In a recent advanced English class at Bridge English in Denver, we asked our students, “What are the best ways to learn English outside of the classroom?” The responses were great! Last week we looked at what Tracy, Khalid, and Nelson had to say, this week we’re sharing Ammar, Shakre, and Stephanie’s response!
As a non-native English-speaker studying in United States, learning English is a big challenge. Understanding the main idea of a certain text, building sentences that are grammatically correct, getting rid of common speaking mistakes, and also how to stay focused while listening during the General English Program are all common challenges we face. If you are experiencing some of these challenges, I know how you feel, so stop biting your fingernails and see below for some tips about how to improve your English language skills.
One of the easiest ways to improve both your pronunciation and vocabulary is through reading. You can record yourself reading a short paragraph, and while listening you can focus your attention on the words you have difficulty pronouncing. Another way is that everyday you can read a short paragraph of text and with time make it more challenging by increasing the length of the passage you are reading. While reading, you need to pay attention to new vocabulary, use it in a sentence and look for grammatical variations of this word; for example, the verb to innovate. Innovation is the noun, innovative or innovated or innovating can be the adjectives. Watching English TV is also an excellent way to gain new vocabulary. At the beginning you can use subtitles so you can see which spoken words correspond to the words that display on the bottom of the screen. Then, you can begin listening without using the subtitles. The same idea applies to the music; find the lyrics of your favorite songs and then translate them by using a dictionary. Doing this will also improve your vocabulary.
Other English language skills you have to focus on, are your listening and your speaking skills. Learning how to listen to a conversation or an English program will help you in a great way. For example while listening to TV shows, radio or an English channel, write down all the information given. Start with a small lecture, about 3 or 5 minutes and when you will feel comfortable recording relevant information, you can increase the duration of the lecture. Like every thing else, in the beginning it will be difficult, but gradually you will improve your level of understanding; also pay attention to the spelling of words while writing them. In the case of your speaking, the best way to improve will be by making English-speaking friends that will help you become more confident in your speaking. By creating an English-speaking environment around yourself, you will learn English much faster than if you just focus on reading or listening, because you will actually practice your speaking. Don’t be ashamed the first time to make some mistakes, with time you will polish your language and your conversation will flow freely.
In conclusion, these ideas seem pretty easy, but trust me, you will need more practice in order to improve your English. A common mistake is to give up the first time you experience difficulty.
Don’t do that! Persevere!
I do believe you will succeed and reach your goal of speaking English. Not only will you, but your relatives will also notice your progress. Good Luck!