English is the most popular language in the world and rightly called lingua franca. In today’s world if you want to speak with another person on the other side of the world no matter what language they speak then most likely you can speak with them in English language. Most people want to learn English to travel , to participate in business meetings etc. The question i get often asked from people is how to learn English and where to start. Here is a guide which will suggest to you how can you start learning English
Tips on how to learn English
Find you Why factor
The first thing you should do when planning to learn English language is to find your “Why”. You should ask yourself questions like
- Why should I learn English and what I aim to achieve by it.
- What’s my motivation behind learning English and will it be alignment with my goals.
Once you have an answer to these two questions. Your next task should be to carry an appraisal of your English language ability.
Carry an initial assessment of your English language ability
Once you have made the decision that English is the language you want to learn. Your next step should be to carry an initial assessment of your language skills. carrying assessment doesn’t mean that you have to sit in 3 hour exam as used to be in your school or college days.
Google has made life lot easier there days. There are literally hundreds of free assessment quizzes available online which can give you a good idea of your proficiency in English grammar, vocabulary, speaking and listening skills atleast at the very basic level.
If you think doing quizzes online is not your piece of cake, then a very simple solution is to pick up an English passage from book , news paper or magazine and carry assesment of your reading and vocabulary skills..Take this post an example just see how easily you can read this post and how many words you can understand. If you can read this post easily it is a proof that you have a good basic command of English language and so you need to look for a course that is at an advanced level. If you are finding this article difficult to read. Try something easier and if you find that struggling then you might be better off searching for basic online english course.
You can also assess your listening skills in similar manner. You can listen to some youtube videos online or watch few English programmes to get an idea of your English listening skills. Similarly you can asses your speaking skills by speaking to friend or a partner and asking them to give you an honest review. Once you have done your initial assesment the next step is to set yourself a goal.
Your next step is to set up your language goal. A good strategy would be to take all four key areas of listening , reading , writing and speaking together. However if you think that you already are better at one of the key areas then you should plan such so as to give more time to one of the key area requiring more attention.
Your goal could be i would like to improve my English listening skills, so I i don’t have problem understanding English TV and music. On the other hand a non native English student trying to gain admission in university for a doctorate degree. His priority might not be to have advance listening or speaking skills but to have exceptional written skills so as to write his academic thesis in the best possible manner.
I’m not saying at all that all four key skills are not important. In fact all these components are so important that initially recognised tests like IELTS and TOEFL assess you on all four skills. What I am pointing out is that sometimes one of the key areas require more attention that other depending on your goal. This is where setting your goal and deciding“why” factor has vital role to play and they shouldn’t be neglected.
Let’s have a look at all our key skills in English language and how can we work to improve it further
How to learn English writing skills
When it comes to practice writing, write freely. Think of a topic and start writing on it. Don’t bother what you are writing makes any sense or not. If your spellings are good and you know where to put punctuation excellent. If you are unsure about something. Don’t stop over to check. Keep writing. Once you have put all the thoughts on paper on your chosen topic.
Relax , give a little pause and then come back to what you have written. This is here you can check whether it’s making sense or not. It is here if you are doubtful about the spelling check them now. You can always use dictionary to check spellings. Read an article or post about punctuations and where to use them, if you are having issues with it. Once you will do it few times they’ll all come handy. Try to keep your sentences short. They are easy for readers to reader and also in the beginning it will be easy for you. Don’t try to stuff words with vocabulary of which you are not sure. Try it for simple sentences and gradually as it will improve you’ll be able to make complex sentences. Keep writing regularly and you’ll see significant improvement in your writing skills in short period of time.
How to improve English Listening skills
There are many non English countries, where a big chunk of students get chance to learn English at their school. Surprisingly though majority of students from these countries have exceptional writing and reading skills, but most of these students struggle with speaking skills and especially listening skills. The reason being that English though is taught in their school but in their daily lives they don’t get chance to speak it much either at home or in their social circle. Unlike the kids growing up in English speaking world They don’t speaking English at home and listen to English music or watch English movies or programmes regularly.
