For people who speak English as their second language, mastering it can be an enormous challenge, especially in the third-world countries like Pakistan, where lack of quality education and awareness makes it difficult for many people to adhere to the ways of smooth and effective learning. The following tips are guaranteed to help you enhance your language skills and give you the confidence to speak English well. However, I firmly believe that no one can learn anything without struggling or making mistakes. So, it’s worth keeping in mind that the following suggestions are only for serious, determined and hard working learners for I do not believe we have any royal road to learning.
1. Listen to English songs:
Listening to English songs is an exciting way of getting yourself interested in the language learning process. We all enjoy music so why not make it an educational tool and improve your listening skills.
2. Speak in English and do not be afraid of making mistakes:
Learning a foreign language is not an easy task and requires a lot of sincere effort. Keep telling yourself that it’s okay to make mistakes. When my students speak wrong English, I tell them it’s okay. I encourage them to speak whatever they can. The trick is to not lose confidence and be positive.
3. Watch Hollywood movies:
Watching movies will help you get a clear grasp of the language as you can see how the native English speakers speak and use different words and phrases. It helps you understand how they use the language in their daily lives. It also helps in correcting your pronunciation. Besides, indulging in a movie is easier and so much fun than actually watching some educational video for the same purpose.
4. Keep a personal diary:
One interesting way to keep English alive in your daily life is to make a habit of writing a personal journal. Writing a small journal entry everyday will help enhance your writing, and thinking skills. Do not worry about writing too much. A small paragraph of about 6 to 7 short sentences is enough for beginners.
5. Talk to your friends, siblings and teachers in English and make it a part of your daily life:
The more you speak, the more fluent you will become. Speaking in English regularly with classmates, siblings, cousins and teachers will make you more confident and get rid of your shyness and inhibitions. Also, make sure to chat with your friends or cousins ( SMS, WhatsApp) in English. That’s how you are going to become proficient in it. That’s how English will become a part of your system.
6. Keep a good quality pocket dictionary handy:
Along with being a pleasurable activity, reading is also the best way to master your language skills. Not only will you come across new words, phrases and metaphors while reading, you will also learn how to use them. Reading helps you understand a wide variety of sentence structures. While a dictionary will give you meanings, reading books and magazines will tell you how to use words and expressions correctly in your spoken and written language. So, make sure you read lots of books and magazines.
8. Make two to three sentences daily:
In order to keep new words active in your vocabulary, you must use them regularly in both spoken and written English. One way of doing this could be to make 2 or 3 sentences daily. Simply pick some words and use them to write sentences of your own. You could also use these words when you are writing a journal entry. Make sure to keep your life hassle-free and pick just 2 or 3 words daily. Too many words, too much work will soon tire you and I never want my students to get fed up with the learning process. 🙂
9. Write a short essay once a week:
An essay of about 120-150 words every week on any topic of your choice ( My Favourite TV Show or Friendship for example) will benefit you greatly. It will make you think. It will make you use the words you have learned. It will also help you construct sentences. However, it must be kept in mind that good writing is closely associated with your reading habit. The more you read, the better you will write for reading develops thoughts and boosts creativity.
10. Update Facebook status in English:
Facebook has become a crucial part of our lives. Updating status three to four times a day has become a habit now. Facebook can help improve your writing skills too. While many people find it a convenient option to update their status in their local language, I think English language enthusiasts should update their status in English. This will prove extremely useful because updating status is a part of our lives ( at least it’s mine 😉 ) and writing what’s on your mind in 2 to 4 sentences on Facebook everyday will soon help you write well and with ease.
11. Do not focus “too much” on Grammar:
While grammar is crucial to building the foundation of your language skills, too much emphasis on learning grammar often distracts students from learning “real English” which is reading, writing, speaking and listening. In Pakistan especially, I have observed that schools and English language centres emphasize way too much on grammar but still people can’t speak or write good English. Many of my friends from reputed schools, can do numerous exercises on reported speech, active and passive voice with utmost ease but when they speak, they are not able to use all those grammar rules they were made to learn by heart at school, and falter while speaking. Also,I feel that many students find grammar classes boring compared to creative writing or speaking classes where they are free to express their thoughts in their own unique ways.
12. Do not attempt to translate every single English word or sentence into your local language:
While it is only natural for non-native English speakers to translate foreign words into their own language, I believe doing so is not always a good idea as not every English word, phrase, or sentence can correspond with your local language. There are for example thousands of idioms and proverbs in the English language which you can’t always find in Urdu, Arabic or Hindi. It becomes a cryptic puzzle when learners want to translate it all into their local language. So, to make life simple don’t attempt to understand everything in your mother-tongue. Try to comprehend stuff through live experiences, looking at objects, videos etc or asking your English teachers to explain through examples. Besides, when you translate everything in your own language, English loses its flavour.
13. Speak in English with yourself:
I know this sounds really weird but speaking your thoughts aloud in English 3 to 4 times daily will make you a confident speaker. It will take time but once you get used to it, you will discover how easy it is to express your thoughts in English even when you are alone and have no one to practice English with. This is especially beneficial when you have nobody at home to practice English-speaking with you.
14. Focus on correct English pronunciation not English accent:
When you are studying English language, your attention and focus should be on correct pronunciation. Many people get carried away by the sophisticated foreign accents of native English speakers. However, it must be understood that while you can always master the language, your attempt to imitate their accent and dialect will only make you sound phony. Unless you were born and brought up abroad, or you have been practicing “speaking” in that way since childhood, you can’t speak like them.
15. Do not give up:
All the above ways of learning English language will fail miserably if you are not determined enough. Determination and a strong willpower will bring you closer to being an impressive English speaker or writer. Sorry to burst your bubble but there are no short cuts to success.
Have a good time and do comment if you have anything to say! 🙂
Written by Shumila Malik