Studying a new language is difficult! Every person’s journey to becoming a fluent English speaker is different. There can be a lot of hurdles to overcome, such as your learning style, your environment, and your mother tongue’s alphabet.
If you are finding it difficult to learn English or have plateaued at a certain level, we are here to help! Follow these simple, but effective steps and we are sure that you will be able to make great strides in your English language skills!
1. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes
What most people find difficult is speaking out loud to native English speakers. We feel a little embarrassed and would hate to make a funny mistake! A lot of the English language consists of words that sound very alike, and a mispronunciation can end up sounding like something completely different.
The bones of it are that native English speakers will know what you are trying to say. Some may correct you to help and some may ignore it and take what you meant to say and answer it. Either way, just as you would if a non-native speaker was talking to you in Spanish or your mother tongue, we are happy that you are trying and happy to help!
A lot of English speakers will be too polite to correct you, so if you are learning English and spend a lot of time with a colleague or friend who is English speaking, why not ask them upfront to correct you if you make a mistake. Once you know the errors, you can correct them!
The same goes for your writing skills and spelling. Don’t be afraid to mix up “ph” and “f” or mix up “his” and “her”. It’s ok to make mistakes! If you are working a lot in English, a great App is Grammarly which will underline any mistakes you have. Unlike the basic Microsoft or google correctors, Grammarly spots feminine vs masculine, and sentence structures. This is used widely within the English-speaking community, so you will need a good understanding of English to make the choice to change the suggestion. After all, it’s still only a bot.
2. Don’t put off questions until later
When you are in a certain situation and feel like now isn’t the right time for an English lesson, you are wrong. It’s always a great time! It will only take one minute out of your day to ask the question to your colleague or friends and trust us, they will more than happy to help! When you stumble or forget a word, try not to sidestep it, but ask “what is that word again?” or “how do I say that correctly?”.
“Don’t put off questions until later” has a double meaning. We would always suggest that you do not skip the hard homework questions and tell yourself you’ll finish it tomorrow. You’ll often receive homework from English teachers to practice during the week. This is because frequent practice is the best practice. Taking on private language studies into your week has to be juggled with home life, work-life and social life. If you leave those questions unanswered, you won’t get back to it. Try your best to give a good attempt. If you are really struggling with just one question, that’s ok! Your teacher will help you in your next class.
All in all, answering those tough questions is best done right away. This will help you think and push your language limits to the next stage. There is no point in only doing questions you know or skipping past conversations you can’t understand. You’ll never add to your vocabulary. Asking and answering questions while it’s fresh in your mind is the best route to take.
3. Find your learning style
Finding your learning style is one of the most important things that you can do. We suggest that you try and do this at an early stage. This way your language skills will grow at a fast and effective rate from the beginning. If you need to use a few study methods to see which one works best for you, that’s ok. However, try them all out and see what works best for you. It would be very annoying to you if you studied meticulously one way up to a B1 level that took you a year to do to find out at this stage another method works better.
Most people find that the same learning style works well for them in all subjects, so a good place to start is to think back to how you studied better in school, and try this out first. There are seven main learning styles that you can choose from:
- Visual (spatial) Learner
- Aural (auditory) Learner
- Verbal (linguistic) Learner
- Physical (kinesthetic) Learner
- Logical (mathematical) Learner
- Social (interpersonal) Learner
- Solitary (intrapersonal) Learner
Chances are one or even a few of these will suit you. We will go into these different styles in an upcoming blog and give you some examples of how you can implement these into learning English.
4. Use what you know as soon as possible
You’ll hear your teacher often tell you that “Repetition is key” and to “Practice, Practice, Practice”. They could not be more right. As is with most classes, your teacher will only see you for 30 minutes or an hour a week. With this limited time, they need you to put in the work as well. This means putting your new vocabulary and any new skills learned into action.
After your class and before the next, try to find the opportunity to use your new skills. This may be writing an email to an overseas colleague or calling an international customer care service to practice your phone skills or simply practicing in front of the mirror. Whatever you decide to do, always remember that repetition is key!
Why is this so important? Well, repetition is a key learning aid because it helps transition a skill from the conscious to the subconscious. Through repetition, a skill is practiced and rehearsed over time and gradually becomes easier.
5. Study little and often
Each time we meet new students, we hear the same thing. Many students get frustrated that they cannot learn all of English in one day. They want to know it NOW, and all of it. I tell them that Rome wasn’t built in a day! Big things take time, learning a new language and creating new connections in the brain take time. You will not be able to learn a language in one day. There is one simple technique that works. And that is, begin with small steps and just keep going.
We can compare this to dieting. Yes, you can lose a lot of weight in one week by fasting, but you will eventually put it back on. Want the weight to come off and stay off? Slow and steady wins the race!
The amount of time you put into learning English well depends on the amount of spare time you have. You may want to only choose one or two days a week, but we do suggest a little time each day is the most effective way (even if just practicing in the mirror each morning). Don’t try and learn too much vocabulary at once as you will not remember all of them. Take it one topic at a time and learn it 100%, rather than learning 3 or 4 topics to 30%.
And we leave the most fun one for last! Traveling is amazing for so many things, like meeting new people, experiencing new cultures and seeing the wonder of the world! Many overlook this, but traveling is also really educational. When you travel abroad to a place that doesn’t speak your language, you’ll have no choice but to practice your newly learned language.
The great thing is that you don’t need to travel far and travel to a country you have no interest in, because English is used as a common language between different countries. Most restaurant, hotel, and airport staff all over the world speak English as a second language. What’s great about this is that, unlike English-speaking locals, they will speak slowly and properly, and are easily understandable.
So that’s right! We are sending you off to go on holiday as a homework assignment! How lucky?
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog! Let us know if you’d like to join our list to receive our informative, free English learning blogs first. You can let us know by DMing us on social media or signing up for our newsletter at www.everywhereenglish.eu.