Learning English is hard, but it’s a very popular goal. There are over 1 billion people trying to learn English, but many of them will give up. Although a lot people have the same goal, not all of them have a clear plan. Here are 5 tips to help you succeed at learning English.
- Practice Daily. To retain new vocabulary and reinforce grammar, it is important that you practice at least a little bit every day. If you go to a gym to exercise, is it more beneficial to work out for 20 to 30 minutes a day, or once a month for 10 to 15 hours? The second option would be exhausting and not get you the improvements you desire. The same is true for learning a language. Daily English practice keeps your mind in good shape, and allows you to take on new challenges.
- Know What You Want from Your Tutor. Your tutor should be more than someone who is friendly. They should understand your goals and help guide you through your plans for attaining English proficiency. Do you know your own goals? You may want to improve your grammar, increase your vocabulary, or perfect your pronunciation and your ear for accents. Make this clear to your tutor. If you want to increase your use of phrasal verbs, your tutor can suggest a new one to you each session. If this is your goal, it is a good idea to work with the same tutor as often as possible. On the other hand, if you would like to practice understanding different accents, try tutors from different parts the world.
- Prepare a Topic. Your tutor will be trained to direct conversation on a variety of topics. However, another option is to choose a topic yourself before each speaking session. If you select an article that interests you, and read it in advance, you will be able to spend more time having real conversations with your tutor based on what you have already prepared. It is a good idea to take notes while you read and ask your tutor for help if there is anything you didn’t understand. This method will pull you out of your comfort zone of reading and repeating and get you to start thinking and speaking freely.
- Allow Yourself to Make Mistakes. Perfectionism will slow down your progress. When you speak with your tutor, you should focus mostly on communication. If your errors cause confusion, your tutor will ask you for more information. If they do not, your tutor can take notes and give you suggestions after the conversation. The time to focus on your mistakes is during revision. If you don’t make any mistakes while talking to your tutor, you won’t have anything to learn from. If making mistakes makes you uncomfortable, that’s not bad! Being uncomfortable forces us to learn.
- Reinforce New Vocabulary. If you don’t practice new vocabulary, you will lose it. Are there certain words that you are always looking up? The best way to remember these words is to create your own study cards. Fold a sheet of paper in half 3 times, so that you have 8 sections. Cut them out. On one side, write the new word. On the other side, write the word in your language. This simple method is the best way to learn new words. If you study from English to your language, it will help with recognition, which is useful for reading and listening. If you study from your language to English, it will help with recall, which is good for writing and speaking. Once a word gets too easy, remove it from the deck. These cards are very easy to carry with you and practice any time you get a break.
Learning English is not passive. You have to take action. If you follow these 5 steps, you will find yourself progressing quickly towards your goal of English proficiency.
TO GIVE UP: to quit
TO WORK OUT: to exercise
TO TAKE ON: to decide to do something difficult
TO HAVE AN EAR FOR: to easily recognize differences
LOOK UP: to search for the meaning
CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING
- Why do a lot of people quit learning English?
- How can mistakes help you learn?
- In what way can study cards help with speaking and writing? With reading and listening?
- Besides learning another language, what is the most difficult thing you have ever learned to do?
- Think of a time you made a mistake at work. How did you feel? Did you learn anything from it?