Good English skills are vital to succeeding in life, in terms of education, career, and personal relationships. This means that many people want to improve their English, but it can be hard to know how to go about it. There are three main areas that have to be worked on: pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar.
Getting the pronunciation right is something that many international students worry about, but that people born in English-speaking countries often forget about, but it is equally important for all. After all, pronouncing the words you use correctly makes you look far more intelligent. The first step to improving pronunciation is often to slow down your speech a little and think a bit more carefully. Pay attention to consonants, particularly at the end of words (as these are often missed off in speech), and make sure sounds like “sh” and “th” come out properly. A good way to improve pronunciation is often to watch English movies in which people are speaking properly.
The second way to improve your English is to widen your vocabulary. One good way to do this is to learn a new word (or a few) every day, and make an effort to use them. Reading is also important in learning new words, as is looking up words you don’t know in a dictionary so that you will be able to use them yourself. Making sure that you fully understand the meaning is really important, though, because it is no good using new words if you don’t use them in the correct place.
Because of this, just knowing a dictionary definition may not be enough; you will need to know in what contexts the new word can be used or you could say something that makes no sense. The same applies to colloquial phrases, which many people use incorrectly after hearing them one time (perhaps used by a friend in the wrong context). Understanding the register is very important too, as you don’t want to use slang in a formal context, or alienate people in social situations with overly complex words that only serve to make you look arrogant.
The final thing to really work on is grammar, and spelling and punctuation with it. Reading will help a great deal in this respect, as you can learn from seeing it used properly. There are also plenty of websites and books available to help with grammar and punctuation if you’re unsure of how to use something. Improving your grammar is so important because spellcheckers still aren’t advanced enough to pick up most errors, or even incorrectly tell us to change something. Pronunciation and vocabulary must be improved though too, as all are equally important and all affect your grasp of the English language.
We live in a world where intelligence is tested by one's fluency in English. Even though it is mighty shallow, we can't deny its significance. Certainly, English has nothing to do with acumen, but it is in fact, the number one language in the world, and a proper aptitude in it doesn't hurt.
Now, all our lives we have been told that you can never master this language without reading a lot of books. No, indeed I'm not disagreeing to it; reading is extremely important for the nurturing of the mind, sermon, and soul but it's not the only thing you can do. With our hectic schedules, fast-paced lives, and even shorter attention span - reading may not always be everyone's cup of tea. I, for one, have never been an avid reader. I'm not proud of it, but I can't help it. I have my own little ways to keep my flow going. Here are some of my tactics:
1. Maintain a Diary/Journal: Ever since I was ten, I have had a number of diaries for different phases of my life. Writing about your day's accounts, about important occasions of your life or bad experiences can not only help you heal and help organize your thoughts and emotions but can also help you with your flow in English writing.
2. Read Out Loud: Take anything - a little book, pamphlet or an article. Refrain from reading in your mind but instead, read it out loud in front of a mirror. This way your words reach your ear and it gives you opportunity to catch yourself immediately when you're making a mistake. You can keep a dictionary handy to check the proper pronunciations. This exercise will positively help you with your English diction and speech delivery.
3. Watch English Movies and Shows: This is a common method, but an effective one. I've watched almost every TV show there could be in the 90's and believe me it helps. It might not give you a Hemingway or a Shakespearean vocabulary, but it definitely triggers interesting jargons and metaphors that stay with you for a long time. It also helps you with your everyday conversations and inscriptions here and there. Putting on the subtitles and listening through headphones can add an extra edge to this practice.
4. Surround Yourself with Superior English Speakers: Whether it's a cousin, friend or colleague – assign them to train and work alongside you. Make a specific timetable where you both speak and interact in nothing but English. Ask them to state your flaws and simultaneously correct them.
5. Read Magazines and Newspapers: Yes, newspapers are pretty mind-numbing and it can be a little over-ambitious to try and read the whole thing, but at least try! Try reading the titles as a minimum and point down words you've not known before. Unlike newspapers, magazines don't really cause attention spasms and can be quite fun. Reader's Digest, Get Smart or Vogue, you can learn plenty from all of them. Progressive English skills and better general knowledge? I don't see a better deal.
6. Watch a Lot of Interviews: I've always been an ardent fan of talk-shows. While growing up, The Oprah Winfrey Show and Rendezvous with Simi Garewal have had a huge influence on me. I loved how the hosts invited people from all walks of life who talked about their journey-highs and lows. The hosts and the guests were always so articulate and such powerful English orators that I almost always had something new to learn. It not only gives you uplift in vocabulary but also teaches you how to suitably conduct your speech.
7. Use Technology: The world revolves around technology today, and it's easy to adapt to this change. Listen to the radio, watch videos on YouTube, and listen to a lot of music. BBC World Service is an excellent source of spoken English. YouTube Channels like Learn English and Let's Talk gives you free lessons and helps you with your English, overall.
Rome wasn't built in a day. Similarly, your English proficiency would need a lot of time and perseverance. But don't be afraid to make mistakes, because if you don't, you won't learn what's right and wrong. You won't take risks, and you won't truly grasp the concepts you're
Rafidah Rahman is a teeny-tiny Hulk, she's always angry and she's always hungry. A cynical dreamer and a food enthusiast, she's your everyday entertainment. Correspond with her at https://web.facebook.com/rafidah.rahman.39 or email@example.com