People all over the globe are learning English as an additional language for many different reasons. However, without a prior knowledge of basic English structure, grammar, and vocabulary, learning the language can be an exhausting long journey, especially for adults. As many learners are usually preparing to take a language assessment, they overlook the one most important feature assessors look for: control over the language.
When attempting an IELTS speaking test, for example, assessors evaluate:
All the above features should be done with the least effort to prove that you have immersed yourself in the language and its culture, and that your brain can process thoughts almost the same way it processes your mother tongue language.
Is that even possible? The easy answer to this is “YES!”, but it needs to start with a desire to learn, dedication, and consistency. If you haven’t been successful in improving your English skills, moving to the next level, or getting a better score in a language assessment for months or years, it is time to accept the fact that what you have been doing is not enough. Below are some tips and tricks that can help you embrace the language faster.
Disable the Cable
It’s time to unsubscribe from your mother tongue. Until you achieve your English goals, we advise that you stop watching movies or TV shows in which people speak your mother tongue language. Instead, watch English movies, shows, and news. This might be stressful at the beginning as it will take you out of your comfort zone. However, it will improve your vocabulary and awareness of idioms and will enhance your listening-to-details skills. Furthermore, you will become more aware of cultural norms in North America.
Skip the Subtitles
English movies are great for increasing your exposure to the language. There are hundreds of genres that you can choose from according to your interests. If your English listening skills are not advanced enough, you can also start with cartoons, nothing is wrong with that! However, there is one rule that you must follow to learn the language faster; you must turn off subtitles written in your mother tongue language. If you are struggling to understand, we suggest that you add English subtitles, which will help you become a faster reader.
Now that you have achieved a learning-friendly environment at home, it’s time to do the same while hitting the road. Whether you are driving or taking the bus, try not to listen to stored-media on your phone and opt for English radio stations. Even if you feel that you don’t understand what you hear, eventually over time, you will become a better listener and you will learn to enjoy English music and songs. If you hear a song that you really like, search for it online, find the lyrics and try to memorize the words, so you can sing along next time you hear it on the radio (only do that if you’re in your car, never on the bus!).
Reset your Phone
Many English learners set their smartphones to their mother tongue language. This needs to stop. Change your phone’s language to English to get your eyes used to the English alphabet. Text your friends in English and improve your spelling skills with the spelling check feature. Skip short versions of words and write in full sentences.
Hit the Local Library
Visit your local library and borrow an English book. Depending on your language skills, pick a book that is not too easy but is still challenging. If adult novels are too hard, for example, pick a novel from the youth section or even a chapter book from the children section. Anything you read in English is better than reading nothing at all. This also applies to magazines and newspapers. The more you read, the faster you will become. Soon enough, you will be used to proper sentence structure, and you will be able to detect mistakes in your own writing.
When reading novels, choose a paragraph every now and then to read aloud. Reading loudly as if you are talking to a crowd enhances your confidence levels and helps you become a better speaker. When reading English aloud, make sure to relax your lips and curve your tongue in a smile shape in which the sides of your tongue touch your back teeth. This is the normal tongue position that native English speakers have while they speak. This will reduce your accent and make you sound more natural.
Listen to your Surroundings
When on the bus, at a coffee shop, or while waiting in line at the grocery store, pay attention to your surroundings and what people say to each other. You can learn colloquial vocabulary that you won’t usually hear on the news or read in books. If you hear a strange phrase like “way to go” or “catch you later”, write them down and check their meanings. Then, practice using those phrases in everyday conversation.
Taking an English course is a great way to enhance your language skills, but if you do not take the extra steps outside the class to become engrossed in the language and its culture, it might take you a long time to reach your goals.