How to Learn English: We Share Our 7 Techniques to Achieve Fluency
Don't write in English, they said, English is Not your mother-tongue. Why not leave Me alone, critics, friends, visiting cousins, Every one of you? Why not let me speak in
Any language I like? The language I speak, Becomes mine, its distortions, its queernesses All mine, mine alone. “Don't write in English, they said, English is not your mother tongue. Why don't critics, friends, visiting cousins, each one of you leave me alone ? Why can't they let me speak in whatever language I like? The language I speak becomes my own, its distortions, oddities all mine, only mine. "
The lines are from one of my favorite poets, Kamala Das , and they talk about why she chose to write mostly in English rather than her mother tongue or one of all the other languages she could speak. I have also been asked the same question. I also choose to speak and write mostly in English even though I am not a native speaker. And in this article I will tell you my story. I will answer the question about how to learn English with practical and specific steps that you can take . The goal is not for you to become an English language writer, but these tips can give you confidence when communicating in English and even instill a love for the process of learning a language.
Why did I choose to learn English?
Without many laps: I did not have (much) option. My country, India, was a British colony for almost 200 years. When it became independent in 1947, many of the institutional structures that the British government had created were maintained and continue today. These include institutes like mine, in which English was the language of instruction. Going to a private, English-speaking institute was expensive and seen as an indicator of privilege, rather than going to a public institute where regional languages were taught. Studying in an English-speaking institute did not mean that you believed that other languages were inferior ( of course they are not , apart from the fact that colonialism did try to transmit that feeling to the natives) but it was a strategic option to ensure you had more. opportunities in the future.
And since more than a billion people speak English and it is the language of international business and communication, it is a very practical decision, whether you study English in high school or on your own at home. As I will mention below, my institute had strict rules that involved speaking only in English, except in specific classes or circumstances. Over the years, I became more comfortable expressing myself in the language. My love of writing stories and reading books led me to take English literature classes at the University. At the same time, I decided to share what I learned from being a volunteer English tutor for underprivileged children.
When teaching children from different backgrounds, I realized something very important: knowing a language opens up a whole universe to be explored and lived. And, the more languages you know, the better. But, yes, it's true, English is one of the easiest and most practical languages to study , and knowing it well has a good number of benefits.
How to learn English? My story in 7 practical steps you can follow
I am going to talk about my high school days, about the various ways my parents and teachers instilled in me a love of learning, and how you can use or modify these techniques so that you learn English at your own pace .
Go for it!
1. Establish partnerships between English and my native language
As I said earlier, my institute had strict rules stating that English could only be spoken during classes. This meant that although I could speak three languages (my native language, Bengali, the national language, Hindi and, of course, English), in high school I spoke English. I took advantage of the landscape presented to me by using the vocabulary of Bengali and Hindi as tools to learn English. I learned a lot of English vocabulary by looking for the equivalents of the words and phrases that I used constantly in Bengali and Hindi.
You can do the same and look for the English equivalents of the most common and most used words in your native language and vice versa. This will make the English vocabulary more meaningful and easier to remember. In addition, you can practice translating between languages so you can express yourself in any situation. Knowing more than one language also helped me see the same things from various perspectives and encouraged me to be open-minded and curious about the diversity of this world. Intercultural communication becomes increasingly important and the more languages you can speak fluently, the better.
If you are proficient in two or more languages, remember that you can provide translation and transcription services as a way of life!
2. Make as many mistakes as I could (with compassionate English teachers)
I was lucky to have teachers who encouraged us to make mistakes. We participated in elocution competitions, debates, group discussions, and class presentations in a safe and nurturing environment. Our initial attempts to speak in front of the class did not go as planned, but gradually we got the hang of it. What's more, our teachers were there to guide us where things went wrong. They helped us choose the right word for any particular context, allowed us to freely participate and ask questions, and corrected us when we mispronounced a word.
In other words, we made hundreds of mistakes while trying to learn, and those mistakes became a crucial part of our learning process . Getting wrong didn't embarrass or punish us, and we always got points for trying because practice is the most important way to achieve fluency. If you plan to learn English you should keep this attitude in mind. Prepare to fail and make a lot of mistakes in the beginning.
Learning on your own is great, but if possible, find a language teacher or tutor. If you don't have options in your city, you can easily find one online . Teachers can identify and correct your mistakes much faster than you would on your own. Direct feedback during the learning process is very important and face-to-face interactions will help you learn faster. And, if you already participate in a class or study group, make the most of it by being part of every conversation that occurs and interacting with everyone. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Both your language skills and your social skills will dramatically improve once you let go of all inhibitions and immerse yourself in learning.
3. Invest in a good dictionary
When I read a book I used to find words that I did not understand and I would ask my father to explain them to me. Sometimes he did, but he also encouraged me to consult an English dictionary. He told me it was the most important book we had in the house. I had a pretty battered Chambers dictionary and it showed me how words were arranged alphabetically and how to look up a word so I could read its meaning. He explained that a dictionary is not limited to explaining the meaning of words, but also has pronunciation guides, the origin of words, synonyms (words with similar meanings), antonyms (words with opposite meanings), examples of sentences and other extra information.
There is so much to learn in a dictionary!
That is why investing in a good dictionary is one of the most practical and beneficial steps you can take to improve your English . I suggest you have one handy and also a digital version on your phone for quick inquiries. Turn to him every time you come across a word you don't know. You can also use it to expand your vocabulary. Choose a letter at random and learn a word or open any page and choose a word that catches your attention. You can even think of fun exercises. Pick five words at random and try to write a story or poem using them. Don't try to write something perfect, but put the words on paper and write logical and grammatically correct sentences.
