If you are reading this article you would probably like to be fluent in English, have a great pronunciation and feel confident when speaking. Maybe you have learnt English for several years, had no problems with reading and writing, understood variety of grammar rules... But when it comes to speaking, you are feeling stuck, unsure or worried about mistakes you can possibly make.
I can completely relate to your situation and have experienced the same feelings as you might have, because I am a non-native English learner as you are. :)
This article summarises the English learning approach I use personally to improve not just my English speaking, but my English in general. I hope you will find it useful too.
In everything we do motivation is something that drives us to take action. We are not doing anything unless we are pushed or pulled enough. So how to get ourselves to learn English?
- Try to answer for yourself the question Why am I learning English? Is it because of an adventurous travelling I am planning soon, or because I want to get a better job, or meet some new people? Or anything else? Pick some exciting reasons. Every time you are feeling that you are losing motivation or energy, try to remember your "why". :)
- Discover your interests - when learning English (reading, listening or watching some English materials), choose the topics based on your interests. If you love cooking, focus on reading blogs and TV shows about cooking, or prepare some meal with recipe In English every week.. :) If you are fan of racing cars - find sources about them.. And so on. What are my interests?
Exercise: It's worth putting your answers on paper. Getting the ideas out by writing can give you much more than thinking about them. Write down your answers to questions. :)
- Why am I learning English?
- What are my interests?
How are you feeling after doing this writing and thinking exercise?
2. Real-life English
Motivation itself is not enough of course. Depending on where you are from and what sources are available to you, immerse yourself into real-life English – I don't mean reading boring grammar books. We need to be exposed to the kind of English which is used in real everyday life. Here are some of the online sources I use to improve my English:
- Power English – this audio program has helped me so much with my speaking skills, especially with the fluency and being able to use English without thinking of what I am about to say. (see the full program review)
Learn Real English - learn to speak English from real natural conversations of American native speakers. The course will teach you loads of useful idioms and phrases you can use in your daily conversations.
- Learn English | British Council - many fun audio lessons, videos and podcasts with exercises and games where you can practice and improve language skills.
- Speak English With Misterduncan - youtube channel of a British English teacher - full of interesting videos on variety of topics. Videos have subtitles, which is great.
Exercise: Choose the learning material based on your preferences and interests and use it daily.
Now I would like to share with you several useful tips you can apply while learning English to make it even more effective and fun.
- Consistency - try to invest at least 1 hour a day in English learning - whether it is watching English movie, talking to a foreigner on Skype or reading an article online.
- Physical exercise - if possible, do a little bit of easy exercise before learning - it will make you energized, keep blood flowing and you will be more alert. You can also exercise while learning (listen to some English audio and exercise in the same time)
- Don't worry about mistakes - don't feel bad when you make a mistake. Mistakes are essential to our improvement. Realizing our mistakes means we are getting better already.
- When you watch something in English, try to have English subtitles on the screen, or have a transcript around. Sometimes we don't understand a word and when we can see how is it written we can check it out in the dictionary later.
- if you can, set English as a language on all of your electronic devices - phone, camera, car navigation... You can also learn some new phrases when you choose English language when withdrawing money from ATM. :)
- listen to the audio books by your interest - read the original copy while listening.
- Check out the Speech Shadowing technique.
- Travel - if you can, spend at least several months in an English-speaking country. It can be one of the best investments (not only) in your language learning.
Finally, we have to enjoy learning the language! When we don't like what we are doing it's always a struggle. If we are getting bored we need to find a way to get excited and motivated again. :)
There are many more tips coming to my mind but I want to keep this post neat as much as possible. Please do let me know how you like it by a comment or share it with your friends.
Thank you very much and enjoy English! :)