Many students often ask me, “What’s the best way to study English?” Though it may seem to be a simple question, the several facets of the English language make that question very difficult to answer. Speaking, listening, writing, and reading are four general topics that need to be mastered in order to achieve fluency in any language, and English is no exception. Being a second-language learner myself, there are certain study techniques that I employ that I would like to share.
Tip #1: Talk!
This may seem obvious, but if you want to improve your speaking, you have to talk! Make yourself available to any opportunity that will allow you to use what you have learned. For example, make friends from other cultures so that you are forced to use the language you both share: English. The biggest problem people have is leaving their comfort zone and opening up to possible embarrassment from making a mistake. However, mistakes are usually overlooked if you are making a genuine effort to improve your English. Trying to improve is always a very respectable quality.
Tip #2: Listen to something repeatedly.
When I was first learning a second language, I found some music in that language and I listened to it over and over again. I also found the lyrics and read or sang along with it. What I discovered was that with the repetition, I was also familiarizing myself with the pronunciation and the intonation of the language. This can easily be done with books on tape as well. Make sure to do this with a wide variety of media, and your listening will greatly improve.
Tip #3: Keep a journal.
Writing can be intimidating sometimes, but it doesn’t need to be. Many people might say, “I don’t know what to write about.” If you need a topic, the easiest thing to talk about is yourself. Practice writing a blog or a diary in English. You don’t have to show it to anyone, but get into the habit of writing in English. It becomes easier with practice. Then you can go back and read it, which is related to my last tip…
Tip #4: Read something you enjoy.
People have different interests, so if you already hate reading novels in your own language, reading a novel in English will not be any better. Start off easy, such as reading a magazine or a comic, and then move on to more advanced reading material. Even reading English subtitles for movies is good reading practice!
Learning a language is challenging, but that is what makes it fun. These are some of my own tips, but if these do not work for you, of course try out other methods too. The important thing is to find the best way of studying that works for you. Good luck, and happy studying!
facets (n.) – surfaces, sides, or parts of a whole
techniques (n.) – methods or ways of accomplishing something
employ (v.) – to use
comfort zone (n.) – being in a comfortable state of mind
opening up (v.) – to be accessible or available
genuine (adj.) – real, true
lyrics (n.) – words in a song
familiarizing (v.) – to get to know something, to understand
intonation (n.) – the pattern of sounds that express a certain meaning in a sentence
media (n.) – different ways of getting information such as through books, the internet, radio, etc.
intimidating (v.) – to scare
habit (n.) – something done often
advanced (adj.) – more difficult
methods (n.) – techniques or ways