According to the British Council, by 2020 over two billion people will be speaking or learning to speak English! The English language is quickly becoming the language of the world – so how can you really learn it? Here are five steps to becoming a proficient user of English.
1. Be a Motivated Learner
Why do you want to learn English? Do you have family members in an English-speaking country? Does your job require you to know English? Or maybe you like to watch English TV? How would learning English change your life?
Whatever your reason, write it down and look at it every day! If you remember why you want to learn English, it will keep you motivated and eager to learn. It will help you push through the difficult parts and succeed. You need to practice the things you are learning, consistently, every day if you want to become good at English. It takes time! Without a clear motivation, other things may happen to distract you from studying.
Unfortunately, learning a language isn’t like learning math or science. It isn’t a clear selection of facts that you can memorize. Language is very personal. It’s always growing and changing. Take the time to make English work for you and your needs and desires! Remember your motivation for learning, and you will succeed.
2. Immerse Yourself in English
There’s no question that the best way to learn a language is by immersion. When you are forced to listen and speak, day after day, you will learn your new language fast! And the good news is that you don’t have to move to another country to immerse yourself in English. With the Internet, everything you need is available with the click of a mouse.
Learning grammar rules is important, but it’s also important to expose yourself to English as much as you can. Passive listening can be a key part of your learning. Turn on an English audiobook, or stream an English movie while you do other things, like housework or driving. Even if you don’t understand every word, you will become familiar with the flow of English. You’ll hear words and phrases repeated, and in time they will become part of your vocabulary. The expressions and idioms so common in spoken English will begin to feel natural to you.
3. Get Lots of Help
With so many people around the world learning English, you can easily find exactly what you need to help you learn. Books, videos, and websites are just a few of the ways you can speed up your learning. Online teachers can make learning fun!
If you don’t know anyone who speaks English, find a conversation partner or two online. Sign up for lessons with a tutor. If you know someone who speaks English, ask them for help! Is your partner also learning English? Try hard each day to communicate with him or her in English, instead of your native language.
4. Practice, Practice, Practice!
Your path to English fluency will take a long time if all you do is study grammar books. Context matters! You need to hear English being used every day, and make it work for you. Learn the vocabulary that you need in your work or personal life. Use the new words in sentences. Listen for them on TV shows. Try web readers like ReadLang.com to see them used in many different ways.
Speak a little every day, even if you just know how to say hello, thank you, or have a nice day. Don’t wait until you feel comfortable with English before you begin using it! Never be afraid to make mistakes. When you make a mistake, it can be the quickest path to learning how to say it correctly and remembering it for next time.
Practice thinking in English. When you think in English, your brain will turn on and help you conjugate verbs, ask for new vocabulary, and tell you when something doesn’t sound quite right. Let your English thoughts propel you into more study, and more practice. Then, when it comes time to speak, it will be much easier and faster because you’ve trained your brain to think in English.
One of the most difficult things for English learners to master is writing. Try keeping a daily journal of new words and expressions you hear, and write sentences using these words.
5. Learn Proper Pronunciation
Let’s face it, the goal of learning a new language is communication! The desire of our hearts is to communicate with others and be understood. Different languages use different sounds, and English is no exception. If you become good at the sounds of English, your language learning will accelerate.
Before learning new vocabulary, or learning how to conjugate English verbs, be sure to train yourself in proper pronunciation! Learning it right the first time will save you the effort of re-learning it in the future.
Want to learn more about how to speak English fluently? You don’t need a classroom with a teacher and expensive textbooks to learn English! Check this post to discover the one thing you need to really learn English!