April 16, 2007

How to Improve Your English

This week I would like to share some motivational tips and advice for learning English.

▪ Be patient with yourself. Keep in mind that learning a language is a gradual process - it does not happen overnight.

▪ Define your learning objectives early: What do you want to learn and why?

▪ Make learning a habit. Try to learn something every day. It is much better to study (or read, or listen to English news, etc.) for ten minutes each day than to study for two hours once a week.

▪ Choose your materials well. You will need reading, grammar, writing, speaking and listening materials. Some newspapers do offer a full range of excellent study materials that can help you improve your English faster.

▪ Vary your learning routine. It is best to do different things each day to help keep the various relationships between each area active. In other words, don't just study grammar-study all the language skills.

▪ Find friends to study and speak with. Learning English together can be very encouraging. In addition, try to make friends with native speakers. If you don't live in an English environment, try to interact with people that speak only English. Go to businesses where English is spoken and try to ask for help in English. Don't look for a person that might help you in your own language.

▪ Choose listening and reading materials that relate to what you are interested in. Begin reading magazines and publications that use fairly easy language such as Reader’s Digest, People, and Biography. Being interested in the subject will make learning more enjoyable, and thus more effective. For example, by watching English films & TV programs (especially those with subtitles) you can expand your vocabulary and hear the flow of speech from the actors. Try to listen to talk radio. This will help you get acquainted with American or British idioms and slang. There are some very interesting and informative shows well worth listening to.

▪ Music can also be a very effective method for learning English. The best way to learn though, is to get the lyrics (words) to the songs you are listening to and try to read along as the artist sings. This way you can practice your listening and reading at the same time. And if you like to sing, that’s even better!

▪ Relate grammar to practical usage. Grammar by itself does not help you use the language. You should practice what you are learning by employing it actively.

▪ Move your mouth! Understanding something doesn't mean the muscles of your mouth can produce the sounds. Practice what you are learning by saying it aloud. It may seem strange, but it is very effective.

▪ Communicate! There is nothing like communicating in English and being successful. Grammar exercises are good, but having your friend on the other side of the world understands your e-mail is fantastic!

▪ Use the Internet. The Internet is the most exciting, unlimited English resource that anyone could imagine and is available in almost every country right at your fingertips. Be sure to check out www.free-english.com, www.free-english-games.com, and www.esl-pro.com.

▪ Speak without fear. The biggest problem most people face in learning a new language is their own fear. They worry that they won’t say things correctly or that they will look stupid so they don’t talk at all. Don’t do this. The fastest way to learn anything is to do it – again and again until you get it right. Like anything, learning English requires practice. Don’t let a little fear stop you from getting what you want.

Final tips:
1. Remember that English learning is a process.
2. Be patient with yourself.
3. Practice, practice, practice!

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