Ten Tips for Learning English as a Second Language “What are the best ways to learn a language?”

Do you want to learn?Do you want to learn?

First of all you must want to learn. On many occasions, when I meet my students for the first time I point out quite clearly that if they are not interested in learning English, no class will help you, no book will help you, and no hints will make it easier. If you are not interested, you will find reasons to avoid studying, and whenever you do study, it will be very difficult. You have to be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, “Do I really want to learn English?” If you cannot answer, “yes” to this question, it is better for you to set aside English until you are ready and willing to learn. I find that those students who are committed to their studies always perform much better than those who are not committed.

Identify your motivation.Identify your motivation.

I always ask my students to ask themselves, “Why do I want to learn English? Why do I want to improve my English?” I find that those students who have a good reason to study find success sooner than others. Some people want to learn English to get a better job, or to be considered for a promotion. Other people may need to learn English to attend school or University. Still, other people may want to learn English so they can enjoy life in English speaking countries more, by being able to understand movies and T.V. and make friends with their neighbours. Each student is different from another, their motivations will be different also. If you have identified your motivation, it will be easier for you to learn English, because it will help to encourage you as you learn English.

Set Goals.Set Goals.

Once you have identified your motivation, you can set some goals for learning English. Having goals will help you to remember what areas you want to work on, and it will help you to see your progress. Ask yourself, “What are my goals? What areas would I like to improve?” Pronunciation? Listening comprehension? Would you like to increase your vocabulary? Do you want to know what to say when you go to the bank, the doctor, shopping? Think about what your goals are, and review once in a while to see that you are making progress toward your goals.

Practice, practice, practice.Practice, practice, practice.

After you have set your goals, you have a better idea of what you need to practice. As a language learner you must practice language every day to make progress toward your goal. We say, “Practice makes perfect.” This means the more you practice something, the better you become at it, and the fewer mistakes you will make.

Specific ways to practice:

  1. 1. Speak to English speakers as much as possible.
  2. 2. Write, write, write – letters, email, notes, etc.
  3. 3. Make phone calls to practice your English.

Expose yourself to English as much as possible.Expose yourself to English as much as possible.

The more you expose yourself to English, the more you get used to it and the more familiar it becomes to you. You will start to recognize what sounds correct and what sounds incorrect. You will also start to understand why certain words or phrases are used instead of others, and you will start to use them in your own conversation and writing. English will start to become a habit, and little by little you will find it easier to use English.

Specific ways to increase exposure to English:

  1. 1. Watch T.V. and films.
  2. 2. Listen to the radio.
  3. 3. Read as much as possible.

Enlarge your vocabulary.Enlarge your vocabulary.

Having a large vocabulary is basic to learning any language, and it is especially true in English. A good aim is to have knowledge of at least 3,000 words. Reading is a very good way to learn new words. So is doing puzzles or playing different kinds of word games.

Enjoy yourself.Enjoy yourself.

Enjoying yourself increases your ability to remember, so the more you enjoy yourself as you learn English, the easier it will be to remember. Play games and puzzles. Even simple ones, designed for children, provide good experience and practice for English. Comic books and newspaper comic strips are also a good way to have fun, and the pictures make it easier to understand than stories.

Make friends who speak English.Make friends who speak English.

If you make friends with English language speakers, you will find they can be a very valuable help in your learning English. Putting yourself in the situation where you have no choice but to speak English will benefit you greatly. You will also have someone whom you can ask questions regarding language and culture etc.

Make regular study a habitMake regular study a habit

Regular study is a key to success in learning a language. It is easier to study a little each day instead of trying to study several hours only one day a week. Also, studying a little each day makes it easier to review what you’ve learned and remember new things.

Acknowledge the progress you have made.Acknowledge the progress you have made.

Finally it is important to recognize that you will improve as you study English. Sometimes when you set your goals, they seem very difficult. Progress comes little by little, so it’s hard to see if you have grown in your language skills. Think where you are at today, and where you were last week or month. Maybe it doe not seem like you have come very far. If you stop and think about where you were six months ago, or even a year ago, then you see that you have made progress. You have improved your English, and that is a reason to celebrate your accomplishment. It gives you hope that as you continue to study and work hard at improving your English, you will reach your goal sooner or later.