It is one of members' experience in learning English:
The english we studied was quite poor and stuffed with boring grammar rules. At the end of my studying course I wasn't even able to deal with simple things in english, not to mention understanding natives. About 2 years ago I decided I wanted to learn english and became good at it!! I didn't attend a school because my job doesn't get me the chance to schedule a fixed time. I can be free for a week and then all of a sudden I have to work for 20 hours continuosly. So, I've been studing almost only through the internet. For this reason I think I have many things to share with you. This blog reflects my point of view on the subject and perhaps some teachers and educationists won't agree completely with me. This is only my own experience, I'm not an expert and since every person is different, take my advise with a pinch of salt. I think what I've done is working for me because in a 2 years time I achieved a quite satisfactory level. Now I can convey in english confidently and fluently. I still make many mistakes but I see them as an apportunity to correct and improve. And then, you know what? Once you deal with english every day, It starts being like a drug!! You get addicted! So now, I can't help staying with my everyday english as much as I can.
MOTIVATION, MOTIVATION, MOTIVATION
The first thing is MOTIVATION. How can you motivate yourself ? Well, first of all you should know what kind of student you are. Are you a person that likes to be told what to do? Then choose a teacher and do your assignments!! Are you a self-made free spirit, instead? If yes, then you can learn by yourself and ask the teachers when you've some doubts.
The tricks to keep up your motivation are:
- If you have an hobby, deal with it in ENGLISH!! I'll be both fun and instructive.
- Let english be a part of your everyday life. It'll become part of yourself.
- Be very enthusiastic with your progress. Compliment yourself often.
- Think that you are the best at speaking english, even though you know better than any other your limits
- NEVER let the teachers or other people taking your motivation down by saying you're not good or you are not talented enough to speak foreign languages. They probably envy your efforts and are using a stalling tactic! Simply stay clear from people who prevent you from taking out your best.
The best people for your english are those who motivate yourself in everyway. People that compliment your progress and point out your mistakes by laughing with you and not at you! Keep in mind that you need to make a lot of mistakes to improve and mistakes have nothing to do with your intelligence. Never take it personal ok??
BUILD YOUR VOCABULARY
A language is like a jigsaw puzzle, you need to have a lot of pieces in order to put them toghether and make sentences. When you succeed you get your sadisfaction!! You did it!! You are speaking the bloody english, for god's sake!! :-) Learning new words requires a little bit of time, patience, and unfortunately it could be boring. Anyway there'are a few tricks. Remember that your brain works by connections. It's more likely for you to recall a word if it's associated with something else: a picture, a facial expression, a situation, etc. The more the association is full of meaning for you the more you get a chance not to forget it. The more you use it the more you remember it. Never learn a list of words, once you decide to learn a new word use it in sentences. It heps your brain to make associations. As for me I started learning new words in relation to a specific topic. For instance: human body, clothes, forniture, etc. After a few days of making sentences with all the new words I started browsing on google and you tube looking for topics and using the words I had learnt as Tag words. For example, once I studied some vocabulary related to farming I started writing on you tube words like: milking a cow, weeding, cropping, etc. Sometimes it's very funny. You watch farmers talking about their new milking machine, cooks teaching recipes and so on. Even though you don't understand everything, try to spot the new nouns, verbs and prepositions you've just learnt. Moreover, don't forget to come every day to FUNKY ENGLISH and learn all the new words and expressions that teacher Jamie post.
LISTEN , LISTEN , LISTEN
Think about what a native does! Since when he was born he has been listening to english all the time. And that's exactly what you sholud do!! Start by listening to simple stories, fary tales, and stuffs for children, they'are entertaining and quite simple. Watch your movies in english (with subtitles in english). In the beginning is tough but I promise that after a few months it gets better!! Listen to good english (from natives either brits or americans) everyday is the most important thing, It helps you learn new phrases (which include perfect grammar). It gets your ears used to the english sounds and melodies. It boosts your love for english. After a few months, start listening to podcasts, radio programs and if possible set your tv in english !! When you like an expression learn it by heart ! Here's a list of useful free podcasts:
(this one is not meant for students so it's quite challenging - give it a try)
So, buy a podcast player and use your spare time to listen to english, before sleeping, while commuting from and to work, etc.
