Twitter for the next board games meeting in your city. Step out of your comfort zone, meet new people and force yourself to speak English, even if you make mistakes.
One step at a time. Learning a new language is like eating an elephant. It’s a big task to do so. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Similarly, learning English language should be tackled a little at a time with each lesson building on the last. So stay the course.
- To increase your fluency, you should find and imitate a native speaker. You can select a live person or better yet, choose someone from your favourite English TV show and practice speaking the way they do. Choose a regular TV show, for example, “Friends” and select your favourite character like Joey or Ross and practice saying a couple lines after they speak. Another idea is to pause the show every 10 minutes and try to explain what just happened. Doing this frequently, can help to improve your listening and fluency.
- Stay Positive. Remember that learning is a process. Sometimes it takes longer than we would like, but if we keep to our goals, maintain our habits, and stay positive it will happen! Here is a new idiom for you today: Slow and steady wins the race!
- Don’t give up. No matter how far along you are in your language-learning journey, it’s important to be mindful of why you started this process. Understanding your purpose will help you stay motivated and keep you on track. “…if you don’t have a good reason to learn a language, you are less likely to stay motivated over the long-run.” No matter your reason, once you’ve decided on a language, it’s important to commit.
Teacher Simone is an English language teacher who has been teaching students of all levels for many years in many different countries around the world. She is currently working at Elicos where she specializes in IELTS preparation, pronunciation, and workshops for teachers and students. If you’d like to get in touch with her you can pop into Elicos and meet her for yourself or reach her at [email protected]