Tip #1 – Work English into your Daily Routine
The first thing you will need to figure out before you get started is how you can expose yourself to English on a regular basis. The best way to do this is to think about your daily routine.
- Do you listen to music throughout the day?
- Do you have a long commute?
- Do you spend time in front of the television?
If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, then it will be easy to incorporate English into your daily routine. Schedule at least two hours per day to practice English. Don’t do it all at once though! You will find that it would be hard to keep up concentration for two hours! Studies have shown that your mind is best utilized with a study period no longer than 45 minutes. Figure out how you can incorporate this type of study structure throughout the course of your day.
Tip #2 – See What English Resources are Available
Once you have this outlined, a good place to start is to look at your local resources to see what is available to you. Do you have an English television station that you can listen to? Or, is there a radio station solely in English? Even though you may not understand the words at first, you will start to understand the tone, intonation, and pronunciation.
Even if there is no English-only radio, some stations feature songs in English. This is also an important resource that cannot be emphasized enough! As you hear the songs throughout the day, more than likely you will begin to recognize the repeated songs. As you listen to the same songs, you will be able to dissect the words and language. You will find that this is one of the easier ways to memorize vocabulary. Sing along. Try to match the singer’s voice. Then, check the lyrics of the song and translate it into your native tongue. Do you see how the structure lines up?
If you are unable to find a local radio or television station, then you may want to consider podcasts and downloadable music. With such a wealth of English resources, you have access to various media either through your computer or perhaps even your phone or mp3 player. Take the time to load up your device with English music, audio books, and other talk shows. Throughout the day when you have some downtime, you can easily turn it on to listen and follow along. You will notice that as you continue to study English, you will understand conversations easier and you will be able to mark your progress.
Tip #3 – Grab a Notebook and Start Learning New Vocabulary
Now that you have exposure to English, you will start building a vocabulary. You will want to invest in a handy notebook that you can travel with. The notebook should be a medium-size notebook that you will be able to divide into two halves: English word and the corresponding word into your native tongue. This will enable you to:
- Review the words and then easily test your memory by covering up either side of the page and recalling either the English word or your native definition
- Keep track of the words you know
- Gives you another way to interact with the word
People learn in various ways, if you are the type of person who learns by doing then this will be a helpful act. By writing down the word and definition, this will help you visualize the word by using a hands-on approach.
By keeping your notebook, you can easily review your newly learned words every day. Then, at the end of the week, test yourself simply by scrambling the words on another sheet of paper to find the appropriate word. This will make sure you are learning the word – not the order on the paper! You can also go one step further and create flash cards to test yourself throughout the day.
Tip #4 – Get Comfy with a New Book (in English!)
Next, you will need to start reading books. Depending on your level, you may want to start with basic level English books that are at your level. Don’t just read the books with your eyes, but say the words out loud. Speak each word with clarity as you will work on various skills including comprehension, vocabulary, and pronunciation. This will get you use to speaking and using the words fluently. When you get to a word you do not know – write it down in your notebook! The exposure by reading and speaking is critical to your growth as an English speaker. You will notice that as you continue to do it, your vocabulary will increase, you will write fewer and fewer words down, and your ease of reading will become more fluid. As you read, be sure you understand the meaning and structure of the phrases. You can do this with novels, magazines, newspapers. Changing the type of text will also develop your abilities. An informative article in a newspaper will be written differently than in a fiction novel. Notice the subtleties and see if you can pick out any differences in style.
Tip #5 – Get Help from a Teacher or a Book
At this point you will need to have assistance in understanding how to structure and form grammatically correct sentences. Some individuals will learn at an institute, others may learn as part of a school curriculum, while other may do self study. If you can afford it, many people like one-on-one tutoring as you can find the help you need geared at the level and speed best for you. No matter how you do it, be sure that you are learning proper form so that all of your outside study further reinforces the structures you are learning outside of your class. You will also find good online English resources that will test different grammatical structures and you can also use audio tapes that will help you memorize phrases and sentences. Textbooks may also be helpful to guide you through the process and to provide you with exercises that you can practice on your down time.
Tip #6 – Plan a Vacation
Do you have a vacation coming up – or perhaps some free time? There is nothing like immersion in an English-speaking country that will help you pick up the language. If you have the time and ability, you may want to travel to the country and perhaps take a few classes. This will equip you with the skills necessary to navigate and interact with the local people. Did you think that ordering food would be so difficult? What about getting directions? This is by far the most rewarding experience – you will begin to realize that all that learning has paid off and you will pick up even more words along with way as you use English in real-life situations.
Tip #7 – Look for Language Exchanges
Now of course we understand that traveling can be difficult to do for many reasons. So if traveling is something that you’ll have to put off, you may want to look toward your local community for help. In some cases, there may be groups that meet regularly that have a language exchange program with native speakers. You may also find that your town has a large tourist population that may speak English. Reach out to the community, volunteer your time, and interact! At first it may be overwhelming, but you will find that your English will improve in no time! Even if you are unable to find English speakers in your community, don’t forget that the internet can be a part of your community as well! There are many internet websites designed to connect individuals looking for a language exchange. This exposure will not only be great for your language skills – but you will also make a friend and learn more about the culture!
Tip #8 – Set Goals and Evaluate Regularly
Always focus on your goals! Learning a language can be a difficult task primarily because it is broad. Break it down into sections so that you focus on one area at a time. Once you have broken it down into sections, you will be able to master the area and focus on one thing at a time. If you do this, it would be much more attainable as well – and perhaps even less overwhelming! Just be sure to incorporate reviews every couple of weeks to make sure that you continue to use the information you have already learned. Every month you may want to review your progress and goals and reevaluate and change your targeted goals. By doing this, you will learn quickly and spend your time in a focused manner. As you work, you will near closer to your larger goal of being an English pro.
Tip #9 – Keep it Fun and Interesting!
Have fun and keep it interesting! It’s like exercise. If you do the same thing every day it will start to get boring. Don’t do that! Change up your style of learning to keep it interesting. Follow a TV series that you enjoy. Interact with people from all over the world using your newly acquired English. As you learn English, you will find that you will be able to communicate, understand, and learn in a whole other way!