Not understanding natives after awhile you've studied english can be very frustrating! But think about it! When a native english speaker is 5 years old, he's listened to about 11.000 hours of actual spoken english. How many hours of english have you listened to? So, when you achieve such amount of active listening you'll be able to understand english better than a 5 year old native kid. In addition, as you know, there are a lot of different ways of speaking english: american, australian, british, etc. If you listen to different speakers from different countries you'll get confident with different kind of english and start recognising different accents (which is very fun). If you like gossip you can do your own big brother. Try to write on youtube: accent tag, boyfriend tag and girlfriend tag. Have fun!!
Of course do all the english exercises included in FUNKY ENGLSH, which stimulate your comprehension by asking questions. Teacher Jamie, thanks for that!!
SPEAK SPEAK AND SPEAK
When a native english kid has to eat or has got bellyache, he must overcome his psycological block and express himself!! If he wants to survive he has to say: Mom I'm hungry!!! Mom my tummy hurts!! Well, you have to do the same. Even if your belly is as fit as a fiddle and you've just eaten a cow, please overcome your psycological block and speak!! You're not perfect, (same as the 2 -3 or 4 year old natives) but if you are able to convey your message, you win. You've just been able to communicate in english. To hone your pronunciation go to the bbc learning site and learn the phonetic alphabet:
If you have got native english speaker friends, (lucky you) ask them to correct you. Read aloud every day at least for 10 minutes. Look for websites with downloadable files of spoken english and transcriptions, listen to the original speaker, line by line, and try to imitate exactly the same sound he produces. Record the process with your mobile and listen. Do it again untill the sound of your english is similar to the speaker's one. I also found this website useful (It's in american english) Try:
When you're alone speak english to yourself, better if you whisper. For example try to explain to yourself what you've done during your day or what you're about to do. Be shure doing it when you're alone, if you get caught you risk to be sent to a nuthouse, at least you'll have plenty of time to practise your english
Try the get acquainted with english native speakers that are living in your town. You can, for instance, give them lessons of your own language in exchange of chatting in english. Don't go to a private teacher without having a precise plan in mind, Prepare something to discuss about. Take an active part in your english improvement. Try to impress your teacher, (not in a sexual way, of course) but by showing him how good you got. Every meeting with your teacher should become a very fulfilling moment for both of you. Study a lot! He'll appreciate very much your effort and he'll try to do his best, because you're are also his own satisfaction.
READ AND WRITE
Since I started studing english there's always been an english dictionary by my side and my night table is full of books and magazines in english. Reading is very important. When you don't know a word or how to say a thing that's great!! It's a new wonderful opportunity to learn something new. Isn't it??!! If you read a lot, your grammar skills improve, your vocabulary grows and also your writing takes advantage. It's proved that your brain is able to understand words even if something í mising or wrong.
If you read a lot your brain takes a picture of the words so when you write and make a mistake your brain detects that there's something wrong. The image of the word you've just written doesn't match with the image your brain took several times by reading.
As for studying grammar, I think that it is important only when you start asking yourself questions. Like: Is it like this or that?? Ok check it up!! . Grammar is important to find answers, to be correct and it's essential for your writing skills, but don't spend your time by reading grammar books full of boring grammar rules.
They'll give you the wrong impression that you can't make it and that english is boring and difficult. Besides, they are probably going to block you when he comes to speak, because if you think of which grammar rules are involved in the sentence you're about to say, you'll never get through.
Anyway, If you are a masochistic google for "english exercise" and you'll find plenty of free exercises to challenge your grammar ability.
Ok guys, this is my experience and I consider myself lucky because I also have a supportive wife and a job who allow me to spend a lot of time doing english.
Thank you teacher Jamie for doing what you're doing and for your relentless useful prompting questions. I'm here since few days but I think this is a terrific space for lerners and english fans.
Probably in this script there're a few mistakes. Since I want to improve, if you could correct me I'd be more than happy.
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