Students with weak listening skills have following issues in common.
- They find it difficult to understand native English speakers
- They find difficulty in understanding English movies and TV
- They find it really difficult to understand English music
Here are few of the things you can do . to improve your English listening skills
Watch English TV and programmes
Listening to English programmes and watching some of the popular British English or American Tv serials would help familiarise your ears with d daily English spoken by native speakers. subscribing to channels like Netflix and amazon prime can also be of help. I would strongly recommend turning off captions as this will help you concentrate effort on listening English instead of reading it. Another good idea would be slow down speed if video. You Tube has an option to do this and most of TV available these days provide option to vary the speed of video which can be of great help
Make it routine to listen for 20 minutes every day
Make it a routine to listen to English at least 20 minutes everyday and it should be over along period of time. You can’t just listen couple of weeks and feel significant improvement. If you listen over a period of time continuously it’s almost guaranteed your English language will improve drastically.
Keep Pen and paper and notice new words you come across
Another good idea is to keep a pen and paper with you and note the new words you come across. Look up for them in the dictionary. The next time you’ll come across you’ll recognise them quickly.
Listen carefully to pronunciation
Focus on the way words are pronounced and how they come out of speaker mouth. This will not help only your listening but speaking skills and you’ll know how to pronounce words correctly when speaking.
Make it a routine to Listen to radio while travelling to and from work can be of great help.
Do it consistently and over a long period of time
It is important that you fit it properly in your routine. You are not going to learning English by practising 2 or 3 times. Learning English like anything involves continuous commitment and effort.
- Listen English programmes or radio with concentration at least 15 to 20 minutes every day
- Try to watch a couple of English movies a week
- Try listening to English music, A good idea would be to put it on when travelling and in this way you familiarise your ears and improve your English speaking skills
How to Improve Reading skills
Read a chapter everyday
As suggesting in listening section try to read a chapter every day or atleast couple of pages. Keep a highlighter with you and highlight the words that you feel are important.
Keep a journal and use English dictionary
Another important thing is that use an English to English dictionary. Try to avoid dictionaries with translation. Whatever you read make a journal and record all the new words you come across. Reread the chapter again next day and see how much of the words you can understand which you learnt previous day. Don’t worry there will always be some word that will take time to get their place. Come back another week and go through the chapter again and you’ll feel real progress in what you are learning.
How to learn English speaking
An important thing to learn language is to stop hesitating that how will people react to the way you speak their language. Just always have this in mind that you are trying to learn a language and atleast you can speak. How many people out there can speak your language. Keep your chin up and keep speaking.you’ll be surprised to see that how many people will be happy to see your language skills.
Choose a topic that interests you
If you are practicing English at home or with friend. Choose a topic that interest you.if you are really into hiking or football then start talking on these topics. A good idea would be to jot down the points first on paper in points and then start speaking.if it’s topic of your interest then you’ll naturally find words coming out of your mouth.
Speak with no hesitation as said earlier.one of the biggest mistakes learner of English language make is to get worried about whether there sentences are correct and they are making act grammatical errors or not. Don’t worry about these things in beginning just speak as much you like at first and once you start getting your language fluency right then you can consider these things.
Record your conversation
Record your conversation and once you have finished speaking. Go back to it and listen carefully. This will help you figure out mistakes you were making.whether you were pronouncing words right and get chance looking into your grammar. You can take guidance from a English teacher to check your grammar.
Listen and Repeat
Watch English movies, programmes. Listen to them carefully and mimic the way they are speaking English. Follow their tone, speed. If you are watching you tube videos. You can easily vary its speed.
speakeazi.com takes real life conversations between native speakers with option of varying down the speed so you can adjust it according to your pace. The advance speech recognition technology helps you to get feedback on your speaking skills , your pronunciation and accent.