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Sunday, May 6

5 Steps to Become a Better English Speaker





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      Everybody wants to learn English and improve their communication skills these days. They know exactly what they need in today's highly-globalized world. There are hundreds of questions and issues though about the best technique to learn the English language. Plus, if you're a non-native speaker, you probably think most of the ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching out there is too hard for you to make any sense of.








Step # 1:  Change your wrong impression of Grammar




        If you're a non-native speaker, I bet your grammar isn't bad. In fact, you studied a lot of English grammar in your elementary, middle school, and high school. Now the first thing you need to do is to unlearn the bad impression of grammar that you got.



     Grammar isn't dry, useless, dead, only paper-based, strict, and boring. Quite the opposite! Grammar is fun, practical, dynamic, situation-based, free, and exciting. (That is, if your teacher had known how to teach it right.)



     Grammar isn't something you can run away from in English. And Grammar isn't some scary, dictatorial monster anyway. You should start seeing Grammar as a friend who only gives you guidelines - not rules.



        In short, real Grammar says: "Do," not "Don't."









Step # 2: Forget the Myth of Listening




       The myth of Listening claims that Listening is a zero-sum game: either you get it 100% or 0%. This is simply not true.



      If you're having a hard time making sense of what the other person (maybe a native speaker) is saying, don't be discouraged. More importantly, DON'T stop listening and thinking!



      In home economics, there's a saying that goes: "There won't be a dollar without a cent." This is true in Listening as well. Just because you can't make sense of what someone is saying in English, you don't have to drop everything and throw away the few things that you do hear. Instead, concentrate on them and gather as much as you can.



       Think about the context 


(*context = the situation around the speaker) 


      and try to connect the separate words that you can catch. Then try and fill the gaps that you don't hear.



     Why? Because, believe it or not, that's what everybody's doing - even the native speakers. 









Step # 3:  Speak, Speak, Speak




      Practice.



     This step is connected to #1. Because of your ex-school's wrong way of teaching grammar, you have unconsciously developed a dislike of practice and real application. Somehow, you believe that English is a skill that's best used only within the four corners of your classroom - or quietly by yourself. And because you've undergone years and years of training like this, it's a tough habit to break.



   This step goes deep down to your inner confidence. You've got to learn to surmount the shyness and the voice inside your head that keeps on telling you: "You'll just make a fool of yourself!"



     If you can't overcome this, then you won't be able to learn English. Remember: English is a language, a form of communication meant to be practiced together with other people.









Step # 4: Learn Vocabulary by heart




      Learning Vocabulary by heart means you should stop cramming your head with the translation of English words in your native language. No matter how many words you memorize everyday - 50, 100, 200! - they're all useless if you don't know what type of word you're learning, how to use it in a sentence etc.



   Non-native speakers of English are known for mechanically memorizing a lot of information. But in terms of the long-term goals of language-learning, it isn't so much the quantity that counts, only the quality.








Step # 5: Accept What You Can't Understand



    Eventually, you'll have to admit that some expressions and parts of English don't have the perfect grammar explanation that you're looking for. For example, idioms, infinitives vs. gerunds etc. You'll just waste a lot of time trying to find and force a logical, iron-clad rule. 



     Of course you should try your best to learn Grammar, but also keep in mind that the God of Grammar doesn't have the answer to everything. In those cases when grammar doesn't work, start repeating the sentence and expression. Pretty soon you'll realize that you're getting comfortable with it and you don't really need a grammar explanation to use it. 





FINALLY, stop looking for a "silver bullet" technique that'll let you learn English overnight. There is no such thing.



Every learner is different. What works for you won’t work for another and vice versa.



There are too many English-learning techniques out there that promise the best results. But what it all comes down to is: You as an individual learner.



Do you have what it takes - the dedication and the patience - to get to the finish line?



Keep on learning !










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