November 27, 2009 By Angela Boothroyd
In order to lean English successfully, you need lots of motivation and you have to work hard. Here are a few tips to help you learn effectively
A good English teacher is vital for your success, and a good teacher will provide excellent lesson content and help you with homework, resources, and strategies for learning; however, most students can only manage one or two lessons a week and this on its own isn’t enough to enable you to make real progress over time.
If you have an hour’s lesson a week, and then don’t look at your books or your notes, or do your homework, or use the English you’ve been taught until your next lesson; you’ll make very little progress.
You have to be actively responsible for your own learning and there’s a lot you can do to help yourself learn English: here are some tips to help:
Before your English lessons:
Find a teacher you can get on with – most teachers are happy to have an informal chat about their lessons and how they can help you. Use this time to try and find out whether you and your potential teacher have a good rapport as this can be as important for your progress as having a well qualified and professional teacher.
Have very clear goals and agree these with your teacher. A good English teacher will assess your current level of English, find out about your previous language learning experience, discuss your needs regarding your English lessons, and agree on a course of English for you with clear aims and goals. Make sure you also understand how much your lessons will be, and how long they will last.
Plan your time. Work out when you can make the time for your language learning and create a schedule. Each week, work out when you are going to do your homework and any other activities that are going to help you learn and revise your English.
During your English Lessons:
Be organized and prepared – if you have a good dictionary that you like to use (and you should have), bring it to your lesson. Bring your folder, paper, pens, homework, unfinished work from your last lesson, and anything else you need.
It sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many students turn up for their lessons with none of these.
Listen carefully to your teacher, but don’t just sit and listen – ask lots of questions and, where you can; participate in dicussions, suggest answers and share your opinions.
Don’t be afraid to speak in English – it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes. Mistakes help you and your teacher to identify where you need to make improvements with your understanding, your pronunciation, your knowledge of grammar and your vocabulary.
Make notes – you will need to go over them after your lesson. They will help you remember what you have been taught, and to practise your English at home. Have a look at this post for some advice on making and keeping notes
After your English lessons: Write out your notes properly and file them. Make a note of anything you are not sure of and would like to ask your teacher about in your next lesson. Do your homework!
Between your English lessons In between your lessons you need to find as many ways as possible to practise and develop your English skills. There are many ways you can do this and here are a few suggestions:
- Watch TV and films in English – you can either watch for enjoyment and use it as an opportunity to test your understanding, or you can make notes of any unfamiliar words, and listen carefully to the speakers’ pronunciation, grammar etc.
- Listen to English language radio – you can listen to many radio programmes online, and some even have transcripts that you can read while you’re listening.
- Read English language newspapers and magazines – use your dictionary.
- Find some books or short stories written in English that are at a suitable level for you – these can be ebooks if you have access to the internet. Look up any unfamiliar words in your dictionary. If time is short, prop a book on the windowsill and read it while washing the dishes.
- Listen to audio books.
- Prepare a meal using a recipe written in English.
- Write a diary in English
- Write poetry, songs, shopping lists, letters, emails (find a pen pal), anything you can think of, in English.
- Keep a small notebook in your bag or pocket – write down any unfamiliar words you hear and then look them up later.
- Listen to music / songs in English – see if you can find the words and read along. Many CDs come with the song words included.
- Listen to tapes or CDs of English in the car, on the train, while doing housework, or at the gym.
- Stick labels around the home with the English words for your furniture and other objects
- Record yourself speaking English and listen to your pronunciation. How do you sound? How could you improve?
- Try teaching a friend what you’ve learned in your lessons.One of the best ways to really learn and understand something is to try and explain it to someone else
- It’s easier to learn English if you have a positive attitude towards the language, the country where it’s spoken and its people, so learn about the history and culture as well as the language.
- Enrol in ESL classes from online universities. You can also learn through these free English classes.
If you can, live in a country where English is spoken for a month or two (or longer) – or go on holiday and use every opportunity to use English.
If you have made an English speaking country your home use English at work, in the shops, wherever you can – don’t be afraid to use what you know and practise, practise, practise!
So, don’t forget: hard work, and lots of practise. Try and write, read, speak, and listen to English whenever you can. The more time you make to surround yourself with English, the quicker you will learn, and the quicker you will reach your goals.
Do you have any favourite tips for learning English?
You can find more free English lessons on my web site.
Image by krossbow