Improve your English:
10 easy ways
So you’ve made the decision that you want to improve your English. Great! If you want to learn than I’m here to help. Here are my top ten tips help you improve your English. As you already know it is necessary to combine both learner and teacher perspectives. Therefore there you have it
1. Goal setting
Yes, I know it works at work, it functions in sports therefore why not use it in English learning? As easy as it may sound, setting a goal can be either precise or very general. I always suggest to first setup a big objective and then divide it into smaller goals like mile stones that you want to achieve.
As an example a beginner might say
I want to speak English!
Great! My questions are: With whom would you like to speak English? When and where? Is it for business or for private matters? From that point on we start setting smaller goals that kind of look like keyword resarch
Learn the most important English vocabulary for accounting
Setting specific goals limits the amount of material that we need to learn and makes our learning process more effective. Instead of concentrating on everything we limit our focus to for example one grammar aspect and 50 vocabulary pieces or more.
Setting smaller goals will bring faster results setting big, general goals with no finish line on the horizon.
2. Check your level!
Many people want to learn English and they immediately have sentences and expressions that they want to learn. Of course I fully agree. Fixed expressions are cool as long as you really will train and memorize them. On the other hand we actually learn very short expressions that we use quite often in our daily lives i.e. “Hi this is Bart. How may I help you?. That is why I strongly suggest you start checking your CEFR levels. What is it? The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages is a system created to help learners and teachers to adjust the training materials (texts, exercises etc.) to the users (or learners) of the language. Go to this website, scroll down to the common reference levels and make a choice what type of user are you? Basic, independent or proficient?
Why is it so important to check your level?
Materials which are too easy are boring and stop engagement. Materials that are too hard kill the engagement and discourage the learners. Choose your materials, books, texts and exercises appropriately to your level.
3. Passive listening.
After checking your level it’s time do start listening. What should you listen to? Everything! Ranging from your favourite Netflix or Amazon Prime, to your favourite Youtube clips. Of course, if you have a favourite music genre you can also try the English version. What should we listen to?
Songs, dialogues, news, interviews, documentaries, films, cartoons, series, presentations whatever, it’s passive listening you should simply hear it in the background. English has a different pronunciation; intonation and the accents fall differently in the sentences as well.
Regarding new vocabulary you always need three aspects: pronunciation, meaning, spelling.
Where should you listen? Absolutely everywhere! Listen at home, at work, on the subway, on your way to work, in the car, in the office, during your brakes. Everywhere!
4. Active listening
Active listening involves adding a bit of exercise to the listening process. It can range from consecutive translation of the sentences that you hear, to listening to find particular information in the text, to the most basic stopping and repeating the vocabulary pieces or the batches of text.
In order for our active listening to support our training it should involve taking notes and marking the new vocabulary pieces or grammatical constructions, researching them and adding them to your vocabulary lists. Talk of the devil…
5. Word lists
At university this was something that some of the professors hated but we kept on preparing them. Every topic or unit would eventually end up on a massive very comprehensive vocabulary list for example regarding contracts, or accounting, finance etc.
Believe it or not we still have these lists. Some of us who work as translators still base their work on these lists. Therefore, if you want to master your vocabulary compile your own vocabulary or wordlists and use them as a short reference. They will also allow you to track how much you’ve learned so far.
Check your level and start reading. Reading is still the receptive stage of language learning. Just don’t start with the wall street journal if you are still on A1-A2 level. It looks cool but it’s not helping. What should you read? Absolutely everything:
Articles, news, interviews, presentations, magazines. Remember to read in silence but also to read out loud. Remember to look up new vocabulary pieces in an online dictionary like pons.de or dict.cc and try researching the new grammar constructions that you find as well.
People quite often neglect the proper pronunciation. Because at school we concentrated on the notes and books we consider the written word as it’s main representation. While learning English it’s sometimes there sometimes it’s not. I suggest you start with the pronunciation of the word. Create the sound representation of the word in your head, after that proceed to the meaning and finally complete it with the spelling. In this way you acquire the word just like children do when they are learning their L1. Working on your pronunciation will improve your English in two significant ways. Your colleagues will understand you better (and they will be impressed by your pronunciation). If their understanding is better your conversations will become more dynamic.
Reading out loud.
Another forgotten learning-drill. In the early stage’s children are asked to read short and easy texts When learning L1 it develops and exercises the ability to read the texts. It also facilitates the correct pronunciation of the words.
Reading out loud in English has multiple advantages. It breaks through your language barrier. Some of us still experience the feeling of fear when talking English. We are worried about other people listening to us, we think about mistakes that we can make we are not sure if we are using the right construction.
By reading an English text out loud we work on a ready text which contains no errors and we can freely concentrate on the pronunciation. Furthermore, we get used to our voice in English. Those are just the two benefits of reading out loud.
Balance your training
Sometimes we go crazy on vocabulary, reading, speaking, listening etc. It’s cool to master one skill but not at the expense of others. When I started to acquire English, I developed extreme speaking and listening skills. The problem was I had absolutely no idea about grammar and spelling. Therefore, I needed a lot of time to start, practice and master these skills.
Morover if English is a requirement at work and you need fast progress balance in your training is exactly what you need. Balancing you training means that you don’t always do the same thing. Sometimes you have to work on grammar sometimes, on vocabulary. Adding a cool reading text to your training will also help. If you are looking for general improvement and you want to become a complete English speaker work on vocabular, listening, reading, writing and grammar, of course.
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