Learning a foreign language can be very fun and rewarding - and also easier than it seems. Learning English has an additional advantage of it being a very popular language. It means that you will likely have no problems finding the resources, teachers, and practice partners to suit you.
In this article, we will take a look at a few of the most essential steps to take when you are learning English. They will make the process of learning easier, more effective, and more fun.
1. Study and practice regularly, ideally - every day.
This seems like a very simple idea but it is essential in mastering English. This is how our brain works to store information, such as new vocabulary or grammar, for instance, in our long term memory we need to repeat that information a few times. A lot of people make the mistake of taking very big breaks between the repetitions.
It is common practice to have English classes once or twice a week. After all, our busy lives hardly allow us to study more. But if you study once a week it is likely that you forget most of what you have learned in one lesson by the time of the next one.
You do not have to spend hours studying every day. Sometimes just a few minutes are enough. You can have a long class one day, do your homework the next day, then watch a short video on YouTube or do some practices on a language learning site such as Sylingo, through which you can add the words and sentences that you learn and take tests by using the Quizzes on the site. The site will send notifications to remind you to study the words and sentences to repeat and practice them regularly.
The important thing is that you practice English regularly - this way you will make steady progress in mastering the language.
2. Try different resources and methods of learning English.
There is no method or resource that is perfect for everyone and can be enough to learn English by using it alone. Even if you have a great teacher who provides you with ample practice of all the essential skills you will benefit from independent practice and using English in your daily life. This does not mean that you should cancel classes with your current teacher or give up the textbook you are using. But you can supplement them with other methods of learning and practicing English - this will make your progress even faster.
Here are some of the things you can do, apart from traditional face-to-face classes with a teacher or at a language school:
- Use language learning websites like sylingo and memrise.
- Watch video-lessons or just fun videos on youtube.
- Watch movies and TV-shows on netflix.
- Communicate with English-speakers or fellow learners on language exchange websites like interpals.net, hellotalk.com or tandem.net .
- Read and watch the news at bbc or voanews.
- Read books at gutenberg and listen to audiobooks at librivox.
- Listen to the radio at tunein.
- Listen to stories in English while reading the text at the same time thefablecottage.
Most of these resources are free to use or have very affordable premium options. And these are just a few examples - there are many more things that you can try out.
3. Start speaking English from the very beginning
It may sound like a daunting task if your level is not high enough, but it is important to start speaking English as soon as you start learning. Of course, your first conversations will be simple: saying hello, introducing yourself, talking about the weather… But the sooner you start speaking English the better.
One of the things about mastering English or any other foreign language is that you can learn for a long time, do all the exercises, and be good at it, but you can still have problems when you actually have to speak the language in a real-life situation.
To avoid it, start speaking English right now! Luckily, with the Internet, finding a speaking partner is not that hard: on language exchange websites, like those mentioned in the previous paragraph, you can meet hundreds of people from all over the world who can speak English or are learning it as well.
4.Fit English into your daily life.
To learn and practice English more successfully, it is a good idea to combine it with the activities that you already do, but do them - at least partly - in English. If you watch movies, try watching one in English - you can turn on English subtitles to help your understanding. If you enjoy music, listen to songs in the English language. You can find texts of the songs online, and read as well as listen. If you have a hobby, find an English-speaking community or forum devoted to this hobby or watch tutorials in English.
This way you will kill birds with one stone. On the one hand, you will be doing the activity you enjoy. On the other hand, you will also be practicing English. And doing something you enjoy in English makes learning the language much easier!
5. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, ask questions, ask for advice.
This is, of course, easier said than done. But it is an important idea to keep in mind.
First of all, making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. We simply cannot learn without making mistakes! And although you may be a bit shy about it, it is better to make a mistake and then correct it than keep your mouth shut. True, you make no mistakes if you keep silent, but you also don’t learn anything.
Secondly, it is absolutely okay to ask for a little help or clarification. There are quite a few tricky points in English grammar, there are words that have multiple meanings that can be very confusing. It is normal to ask your teacher to clarify something or, if you are learning by yourself, ask users at a language forum, such as, for instance, englishforums.
6. Be active in your learning.
There are different ways of learning that fit different people. But in general, the more active you are, the more progress you will make and the faster you will master English.
Here are some of the ways you can be more active in your learning:- When reading or watching something, write out useful words and expressions, and add them to your account on sylingo.com, look them up in a dictionary or use the auto-translation on the site, write down sentence examples and try to make up your own examples. You can also listen to the words and phrases pronouncing and practice them.
- When listening or watching something, pause and repeat some of the lines after the speakers; try to sound as close to their pronunciation as possible
- After reading a book or watching a movie, discuss it with someone - in English, of course
- If you are talking to someone and they say something you do not understand, ask them to repeat or clarify
The idea is to go a step further than just doing an exercise, reading a text, or having a conversation. The more you analyze the language, the more language material you ‘collect’ this way, the more effective your learning will be.
Learning English is a serious process, but do not take it too seriously! It is also important to enjoy your learning, to have a little fun in the process. Read some jokes, listen to music, choose topics that you are interested in, have great conversations.
Learning English is much more than learning vocabulary and doing grammar exercises. And it can be much more fun than you imagine - if you allow it to be.