Are you like the perfect language student?
Compare yourself to the student that learns a foreign language effectively, thoroughly and quickly in our famous infographic that has been seen by millions of people learning English around the world.
HOW CAN I LEARN ENGLISH PROPERLY?
You must do some learning every day. Think of learning English like learning to play a musical instrument.
When you start to play the piano for example, you do maybe 20 or 30 minutes practice a day, because after that your hands hurt. But every day, you get a little bit better. Years later (if you keep on practising) you can play piano for hour after hour and you love it.
So, do 5 or 10 minutes of English learning every day. Every day! Do not miss a day. Even when you are tired, make your brain work in the new language. Read a quick article on bbc.com. Sing along to a song twice! Watch a Youtube clip in English. Write down your plan for things you need to do tomorrow in English. 5 or 10 minutes every day!
Use it, or lose it, baby! :)
(THERE ARE LOTS MORE SUPER TIPS FOR THE BEST WAY TO LEARN ENGLISH BELOW THE PICTURE)
HOW CAN I MOTIVATE MYSELF TO LEARN?
Why did you start learning English to begin with? OK, maybe you started English classes at school and you didn't have a choice about it. But now, you want to improve your English skills because of a valid reason, don't you?
Maybe you want a better job and you need to speak great English to get that promotion. Perhaps you want to study at university in an English speaking country and you need to get a qualification like IELTS to prove your English level is high enough.
Whatever your aim is, write it down on a piece of paper. Even better, write down your objective on a post-it note and stick it next to your mirror, on the refrigerator or somewhere that you will see it all the time. Research has shown that people who write down their goals are "considerably more likely to achieve them than people who do not write down their goals".
So, let's look at an example: You want to go to a UK university to study medicine. You need to pass the IELTS English exam with a 7.5 Band score. Your end goal is to be a well-paid doctor that saves lives and helps people. So, get your piece of paper and write down "I will be a rich doctor and save lives because I will speak perfect English!"
Always remember and constantly remind yourself what your end goal is because of your language skills. That is the best way to motivate yourself to learn... and to keep on learning. If you are not motivated, it is very simple, you will not make a lot of progress in learning a new skill.
You must really WANT to be better, before you will find the energy, time and commitment to truly improve your English.
WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO REMEMBER NEW VOCABULARY?
To remember new vocabulary, you need to repeat, repeat, repeat... Let me explain!
Your memory is part of your brain, right? Your brain is a muscle, in the sense that it needs exercise to stay in top shape. Just imagine if you only used your brain to look at photos of Kim Kardashian all day, every day for 1 year. That would be NO exercise for your brain and just think how useful your brain would be after 1 year of that: useless, right?
So, the brain needs exercise to remember words. Sometimes, you can't remember a difficult word and you say out loud, "Oh, what's that word?". This 'searching for the word' happens because you do not use the word often enough for it to be in your active memory (the words and phrases that you say frequently) . The word is stored in the back of your brain/mind, somewhere in the passive memory (vocabulary that you almost never use, but you have seen or heard at some point in your life).
When you learn a new word in an English lesson, you should repeat the meaning of the word:
- A few minutes (3 to 5 mins) later
- 30 - 40 minutes later (in a review at the end of your English class)
- 4 - 6 hours later (maybe at the end of your day on the bus ride home)
- 24 hours after you first learnt the word (maybe in your English class the next day)
- 1 week later
- 1 month later
If you go through this process, the word will become stored properly in your long-term memory.
However, when you are being the perfect language learner, obviously you will be finding LOTS of new words, so you will need to record all this vocabulary somehow. So, write the words down in your phone. Be old-school and write them down in a little vocabulary book that you always carry around with you.
If you are serious about learning English, you will build up a library of words and they will become your best friends as you master the language.
HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO READ TO LEARN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE?
The best part of teaching English and the most rewarding aspect for me as an English teacher is when a student uses a word or phrase that is clearly above their normal level or some English saying that only a native-speaker would say. When I say to that student, "Wow! That is incredible English. That's what a real British person says! Where did you learn that?", the answer from the student is almost always, "Oh, I don't know. I think I read it some where once".
Exactly! Reading gives you thousands upon thousands of words used in their correct, natural setting. So many words occur in set phrases that people use again and again and again. Reading exposes you to all these word collocations.
Reading also gives you thousands of examples of correct grammar. Reading is like doing hundreds of English grammar questions, without really doing them... you are just getting the answers for free. :)
Every student that I have spoken to in 10 years of English classes that has really impressed with their English skills, I have asked them about their hobbies. Reading books in English is ALWAYS one of their main hobbies.
The best way to improve your English is to read! Read, read, read!
If you don't like reading long novels, then don't read them! Read short articles about things that interest you.
If you love basketball as your main hobby, then don't sit down and try to read a famous book in English like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. You will be bored and hate English reading before the end of the firs page.
Instead, read a short article from bbc.co.uk sports section about Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone or your favourite basketball team. It will be interesting for you. You won't feel like you are doing boring English homework.
Best of all, you will learn sooooo much about English grammar and come across useful new vocabulary without feeling like you are in an English class.
HOW CAN I STOP MAKING MISTAKES WHEN I SPEAK ENGLISH?
What is the worst thing that will happen if you make a mistake when you speak English? Will you get put in English prison? No! Will your head fall off because you were embarrassed? No!
Actually, you should be making some mistakes if you are good at learning languages. The people who are best at improving their English quickly are those that push themselves beyond their current knowledge by trying out new words. So, you need to be courageous and use grammar, phrases and vocabulary that you are not 100% sure are correct. If you are wrong, so what? Someone will correct you, and then you will have learnt something new.
Just stop for a moment and think about your mother-tongue language. How many English people have you heard speaking YOUR language perfectly? I bet that the answer is zero, isn't it?
It's impossible to learn any language, instrument, sport, recipe or anything without making mistakes along the way, right?
Making a mistake is a sign that you are actually making improvements. Learn from your mistakes. Realise that you are learning. Then go forward, onward and upward to making a whole new set of English mistakes. :)
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE...
1. Interactive Infographic - The History of the English Language
2. Interactive infographic - A tour of London and useful vocabulary
3. A list of all infographics by St George International English school.