In our modern society, globalization and communication are key to progress. Language barriers should not be a problem for anyone anymore. Whether you are young or old, you must manage to have at least a basic conversation in English with somebody, regardless of your citizenship.
Because knowledge of the English language and grammar is already a necessity, here are some methods through which anyone could improve their speaking, listening, and writing skills.
Often times in life, the thing that determines if you are successful or not at something is having the appropriate mindset and attitude. You have to stop seeing yourself as a student of the English language, but rather as a speaker or user of it.
This is a small change — however, it has a powerful effect on boosting your confidence and thus it will indirectly help you speak English in a more efficient way.
Students who learn English only at school do so for a mere hour or two a week. This is not enough to improve their skills. If you want to make real progress, you must work every day and learn every day about every aspect of the English language.
Make a habit out of speaking, writing and listening and eventually, you will come to speak English fluently. This will lead to more information being learned, therefore your memory will improve, your vocabulary will grow and you will remember grammar rules a lot faster.
Get more out of listening
When listening to a native English-speaker, you are probably focusing only on understanding what the meaning of all the spoken words is, so that you can receive that message. Although this is most certainly crucial, there are a lot more things to be learned just from listening alone.
Concentrate on how the speaker says the words. First, observe which words are chosen in structuring the sentence and then listen to the accent. Word pronunciation and speaking inflection can say as much about the message as the words themselves. For example, if the speaker is sarcastic, he/she may prolong certain vowels (“Riiight..”, “Suure..”).
You can even tell how the speaker is feeling by the way the words are said. All sorts of emotions can be transmitted by the way a certain phrase is spoken. Sometimes you can tell if somebody is happy, sad, or furious just by hearing him/her speak and you do not even have to understand all the words.
Analyze the volume, how slow or fast the speaker is talking and how high the pitch is. Try to remember these details the next time you listen to a native speaker and your English will begin to sound more natural if you learn from their way of talking.
Start reading in English
The process of reading in another language takes some time to perfect. Linking written words with their meaning, especially when used in expressions can be a difficult mental exercise, particularly for beginners.
You could make use of the easy access to information we have today and read articles in English on the Internet, such as this one, or books. Beginners could start with books that have a lower reading difficulty, such as children’s books or even comics.
When reading comics, images will fill in the blanks if you do not understand all the words and do not know their meaning. When watching movies, turn on the English subtitles. If the audio track is in your native language, you will find it easy to associate spoken words with their translation in English.
Start writing in English
In order to become a more skillful writer, you have to be willing to learn and to be disciplined. You must be able to write words and sentences correctly by reproducing them after you hear them being spoken.
The key is to exercise writing as often as possible. The short essays that students write at school are most of the times not their own and rarely apply to real life situations. This is why you must engage in real topics of discussion.
Write comments in English. Again, using the Internet you can go on blogs or similar websites. Almost all of these sites have a comment section below. The readers or viewers express their opinions about the content found on that blog and start discussing with each other. This practice is good for you for two main reasons.
First of all, you are talking with real people and the conversation is real, based on a solid topic. Secondly, due to the fact that you are on the Internet, most likely the people with whom you are talking are not native English speakers. Thus, they will make mistakes as well, and you will not be judged for doing the same. Your confidence will be boosted and you’ll be encouraged to continue.
You can keep a little notebook where you may want to write down words and expressions you find interesting. Make sure to write their meaning as well, and also maybe some examples. If you see them in sentences or phrases you will remember them better in the future.
Thinking in English
The goal is to fluently speak English. If you make this effort, to think in English, you will see an improvement in your speaking skills after a while. You will notice it when you will stop consciously trying to translate words one at a time. Pauses will stop appearing in your speech and you will just say what is on your mind without thinking too much about it.
Another advantage of this method is that you gain more confidence. When you are thinking in English you are just one step away from talking in English.
Therefore when the need arises for you to speak, you just give voice to your already existing thoughts. This way, you don’t have to hesitate and think too much about how to pronounce certain words or about what words to use.
It’s okay to make mistakes
Everybody makes mistakes, even native speakers. You must not let this fear stop you from speaking or writing in English, because 9 out of 10 times people will still understand your message.
Don’t be afraid to be corrected, because if nobody hears/reads your mistakes, then nobody will tell you what you do wrong. If you learn from your errors, your English speaking skills will improve faster than you think.
All the above-mentioned methods and tips can be reduced to just one: practice! Whatever learning style you have, the most important thing is to practice. This is the only secret if you wish to master the English language.