Ways to Improve your English
All English learners want to improve their English as quickly as possible, but as you know, it can be a difficult process! For you to learn well, you will need to work on all areas of the language. The four main fields for you to focus on are: Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening.
At EC, our English courses are based around these 'core skills' because their development help you become a fluent English speaker.
Here are some proven ways to help you learn English well. Good Luck!
Speak as often and as much as possible! Language is about communication, so the more you communicate, the better. This is the best way to practice your English! This is a reason why many people choose to learn English abroad. Conversation can really help you improve but to improve a lot you need to be a conscious learner.
What does it mean to be a conscious learner?
First of all, be ready to try new words and expressions. Do not always take the easy route of using language you are comfortable with, you will only develop your language if you continue to challenge yourself and try new language in conversation.
Also, be aware of the language you are using, how easy it is for your conversation partner to understand what you are saying and how they respond to you.
While you can practise reading, writing, and listening on your own, it's obviously better to speak English with someone. The best way to do this is to be in an English-speaking environment. Learning is, of course, the quickest way to learn but if you are not able to travel why not join a live online class at EC Virtual. You can study at home but still benefit from an international class.
Surrounding yourself with English speakers will really help your language develop, when you really need to use language that is when you learn the most. You will soon fine that key language becomes automatic and you your need to translate in your head will reduce. This happens at all levels. From a simple 'How are you?' to far more complex language.
Please bear in mind that conversations are a two-way event – listening is just as important as speaking and being able to understand people from all over the world is a great gift!
It's not enough to only learn lists of English words, learning phrases and chunks of language help you sound much more natural. Natural conversation involves chunks of language, when you learn new chunks, think about how you will use them in conversation and then practising them will help you make this language automatic.
This might sound a little strange and embarrassing at first, but record yourself talking and listen to your own pronunciation, talking speed and the flow of your speaking. It will give you a great chance to see the areas you need to work on. Finally, it's fun to sing in English, so learn some English songs and sing your heart out!
Listening to English
This really is a skill that needs to be practised regularly. Like speaking, it's better for you to be in a totally English speaking environment. Full immersion is the best way for you to improve your level. Again, nothing can beat learning at an English language school abroad. Second is having the opportunity to listen during online lessons; interacting with real people in English from the comfort of your own room.
However, you can also practice at home. You can watch TV shows, movies or listen to podcasts in English. To begin with, don't try to listen for too long, and choose something that is interesting for you, it's good to have something you can listen to over and over again and great if you can also have subtitles. When listening to something more than once; first, try to catch the general meaning, then, listen a second time for more in-depth information. If there is something you cannot understand, first of all see if you can work it out from context and finally, check subtitles, write it down and try to use it in your next conversation. Listen to how the speaker runs words together, listen for where the stress falls on words and in sentences / language chunks and listen to the intonation. All these things will help you improve your listening skills and your speaking.
It's important to remember that in a conversation a person is not going to repeat something 10 times for you to understand, so as a long term goal, you should focus on improving your listening. Having said that, when you are in a conversation and you do not know what the other person is saying, asking them to explain and people are generally happy to do so!
Reading English is something you can do to help you learn on your own, outside of the classroom. When you come across a new word or phrase, try and guess what it means. If you cannot guess, look it up on your phone and make a note. Do not look at the word alone, look at the words around it. For example 'John is taking a test tomorrow' – it is important not just to understand test, but to also understand that the verb 'take' is used with the noun 'test'.
Try to use these new words and phrases in conversation, it's a great way to learn.
Always try and read something that is interesting for you. Online newspapers are great, start with the sections that relate to topics you are interested in, or on topics you have read about in your own language. Once you feel more confident try articles that are more challenging. If you are a lower level try reading books or articles which have been especially written for English learners. You won't learn much if you choose a book that is too difficult, it will just demotivate you. But if you want to get faster at reading, choose something easy and try timing yourself. Repeat this a few times with the same article and you will soon see an improvement.
Remember writing, like speaking is about communication. When you start learning a new language your ability to communicate meaning is more important than accuracy.
Get used to recording your thoughts in writing, start simple – shopping lists, schedules, text messages and social media posts - the sort of things you would write in your own language. if you don’t like writing stories in your own language do not try in English.
Once you are comfortable using English for day to day purposes you can increase the challenge, try keeping an English diary or journal. Start by writing a few sentences a day and then get into the habit of writing more. Try out new words, phrases and language points you have learnt.
If you need to take an exam in English or you are planning to study or work in English then you need to think about longer texts. When planning a text, think of as many ideas as you can without worrying about grammar or spelling. Then think about the structure of your text. After that, write your piece. Writing gives you a good chance to review words you have learned in the past, and allows you the time to think about grammar as you write. When you’ve written something in another language, it can be hard to see you own mistakes, so use the review tools in Word – but remember they are not always right!
None of us want to make mistakes in front of others; however, your mistakes are very important and will actually help you learn English. The key is, not to be afraid to make mistakes. Don't waste a chance to speak English because you were too nervous about making a mistake. This is especially true if you study in an English language school, teachers need to hear your mistakes, so they can correct them for you and help you improve. Don't be shy; be confident, having an 'I can do it' attitude will help you learn. Above all, try not to worry, learning English should be fun! The more fun you have, the easier you will learn!
Set yourself a goal and keep it in mind, it will motivate you to learn. For example, think about why you started to learn English. Do you need to learn English to pass a test, for business, to travel or to watch movies? Whatever the reason, you’ll find that you work harder when you focus on a target. Choose a goal that you want to achieve and then create a time-frame to achieve it by. Plan what you want to be able to do with your English ability by this time next year or in six months. Make sure that your goals are realistic and achievable. If your goals are too far ahead this can be demotivating, so reduce it to monthly goals that you can tick off and get a sense of achievement, this will really help you to keep working towards it your longer term goals.
It's worth thinking about taking an English test, or to plan a trip where you will need to use your language, so you have something 'real' you need to learn English for, this can help motivate you. Whatever you decide to do, don't give up!