1. Set a goal
Make sure you set a goal of what level you want to reach: to get a better job, to start studying in an English speaking country, to travel, just because you want to have a new challenge. Whatever your goal is, once you set it you need to stick to it!
2. Find an English course that suits your needs
Just like we all have different likes and dislikes, different ideas about life, we have different ways to acquire knowledge. Find out what type of learner you are, and which method suits you best. As soon as you find the right setting and the right tools to learn, learning English will be easy and fun!
3. Take responsibility
Learning is a process that needs time and dedication. You and only you can take control over what you do, when and how you do it. Remember that short and steady practice is much better for the mind than long and irregular periods, so you don’t need to spend all day practising: just a few minutes every day will be enough for you to practice in any way you choose: reading, listening to music or doing exercises. Try to make it an everyday habit.
4. Read as much as you can!
Even if your level is very basic, you can start reading things for your level – if what you read is too difficult, you‘ll get discouraged. Try children’s books or comics – it might feel silly but the pictures and simple structures will help you understand words you have not yet studied and they will help you with everyday language in a context that is easier for you to understand.
5. Watch movies with subtitles
Everyone loves movies. It’s a great idea to watch movies with subtitles or to watch movies you have already seen in your native language, in English. Or find your favourite TV series and watch it again in English! Use the internet to search for things you are interested in: your hobbies or things related to your profession or work. When you watch or read things which you are familiar with, it’s easier for you to understand.
6. Listen to English
It is very important to improve not only your speaking but also your listening skills. Even if you are not very fond of music, listening to songs or music videos in English will help you identify new words and expressions that you can use later on. Podcasts are very useful to improve your English sounds and intonation. Voiced chats can help you boost both your listening and speaking skills. Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything you hear or read, you will start understanding things thanks to the context. The context is extremely important and will give you many clues about the meaning of new words or expressions.
7. Use the language while you are learning it.
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.
I know it’s easier said than done, but everybody makes mistakes, even native speakers! Don’t let this put you off. There will come a day when you realize what mistakes you make and you’ll be able to correct them without your teacher’s help, but until this point you need to use the language and making mistakes is the best way to learn! Always use English. Even if you don’t know how to say something, try not to translate directly, find another strategy to communicate what you want to say. Even if it’s a very simple way, use your imagination to overcome difficulties. Use simple expressions. Sometimes short and simple sentences will make you more comfortable and will help you put what you think into words.
8. Practice, practice, practice!
“Practice makes perfect” Don’t miss any chance you have to practice. The only way to master the language is by practicing, and you need to use English any time you can. You can’t learn to drive without driving the car! Just like you can’t learn English without speaking and practicing!
9. Use a variety of resources
Learn “real English”, not just textbook English. Although textbooks provide graded lessons, they are usually written following methods that are not “natural”. The internet, movies, reality shows, newspapers and magazines, give you more variety and use authentic vocabulary and structures. That’s exactly what you need to be exposed to, to start mastering a language.
10. Develop the four language skills simultaneously
Make sure to focus on all the skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. This will give you more confidence. If you only know how to write and read, like some traditional teaching methods focus on, then you won’t feel confident to speak English or when others are speaking.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, you need to find a course that uses a method that suits your learning style. There are many institutions you can choose from. Wall Street English is one of them: it helps students acquire the language in a natural way – just as we learn our own languages. It offers self-study, small classes, an English environment and above all, it gives the chance to use In-class and out-of-class activities to practice your English.