SMART WAYS TO BE BETTER IN LEARNING ENGLISH*
By: Leni Marlina, S.S.**
About one-and-a-half billion (1,500,000,000) people spoke English at the start of the 21st century. That was one quarter (¼) of all people on earth. More than 400 million (400,000,000) speak English as their first language. The rest speak English as a second or third language for their professional and personal lives. English has been as international language for hundred or years. Now, it has been in schools, sciences, and technologies. Even it is required to get job in this globalization era.
Although we are in a non-English speaking country, of course we can not avoid learning English. You may have tried so hard, you read many English books and you pay a lot of money for learning English but deeply inside you feel you don’t go anywhere. You still can not speak English fluently, still cannot communicate very well with foreigners. Why? Because you learn English only few hours a day, you learn with brain which what you have learnt would stay very shortly in your memory and then fade away. If you want to speak English well, what should you do to improve your English? It is much better for you to do these 11 smart strategies as below.
- 1. “Speak, speak, and speak!”
You should try to speak English as much and as often as possible. You may practice your English alone in front of mirror first (to build your self confidence). Then you should continue speaking English with your family, neighbors, friends, teachers, societies and native speakers. Please speak English to anybody who you think understand English and they like speaking English too. At least you speak English to anybody who wants to support you even though she/he cannot speak English well.
2. Watch TV and listen to radio!.
Watching TV and listening to radio as well cassettes, especially for English program, will effectively improve your English. You watch News on local channel almost everyday, don’t you? Change it to CNN instead or any English news channels which available in our country. Watching the news is a good way to start, because most of the journalists speak very clearly, without strong accents. You may also watch Talk Shows, Movies, Comedies and Quizzes. In addition you may listen to western music.
If it is possible, “practice with movies!”. This step requires you many DVD movies. Why DVD? You can select language on DVD independently. Before start, you need to choose your favorite accent first. Be careful with this step for learning to speak English. If you like British English accent you have to watch English Movie. If you like American accent which is much easier to find you just pick American accent movie. After you’ve chosen then start watching it and exactly repeat what you hear. If you don’t know any words you may turn subtitle on so you can know what actors/ actress actually says.
- 3. “Read, read, and read!”
The more you read the better your English will be. Through reading you acquire new vocabularies without even realizing. You may read books, newspapers, magazines, etc.
Reading books is a good way to improve your English. When reading, read them aloud, so you can practice your pronunciation. Remember that books are, maybe, the best teachers you’ll ever get! They give you new vocabulary, practice your grammar (since you see a lot of sentences, this helps you to memorize the rules) and give you more control of the language. Get a bunch of books written for young people. They use to be in plain English and it’s a good way to start, before reading any more complex books.
If you like reading local newspapers, add your collection now with English newspapers. If it is possible, stop reading local newspapers. You should change them into any English one until several months.
4. Write in English!
You should start writing your note in English. You usually note anything in your own language but from now on, no more. Write it down in English even it is probably wrong. Try to create your schedules and make the lists in English. Please write your daily activities in English. Please write your dairy in English. Please keep writing in English everyday although you write one new sentence only. Just ignore and keep doing it, you’ll get more experience and be easier soon.
5. Think in English!
Many languages have similar rules, but remember: When learning a language, use translation only in the beginning! If you use translation a lot, this might become an addiction, which won’t let you to think in English. Thinking in the language is mandatory, after a certain point.
There is no exception in your mind, you have to think English! I repeat, think everything in English! This may be frustrated in the beginning but will be easier eventually. Believe me, I’ve done it before. This is very hard way to learn to speak English but extremely work.
6. Consider the grammar!
Grammar is important, but the only way to fix all those rules in your mind is through conversation. Don’t ever forget it! If you enjoy memorizing grammar, and you don’t fell annoyed in speaking, just keep doing it. Id you fell annoyed, forget the grammar first, you say what you want to say in your daily life. When you have been brave enough in speaking English, consider your grammar to be more self confident in speaking English.
7. Use dictionary!
A bilingual dictionary in the beginning and an English-English dictionary further on. The thick dictionaries are usually used at home or at campus. It is better for you to have the pocket dictionary too. So, wherever you go you may bring it in your pocket or bag. Whenever you need new vocabularies, you may open it.
8. Don’t wait, don’t postpone, practice right now!
“Don’t wait until tomorrow!” If you have a chance to speak English do it soon. Learning English requires a lot of practice, so practice it as soon possible and as often as possible! Try borrowing some books from a friend and try to talk with your friends that have better skills than you do in English, even if you’re in a country which the native language is not English.
9. Keep practicing!
Learning English requires a lot of practice and determination, so don’t try to learn everything at once, but don’t ever give up! Keep trying and you’ll be able to learn! “Practice makes you perfect!”
10. Join English club, spoken English activities, and English games!
You should join English club. If there is no English club, you establish your own club and invite other friends to join it. You can share each others about your experience in speaking English. You can help each other in improving your English. You may hold spoken English activities with friends, such as debate, singing, story telling, reading news, reading poem and drama. Besides, there are various English games available nowadays whether conventional or modern. You also may use them to motivate you in studying English.
11. Try to be creative and innovative!
You may find or create your own activity or strategy to study English easier. You may use your own strategies to increase your English ability. Don’t depend much on people’s support. You are the best supporter for your self. If you are bored, try to tell a joke, do the puzzle, or other English activities you interested in.
12. Keep praying!
“Ask God’s help by being patient and praying”
“In any difficulty, there is solution, in any solution there is difficulty”. God bless you.
* The paper is delivered in the program of “ISSUe For-Me” by the students of Economic Faculty UNP (November 24th 2007).
** She is lecturer at English Department FBBS UNP.