Make English Learning Fun!
"I want to speak English fluently. What's the trick?"
This question gets asked again and again. And everyone has a different answer - watch TV with subtitles, move to an English-speaking country, learn vocabulary first and then grammar, learn grammar first and then vocabulary,... and the list goes on and on.
For me, there are different answers because every person is different. For example, I studied math, so I like to look at the grammar of a new language as mathematical formula to figure out. I did this with German when I moved to Berlin, and it worked well. However, when I tell people that I majored in math at college, they often reply "I hate math," so I know that isn't the path for them.
But in the end, I think the most important part of your English learning plan is:
It isn't that important exactly WHAT you do. It's important HOW OFTEN you do it. You need to consume the language (read or listen) and produce the language (write or speak) regularly.
You might say "Great Nick. But how do we do that?" Here is a list of:
7 Ways to get English into your Everyday Life
Reddit is one of the most popular websites in the world – the two main parts of Reddit are sharing information (links, photos, videos) and discussion. It’s divided into thousands of smaller groups called subreddits, which can be focused on any sort of topic (for example: funny photos, political news, the TV show Modern Family, the New York Yankees baseball team, playing the video game Halo,…). You then join as many of these smaller subreddits as you want, and then you can read the information they share and also write your own comments.
Luckily for you, most of the subreddits are in English! There are constantly new things being posted to Reddit, so you will never run out of interesting and funny things to read.
But make sure that you are also posting your own comments to the discussion! Practicing your writing is really important if you want to improve your English.
SET YOUR DEVICES TO ENGLISH
This is an easy one, but set any devices you can (your phone, your computer, etc.) and any accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Email, etc.) to English when you can. That will keep you seeing English more often. And if you ever don’t understand something really important (from your bank, for example), you can usually easily switch it back to your native language.
LIVE WITH SOMEONE WHO ONLY SPEAKS ENGLISH
I know that this is quite difficult. However, if you live in a big, international city, it might be possible.
How did I learn German so well? One reason is that I had a German roommate for 3 years, and we only spoke German to each other. That meant that almost every day I would speak at least a little bit of German, and some days we would have really long conversations of a coffee or some beer in the kitchen.
And you can do the same thing with English! So if you are looking for a roommate or a new place to live, don’t be afraid to select someone from a different culture – it doesn’t matter if they are a native English speaker, as long as English is your only common language. You also have the added benefit of learning about their culture!
Taking regular one-on-one English lessons will keep you on track as well. The key is finding a teacher that keeps the lessons interesting for you. You want to enjoy this experience, because then you will keep doing it every week.
I offer such lessons online via Skype, and if you’d like to try them out, send me an email at Nick@EnglishWithNick.de or click here for more information.
If you are watching American TV shows, you should always try to find them in the original English language. It isn’t the most efficient way to learn, but if you are watching them anyway, it does help.
And if you watch any of these shows, I’ve created episode guides that help you focus more on the learning aspect of it:
JOIN COUCHSURFING, MEETUP, OR INTERNATIONS
I’ve written about this before, but going to Couchsurfing.com meetings is a great way to practice your English. And once you are a part of the community and make friends at the events, you will be speaking English whenever you hang out with them.
In reality, any English speaking group works – http://www.meetup.com, http://www.internations.org, or whatever. The most important thing, though, is to avoid groups that are just about English learning. Those tend to be boring and people often quit after a while, since there is nothing to hold those people together outside of a desire to learn English. Find a group that you would go to even if you weren’t improving your English there.
Podcasts are great for improving your English for a couple of reasons –
you can find something that you find interesting
they come out every week so there is always new content
Just a warning – they are often difficult for beginners and lower intermediate students to understand, so only start with these if you are upper intermediate or advanced.
This is the best set of books for learning English. Why?
- It’s a great story that will keep you wanting to read.
- It develops along with the learner – the first books are easier than the last books.
- It has movies, so you can watch the movie first if you want to get an idea of the story.
- You might have read it in your native language, so you already understand the story.
- It’s a lot of content. Over 3,000 pages. So you have lots of words to read.
- Repeated words – because the settings are the same, you will se a lot of repeat words that will stick in your mind.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what books you read, as long as you continue reading them. I love Harry Potter and have read each book and seen each movie multiple times. You should give it a try and maybe you will be as excited as I am.
In the end, it doesn't matter how you learn. It matters HOW OFTEN you learn. So find something that you are passionate about and really enjoy doing that also happens to involve the English language. That way you will continue doing it for weeks, months, and even years. That's where you see the real improvement.
English Lessons You Can Do Right Now