TIPS FOR LEARNING ENGLISH
During my personal studying of languages (having been raised in a bilingual family, and enrolled at English classes in kinder-garden), as well as my six-year long experience of teaching English to kids, teens and adults, I’ve learned a lot about how to learn a language. And though there is no universal formula, and there is an abundance of strategies and realizations, I’ve picked some that are useful to most stages of the learning process.
If you ask me, learning a language is not an academic pursuit (though it is just as justified to put in the hours to pass a test; and oftentimes necessary for real-life situations, such as obtaining a visa), but a practical one. I want to be able to communicate. This will shape the way you approach the task (or joy!) of learning English. The first thing, therefore, is that the materials you cover are relevant to YOU! Which is why I recommend studying one-on-one or in a small group (and preferably with a native speaker). You will use the language much more actively, increase the amount of practice you get over a big group environment, and have the content relevant to your life, which will make it much easier to remember.
Numerous studies have shown that for reaching a level of fluency it is not so much the amount of hours per day, but the consistency of working daily on your English. The pace of today’s world (as well as the economic situation) makes it rather difficult to attend classes every day, but it is much more useful to have classes two or three times a week for 40 minutes to one hour, than only once a week for an hour and a half or two. By splitting sessions, you are more concentrated and focused, and the retention of the covered knowledge is much higher. Also, personal study time is essential. The recommended ratio is 2:1 (two hours of self-study time for every class hour); but doing ANYTHING on your own will yield much greater benefits, that not doing anything at all. DUH!
A great way to memorize new vocabulary items is to carry a dictionary (which fits your pocket..or hey, download an app!). You can look up any words you don’t know as soon as you encounter them, but it is important to link them to the place/object or scenario because this will concrete them in your mind. My favorite way has to be flashcards. It is so easy to check whether you have memorized an item, just by turning the little paper. You should return to them at intervals and see how long you can remember it for. Use a variety of ways – draw the words, explain and use them in a sentence, or if you REALLY need to – translate them.
Watch movies, listen to music, read whatever. I can’t stress enough how important it is to do what you LIKE. And doing it with other like-minded people will make it more enjoyable and easier to retain the knowledge. You will also have the benefit of receiving feedback, praise and correction (especially if this other person turn out to be your tutor) So, take your time (we all learn at a different pace); make mistakes – trying is the only way to get it right, and sometimes we remember these much better, and tell us your favorite tip for learning English!