How to learn English?
February 8, 2024
English is not just a language that we learn in school, it's a key that unlocks countless doors to a world of opportunities. Whether we're reading our favorite books, chatting with friends, or exploring the vast expanse of the internet, English plays a crucial role in our daily lives.
English is like a global language glue that helps people from different corners of the world understand each other. When we speak English, we can connect with friends, make new ones, and share our thoughts with people from diverse cultures. It's like having a superpower that allows us to communicate with almost anyone, anywhere! This is one of the reasons English is so influential- people see it as a global language, a language that’s spoken everywhere irrespective of whether a country has it as a first or second language or not.
Imagine if you could only read books, watch videos, or explore the internet in one language. That would be quite limiting, right? English opens the doors to a vast library of information, from exciting stories and scientific discoveries to historical events and technological advancements. Gaining proficiency in English connects us to an extensive pool of information and keeps us informed about worldwide developments. Learning additional languages motivates us to broaden our horizons and explore new territories.
English is a doorway to different cultures. When we read English literature or watch English movies, we get a glimpse into the lives, traditions, and histories of people from around the world. It's like taking a journey without leaving our homes, experiencing the richness of diverse cultures. In today’s India, knowing English is almost like a prerequisite to being smart. It seems hard, but it's actually one of the most interesting languages out there.
Most professions require English proficiency, and it's like having a golden ticket to a wide range of exciting career paths. Our entire childhoods are spent trying to master a language that’s not even ours, only because the future seems brighter if we know it.
Ways to learn English
Over 840 million people speak English as their first or second language. The most spoken language after Mandarin, it is the official language of 67 countries as well as 27 non-sovereign entities such as Hong Kong or Puerto Rico. In India, only 30% of the population can speak and understand English. Why is the figure so underwhelming? India has been on a path to improve its literacy rates since Independence and it has come really far, but English is one of those things that everyone puts more focus on but many people end up never grasping the true knowledge of the language. Have you always wanted to learn English too?
Learning English the right way has to start from childhood. When your brains are still in the development stage, they learn things quickly. That is why the concept of vowels (a, e, i, o, u) is one of the very first things you learn in school. But there is no right time to learn new things and the learning can start at any age.
Acquiring English is more about learning the correct application of vocabulary than just memorizing it. It teaches us to evaluate information critically, articulate our thoughts with clarity, and approach challenges with innovative solutions. These abilities are invaluable, extending beyond academic environments to daily life scenarios. Any language needs deep understanding if one wants to learn it independently. People need to get into the roots of it before they make it all about remembering things by heart.
To know English, you need to be good at four things- Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing.
Just like a musician needs to develop an ear for music, language learners need to make themselves ready for English. Listening to a new language is a wild read, beginners need to make sure they’re creating an environment that has English in all forms. Make sure that you get accustomed to hearing English because without gaining the comfort of a language, you might always feel like an outsider who is listening to an alien language.
To enhance your English skills, engage with English-speaking media such as songs, films, and television series. Focus on the way words are pronounced and how sentences are structured, understanding that it's normal not to grasp every single word initially. This method will gradually help you familiarize yourself with the language's nuances. Many children who learn English at a young age are exposed to it from the start because their parents communicate in the language and surround them with English resources. Continuously listening to a language opens many new doors for you, helping your brain to pick the language piece by piece.
To enhance your listening skills, consider using language learning apps that offer interactive listening exercises. These can help you grasp various accents and dialects, making you more adaptable to real-world English scenarios.
Speaking English might feel intimidating, especially if you're not surrounded by native speakers. However, practice is key. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are an integral part of the learning journey. Engage in conversations with people around you. Talk to your family members in English, and make them understand the importance of communication. The more you speak, the more confident and proficient you'll become.
Regular practice will help you overcome the initial hesitation and build your speaking fluency. Research makes it clear that languages come with practise, and until you fail at it, how will you get better at it?
Talking to your friends and family in English will give you a good start because they won’t be the ones judging you. Starting to speak English in a safe environment can give you a good boost of confidence, especially when people around you appreciate and encourage you.
Reading is a journey into different worlds, perspectives, and ideas. It is not just about words on a page, it's about understanding what is written. Start with simple texts and gradually progress to more complex materials. English literature, newspapers, blogs, and even social media can provide a diverse range of vocabulary and sentence structures. Reading newspapers daily has helped many to learn English gradually. You’ll learn new things and new ways to experiment with the language.
