Ten Tips for Learning English as a Second Language

1. Wanting to learn.

This may seem obvious, but if you’re not really committed to learn a new language, no class and no book in the world will be able to help you. You have to really want to learn the language otherwise it’s just too difficult. Just be honest with yourself, think about the reasons you want to study English and find your motivation.

2. Identifying your motivation.

After you find your motivation, you need to identify it. Ask yourself “Why do I want to improve my English”? Is it to find a new/better job? To be promoted in your current job? Is it to travel around the world? To go to University? Considering living abroad? Make new friends? Watching a movie without the need for subtitles? There are many reasons to learn English and each person is different. If you think about your motivation and think how improving your English will help you to achieve your goals, it will be easier to stick to the task.

3. Setting your goals.

Once you have identified your motivation, you need to set up your goals to learn English. Those goals will help you to understand which areas you want to work on, see your progress and maintain your motivation.
It’s important to visualize your main goal, but it’s also important to set up small goals along the way that will motivate and encourage you to keep going. Learning a new language is a process.

4. Practice makes perfect.

After you have set your goals, you know what you’ll need to practice. Now you need to focus on what needs to be done in order to achieve those goals and do it the correct way. You should understand yourself and how you learn better. For example, do you learn better by reading, doing, seeing or listening? Set time aside for study so you don’t have any excuses not to do it. Make sure to practice areas such as basic grammar, pronunciation and other aspects of the English language.

You should practice at least 5 days a week in order to see any progress. We say “Practice makes perfect, but only if it is the perfect practice”. This means not only practice the right way but having consistency. The more you practice, the better you become at it. For example, at SGI you can practice with other students as well.

5. Expose yourself to English as much as possible.

The more you surround yourself with English the more you get used to it and the easier it will be to learn the language. Read books or magazines in English, listen to the radio in English (Windows Media Player has hundreds of radio stations in English), watch TV or movies without lyrics, speak to native English speakers. You will start to recognise sounds, words and phrases and it will become more familiar. Soon you’ll start thinking in English as well! Constructing the sentence in English in your head first is a good way to make fewer mistakes.

6. Increasing your vocabulary.

Reading is an excellent way of increasing your vocabulary. You don’t need to read the Oxford dictionary from the beginning until the end, but consider reading everything you possibly can in English. You’ll learn new words.

Note: If you are a beginner, you may want to start off with a bilingual dictionary but once you are past the beginner stage of learning English as a second language, give it to a friend who is a beginner and get yourself a dictionary that is English-English.

7. Having fun.

Why not? Learning a new language can be a fun thing to do. And the more you enjoy it, the easier it will be. Read comic books, play a game with a friend who is also learning English as a second language. At SGI for example, we have lots of fun social activities like boat trips, visits to museums, quizzes, etc, where we have lots of fun while also helping our students to improve their English.

8. Cultivate friendships with native English speakers.

At SGI there are lots of opportunities to make friendships with other English students, but you can also do it in many other ways. The Internet for example is a wonderful way of meeting people that, like you, are learning English as a second language. Search for learning English groups and communities and find a learning buddy. You can also join the SGI Facebook group: http://en-gb.facebook.com/people/St-George/752643014

9. Finding a good teacher.

Using a qualified teacher that understands English is a step in the right direction. A teacher can set you goals and timelines for learning.

10. Acknowledge the progress you've made.

If you follow these tips, your English will definitely improve. Remember, be patient….progress comes slowly but surely. Stopping at key stages and acknowledging your improvement is important to keep you motivated and also to celebrate your accomplishment. Sooner or later you will reach your goal!

Learning a new language is a skill that needs constant use. After you learn English and finish your course, you’ll need to continue to practice it otherwise you might lose it. Another language helps you understand the world, different cultures and different perceptions of life. 

SOURCE: St. George International (SGI)


Roberts said...

I'd like to comment on the 6th tip in your list - about using English-English dictionary. This one is really important and kudos to your for putting it on the list! Very few English improving and learning websites and blogs on the Internet acknowledge the importance of learning English through English even though it can make a big difference!

For years I was NOT doing it - I used to learn all new English words through my native language. As a result I couldn't use the biggest part of the vocabulary in live conversations because it was acquired through my native language and I just couldn't get rid of the translation process in my head. Once I stopped doing it my English fluency started improving at a much higher pace and I really believe learning English through English is the only way to gain real English fluency!



Jade Graham said...

It may just help you feel happier. Language is life! Connect your language to what you love about life and you will feel great learning English. You may even love learning English!
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