Learning a new language is not an easy task. It takes a lot of time and effort to become fluent and sound like a native speaker. Making the decision to study English in the United States is the first step to dramatically improving your skills by immersing yourself in the language. Here at ELC, we have helped many students improve their English, and many of us have experienced learning other languages too! Here are some helpful tips from ELC teachers, staff, and students for improving your English:
This one is a very common, but very useful tip! Watching media in English will expose you to many phrases and words that you might not learn in the classroom. Slang is very common in mainstream informal English, and it changes constantly. By watching TV and movies, you can learn how to use slang in context. Also, hearing the language spoken familiarizes you with the pronunciation of words so that you can perfect your accent!
This tip is especially useful for those who are not living in a place where English is the native language. Sarah, who works in the office, learned to speak Korean in the home and says that watching Korean TV was very helpful. Student Lucas also says that watching English movies in their original format with English subtitles is very helpful.
Though you may be able to learn some English on your own, it is very important to study in a formal setting. English classes help you perfect your grammar and give you the opportunity to ask an experienced instructor questions. Vanessa, ELC’s director, has seen many students dramatically improve their English over time at ELC. She says the biggest improvements come from the students who are the most motivated. The more work you put in, the better your improvement! Still, English classes cannot be your only resource.
Learning new vocabulary will help you communicate better in English. There are several ways you can expand your vocabulary. A good tip is to keep a list of unfamiliar words that you come across throughout the day or in readings. Write the definition of the word and use it in a few sentences until you memorize it.
Using English in conversation will take away some of the anxiety you might have about being able to speak well. The more you practice speaking, the better you will get at communicating properly. Make it a point to make friends that you can speak English with, especially if you don’t live in a place where English is the native language. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions! If someone uses a word you don’t know, ask what it means! And, be open to being corrected! If you are not a native speaker, you will surely make grammatical mistakes. Having someone correct you when you make errors will help you avoid repeating them in the future.
When you are alone, speak aloud to yourself! As you walk around your home, narrate what you are doing. You might feel strange, but speaking at every chance you gets helps reinforce proper English grammar usage and new vocabulary.
TOEFL teacher Terri likes to give her students this special pro-tip: pick a topic to speak about, and record yourself speaking for a minute. Grab a pen and paper, and listen to the recording, writing down word-for-word everything you said, even the errors. Next, grab a red pen and correct your writing. Read it aloud again. Next time, you probably won’t make the same mistakes!