Utilize resources like graded readers, which are designed for learners at different proficiency levels. They provide engaging stories with controlled vocabulary, making it easier for you to comprehend and enjoy the reading process. Pick up what seems to be best for you and start reading. There is no shortcut to it- the more you read, the more you’ll understand it, and the more you’ll like it. Many people fall in love with reading because they like what they’re reading: pick up comic books, story books, basically anything that seems interesting to you and begin!
Also, make a habit of reading aloud. It helps improve pronunciation and boosts overall language comprehension. Reading aloud will give you the confidence to speak English as well.
Expressing thoughts in writing can be challenging, but it's a crucial aspect of language proficiency. Begin by maintaining a diary or journal in English. Share your daily experiences and ideas in the language. This not only enhances your writing skills but also solidifies your grasp of grammar and vocabulary. Writing what you feel can help you understand your feelings better as well.
There are many online journal-keeping apps and websites as well, just make your account and start writing. Although, writing with a pen and paper will always help you more.
Writing English can help you think better, in English. You’ll think in English, speak in your mind, write it on paper, and you can read it out loud too. Checking your grammar later will also help you improve your skills. Go buy a cute notebook and jot down your thoughts, it will clear your mind and help you learn English in a better way.
Making English a Lifestyle
Bring English into Your Daily Life
Learning a language is a lifestyle. As long as you see it as a task, you won’t be able to be good at it. It will always seem like a burden to you. But once you let it in as a way of communication and something that you’re interested in working on, it will come to you naturally.
Surround yourself with English as much as possible. Change your phone, computer, and social media settings to English. Follow English-speaking influencers, watch YouTube channels, and participate in English-speaking quizzes online. The more exposure you have, the more natural the language will become.
Create a learning environment by labeling objects in your home in English, and try thinking in English as much as possible. Immerse yourself in the language, and soon, you'll find yourself thinking, dreaming, and even joking in English. Thinking in English will be the first step to recognising that you are on the right path. When English comes naturally to you, confidence will come from within.
Technology has changed our entire world. With the internet at our disposal, learning anything new has never been easier. Take advantage of the several language learning apps and websites available. Apps like Duolingo and Babbel offer interactive lessons. These sessions will be engaging for you and can also be customized to your needs. They are like games, they help you learn English and have fun while doing it. They make the entire process enjoyable.
Technology can really change the way you learn English. With plenty of resources available on the web, it has made the language more accessible to all. If we make the right use of technology, it is the biggest boon for us that we never even knew we needed.
Overcoming Common Challenges
Embrace the Learning Process
One of the hurdles in learning English is the apprehension about making errors and being judged. Recognize that mistakes are part of the learning journey. The fear of incorrect expression should not deter you from practicing. People know how hard it is to learn the language so they’ll be more than willing to help you out. But more importantly, we live on a massive rock, and our lives are short. If you keep thinking about how people will judge you, you will never be able to learn a new skill.
No one is perfect at any new thing. To overcome this fear, practise English as much as you can. Learn, read, write, speak, and listen more. The more you communicate, the more confident you'll become in expressing yourself.
Make Learning a Habit
Regular engagement with the language is essential. Allocating a specific period each day to English practice, even if brief, can lead to substantial progress. Integrating this practice into your daily schedule consistently is challenging but rewarding. If you learn how to be consistent, know that you’ve won half the battle.
Use your devices to set reminders. Make a list in your diary and note what you learn every day. Don’t miss a day, even if you are able to learn 10 minutes on one day, it’s better than none.
Learn with Context
Expanding your vocabulary is an ongoing process. Instead of memorizing isolated words, learn them in context. Use them in sentences, and relate them to specific situations. Connect them to your daily experiences. This approach not only makes learning more meaningful but also helps you remember and apply words more effectively.
Engage in activities like crossword puzzles, word games, or vocabulary-building apps to make the process enjoyable. Additionally, read a variety of materials to learn new words in different contexts.
Practice, practice, and practice
- Broaden your exposure to different English accents, such as those from the UK, the US, and Australia. Consuming media from these regions will aid in understanding various dialects and enhance your listening comprehension.
- Practice mimicking native speakers to improve your pronunciation. Repeat sentences, pay attention to intonation, and try to mirror the rhythm of different accents. This not only helps you adapt to diverse accents but also enhances your overall speaking skills.
- Opt for language learning resources that expose you to different accents. Many language apps and online courses feature speakers from various regions. Choose materials that incorporate diverse voices to familiarize yourself with different accents.
Beyond the basics
- As you advance in your English language journey, explore literature more deeply. Read classic and contemporary novels, essays, and poetry. Analyze the nuances of language, understand different writing styles, and delve into the cultural context behind the texts.
