Once upon a time there was an Italian woman in her forties who wanted to learn English. Maria was a widow and found herself with some money after her husband died prematurely. He wanted to travel to the UK, but had only a few notions of English grammar learned in school. So she bought herself an English language course on CD and started to parrot everything that came out of the recording. After a few months, he booked a low-cost flight to London. She landed at Stansted airport and managed to buy a one-way bus ticket to Victoria Station, with the help of a retired couple who also headed for the center. But once in the city, Maria ran into a great source of frustration: she could not understand and speak with the people she met.
Welcome to the era of English as a global language. Few people speak like the queen and nobody is exempt from grammatical errors. If you are a beginner or a basic level adult teacher, here you will find seven tips to easily learn English , which I also shared with Maria. Each tip starts with one of the letters of the word ‘English’, to make it easier to memorize.
1 – Essential: daily exercise
Learning a foreign language is like going to the gym. You can only strengthen your muscles if you train daily. The same thing happens with languages: practice pays off.
Straight: devote 15 minutes a day to English. You can listen to music or watch videos, read a book, watch movies on the internet, play games on your mobile phone or find yourself together with a native speaker for a language exchange.
2 – Not just words
Usually beginners feel more confident in listening to single words and repeating them, as when showing flashcards to children. But this practice is not as useful for adults, who would like to feel confident and speak fluently when it comes to having a conversation with a native speaker. If you learn expressions or idioms, it will be easier to create whole sentences and thus have a more natural oral communication.
Straight: start learning locations right away. ‘Having breakfast’ is different from ‘making breakfast’. The first means that you have breakfast, while the second means you prepare it.
3 – Grit!
Keep trying always. Whenever you start doing something new, the time comes when you may think you want to give up. But as the saying goes, “if you don’t succeed at the first: try again, try again and try again.” To keep yourself motivated, remember why you wanted to learn English. For example, a student of mine had a granddaughter whose mother was English. Both her granddaughter and daughter-in-law lived in the UK, so she wanted to learn the language to communicate with them.
Straight: take note of your most frequent mistakes. Go over them well to never repeat them. And anyway, remember that you don’t have to be afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes are not a negative testament to your intellectual abilities. They are a fundamental part of the process of learning a new skill.
4 – The labeling technique
Two famous television advertisements around the internet, one from a brand of whiskey and the other from an online auction site, show two seniors who begin to learn English for two different reasons . In both videos there is a technique that I consider essential for learning new words: labeling. The two elderly people put a label on every object in the house and this allows them to help them memorize things that belong to daily life.
Straight: label everything you want to learn. Use colored post-its: you can associate each color with a distinct category of objects. For example, you can use green post-its for home appliances.
5 – Expand your knowledge
There is nothing better than involving your family and friends in the learning process. For this challenge you need moral support: the more there is, the more peaceful you will feel. As soon as you show others what you’ve learned, they’ll be surprised.
Straight: record a video in which you introduce yourself and describe your family and friends in English. Do it every week, and if after a month you look at them, you will see how much your level of English will have improved.
6 – Set goals
You have chosen a specific language sector and you want to deepen it. Setting goals to learn the language of that sector can help. For example, if you want to go shopping in an English-speaking country, you will need to know phrases like “where are the dressing rooms?” or “can I pay by credit card?”.
Straight: keep a journal in which to write what you would like to learn in seven days. At the end of the week, check if you have reached the goal.
7 – And don’t forget to have fun!
Being a beginner is not easy at all. It takes little to feel inadequate and frustrated. Often there are people who try to learn English , but who immediately give up because they feel discouraged. Study hours must be made fun. If positive feelings are associated with the learning process, then everything will be much simpler.
Straight: if you make mistakes, laugh! The important thing is to have fun and try again.
Learning English is not a walk . It is difficult and demanding. However, I am convinced that being able to express yourself in a foreign language is one of the most exciting and significant challenges there are. What is felt when others understand what you say is simply extraordinary. But in the end, what happened to Maria? Well, after a couple of months during which she attended my English course, and followed all these tips, she became much more confident. Now she can understand the basics when people speak them in English about topics like family, work and travel. He is able to describe past experiences and events, his routine and future projects. And most important of all, she moved to London where she found love.