To learn English quickly, you have to work hard and smart. If you want to give yourself the best shot at high quality learning then you need to know the secrets of picking up the information at speed – and retaining it.
To kick-start the knowledge soaking process, here are 6 tips to help you maximize your learning experience.
1. Get stuck in!
Don’t hesitate, just speak! The more you sit there and think about it, the more difficult you’ll find it to speak. Make sure that every time you come across the opportunity to speak English you do – note the number of times you’re contributing in your English classes and try to double it the next time you go.
2. Don't apologise
Saying “I’m sorry but I don’t speak English” because you’re afraid of making mistakes is an absolute no-no. Remember that you’re learning and that means you’re allowed to make errors or form half-sentences at first. Instead of simply saying you don’t speak English and shutting the opportunity down try phrases such as “I’m sorry could you repeat that/speak slower/say it differently?” or “Could you explain that?” or “I’m English, could you say that again?” Turn the situation into another opportunity to practice.
3. And on that note… don’t be afraid of making mistakes!
Fear is a barrier to learning – and an unnecessary one at that. If you’re holding back because you’re afraid people will laugh at you, or you’ve got perfect grammar comprehension but you can’t actually have a conversation, then you’re simply slowing down your progress. Remember that absolutely everyone who has ever learned a language made mistakes, felt silly and thought they weren’t as good as others in the class. Mistakes and errors are just a process that you need to go through to learn – so if you’re going to be a great English speaker then you need to make plenty of them!
4. Don't give up
As with any new skill that you’re trying to learn there will be a period where it just feels like you’ll never get it. No one is born a natural English speaker when it’s not their first language but, like any skill, the more you practice and the longer you practice for, the better you will get. Think of yourself as an athlete in training – you need to put in the practice hours if you want to get over the line.
5. Don’t translate ‘word for word’
If you’re translating every single word that you hear into your native language then you’re really slowing your progress down. Instead, hone in on the words that you do understand and use all the contextual clues happening in the conversation, from gestures and facial expressions, through to any images or actions that are taking place at the same time.
6. Listen to everything!
If you listen only in the context of strict grammar structures or words on their own then you’ll find it harder to progress. It’s far better to learn to understand phrases, as this is what will give you fluency. You can do this by listening to English films, TV, audiobooks and radio – you’ll be able to pick up on understanding actual English rather than book learning.