4. Find fun ways to study
In high school we learned grammar and the fundamentals of the language but learning is not limited to that. We watched moving walk to study a text, we had many tests, we played games with classmates, and we completed hundreds of fun exercises and activities. An innovative and creative approach is essential when learning a language. The constant routine of studying grammar or writing essays does not work for everyone. We should all divide the tasks when studying a difficult subject like English because, if not, we will get bored and we will quit.
Today, most teachers use some kind of audiovisual material in the classroom. Learning something new in the form of a game has proven to have wonderful effects . As an independent student, it is something easy to do thanks to all the learning tools available. To get started, play games on your own or study with classmates. Get in the habit of solving crosswords in English or having a Scrabble session with your family each week. There are also some word games that you can watch to get ideas.
Look for YouTube channels that cover areas that interest you. For example, if you like to cook, follow a cook who speaks in English and the next time you look for a recipe for a cake, you will learn a few words in English. Do you want to make sure you understand any video in English? FluentU takes authentic English videos, such as movie trailers , music videos, inspirational talks and more, and transforms them into personalized language classes.
Each video has interactive subtitles. Hover over any word and the video will automatically stop to show you a definition, an image and its pronunciation. Once you're done watching, you'll find fun flashcards and exercises to make sure you remember everything. It is a very fun way to learn English that native speakers actually use.
The videos are organized by genre and level so finding the ones you want will be easy. You can start at the beginner level and follow the FluentU journey to fluency. Best of all, you can practice anywhere with the FluentU app for iOS or the FluentU app for Android .
5. Write and act out stories in English
When I was a child, one of my favorite games was pretending to be other people and talking to my imaginary friends. During the holidays, my friends and I took turns recreating roles (acting out a specific scene) of our favorite fictional characters. Later I discovered role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and group writing. In the same way, and like many, some of my favorite memories of my childhood have to do with my parents reading me stories before I go to sleep.
My love of stories helped me write and narrate my own. This stimulated my imagination and also prepared me for presentations and interviews. When I teach children, I often encourage them to talk about themselves and the things they like. They are always happy for an adult to listen to their points of view. And they get even happier when they can be as dramatic and emphatic (expressive) as they want.
Storytelling and language learning may seem like totally different things but they are not. In order to be fluent in any language, you have to be able to express yourself and communicate effectively. So try writing your own stories in English and even acting out and recreating them. Create an online or in-person study group and meet regularly to recreate your stories in English.
Perhaps you can even create a character who is the confident and charismatic speaker that you would like to be and practice in front of the mirror. Take advantage of team activities. You might consider joining a local theater group to develop your body language and expressiveness.
6. Read what I liked in English
I always loved learning and exploring on my own. I would often read chapters before we saw them in class and I liked to read more to get a broader perspective of the course. During my high school years, when I began to focus on my writing seriously, I would read books on academic and creative writing techniques and vocabulary building books like "30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary."
Similarly, my love of reading helped me naturally acquire vocabulary and build better sentences . As for fictional dialogue, she could understand the finer nuances of English conversation. And, by reading nonfiction literature, I learned a lot of facts and figures and to use them properly in English. Of course, not everyone is such a bookworm as I am. But finding material in English that you like to read is easy and will improve your comprehension skills in a pleasant way.
For example, it is not necessary to start with long novels. Try funny comics or books !
You can also think about reading children's books in English to start. If you want something short but more mature, consider these simple short stories in English. Whether you are a beginning or advanced English speaker, finding interactive reading material is not difficult. Many educational websites offer comprehension activities that you can read and practice for free. Remember, if you can get into the habit of reading, it will be a benefit to all aspects of your life.
7. Immerse yourself in English
What I've learned over the years is this: if you really want to master something, you have to immerse yourself in it (that is, surround yourself and fully absorb it). I didn't become an English expert in a day. It took me years . And it was not only the result of the institute, the support of my parents and the techniques that I mentioned. English immersion played a major role in my path to fluency.
I remember tuning in to the BBC in the evenings to stay up-to-date with world news and, without anticipating it, improved my own accent and pronunciation by listening closely to the news anchors. Similarly, reading English newspapers on a daily basis helped me write reports and express myself clearly. High school history classes focused on Western civilization, and before I knew it, I was quite familiar with English culture.
Finally, when my parents got bored with my constant demand for storybooks, they signed me up at the local British Council library . I read a book a week and participated in events and workshops that helped me develop my social, speaking and writing skills in English. As I think back to those days, I realize that I was not doing all these things to learn or improve my English but that mastering the language was a consequence of my curiosity about the world and surrounding myself with material in English.
Immersion in English can be so effective and easy for you too. For starters, both the BBC and the British Council have useful content to learn on their websites and you can access it for free. Try to think of English immersion as an organic (growing naturally) process . Don't think of it as an activity that is part of your study routine. Watch English TV shows or English movies in your spare time, first with subtitles and then without activating them. Listen to songs by bands that sing in English and pay attention to the lyrics. Discover the incredible world of podcasts in English .
Discovering the techniques that best suit you is your task.
Nothing can stop you on the path of learning if you are committed. With the internet so close at hand, there are tons of free educational material available. So even if you are having a hard time learning, don't lose hope and do your best. It may take a little time, but when you do, you will achieve everything you wanted. Soon you will be able to pass on your own advice to others when they ask you how to learn English.