- Participating in discussions about literature or topics of interest in English, through book clubs or online forums, not only improves language comprehension but also facilitates cultural exchange.
- Immerse yourself in the world of English media and arts. Watch documentaries and attend events where you’ll be exposed to English. This immersive experience will help you be more comfortable with the language and fall in love with it.
- Engage with English-speaking communities, both online and offline, to stay updated on cultural events and trends. Participate in discussions, share your perspectives, and learn from others.
- Tailor your English learning towards your professional objectives by focusing on industry-specific language and communication styles. Seek out specialized online courses, workshops, and certification programs that cater to English for professional purposes.
- Attending conferences or webinars in English can provide valuable exposure. Use these opportunities to practice professional communication and build a network of English-speaking friends.
Tips and Techniques: Starting from scratch
- 1. Begin your English learning journey by understanding the basics. Familiarize yourself with the 26 alphabets, five vowels (a, e, i, o, u), and the concept of syllables (having vowel sounds). Syllables are the building blocks of words, ranging from monosyllabic (one syllable) to polysyllabic (many syllables). Mastering these basics lays a strong foundation for further learning.
- 2. Explore the world of speech sounds and symbols. There are 44 speech symbols in English that can help in accurate pronunciation. Of these, 24 are consonant sounds, and 20 are vowel sounds, including diphthongs (a sound formed by two vowels in a single syllable). Understanding these symbols enhances your ability to understand words correctly.
- 3. Expand your vocabulary gradually. Once you have a good range of words, delve into understanding their functions in sentences. Learn about the eight parts of speech: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. Knowing how to use these parts of speech adds depth to your language skills.
- 4. Comprehend the structure of sentences using the SVOCA framework (Subject-Verb-Object-Complement-Adjunct). Recognizing where each part of speech fits into a sentence enhances your ability to construct clear and meaningful sentences. Experiment with different sentence patterns to improve your ability to express.
- 5. Understand the four types of sentences: assertive (declarative), interrogative, exclamatory, and imperative. Familiarity with sentence types adds flexibility to your communication. Explore the three main sentence structures: simple, compound, and complex sentences.
- 6. Grasp the concept of tenses, a crucial aspect of English grammar. Understand the three main tenses (Present, Past, and Future), along with their Simple, Continuous, Perfect, and Perfect Continuous forms. Proper knowledge of tenses ensures meaningful communication.
- 7. As you progress, explore advanced topics like Passive Voice, Figures of Speech, Idioms, Phrases, and Clauses. These elements serve to embellish and modify your language, providing a nuanced and sophisticated touch to your communication.
- 8. Embrace error correction as a powerful learning tool. Actively seek out and correct mistakes in your written and spoken English. Use online tools for error detection, but verify their suggestions to ensure accuracy. Keep a record of identified errors and use the correct forms in your future communication.
Common Errors to Avoid
To prevent common errors in English, be mindful of the following:
- Agreement of Subject and Verb: It's important to ensure that the subject and verb in a sentence always agree in number, which is vital for grammatical accuracy in English.
Example: Incorrect: The team is playing well.
Correct: The team are playing well.
- Verb Tenses: Use the appropriate tense to express the intended meaning accurately.
Example: Incorrect: Yesterday, she will finish her homework.
Correct: Yesterday, she finished her homework.
- Preposition Usage: Pay attention to the correct use of prepositions in different contexts.
Example: Incorrect: She is good in swimming.
Correct: She is good at swimming.
- Pronoun Reference: Ensure clarity by using pronouns that clearly refer to their antecedents. Using pronouns that match what they're talking about helps keep things clear.
Example: Incorrect: Sarah gave a gift to her friend, and she loved it.
Correct: Sarah gave a gift to her friend, and her friend loved it.
- Sentence Structure: Be mindful of sentence structure, avoiding run-on sentences or sentence fragments.
Example: Incorrect: The sun was shining, it was a beautiful day.
Correct: The sun was shining. It was a beautiful day.
Learning English is a lifelong journey. Don’t think of English as your final destination, think of it as a continuous journey. As you navigate the language, remember that progress is gradual, and each step forward is an achievement. Embrace the challenges, celebrate your successes, and stay curious. The world of English is vast, diverse, and ever-evolving. Keep exploring, keep learning, and let the language unfold. Whether you're pursuing it for personal development, academic goals, or professional advancement, English is a language that opens doors. The journey might be tough, but it will definitely be satisfying.
Table of Content
Ways to learn English
Making English a Lifestyle
Overcoming Common Challenges
Beyond the basics
Tips and Techniques: Starting from scratch
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