With the new year coming, it’s time to start considering some resolutions! If English is high on this year’s list, here are some useful tips for getting your English up to scratch!
Learn actively rather than passively.
Everyone now seems to watch Netflix with English subtitles or without – which is great but not really that helpful. UNLESS . . . you actively write down some of the words and expressions you hear and then use them yourself! The rule of thumb is that if you use a word 3 times when speaking, it becomes YOURS – meaning part of your active language rather than your passive knowledge.
Use English outside your comfort zone.
Having taught at dozens of offices around Poland, we have come to see a strange phenomenon. Each office seems to have a special room where English is used, and once the people leave the room, they immediately go back to their mother tongue. Most, if not all, of your colleagues are in the same boat as you, so use the opportunity to speak with them in English. It may seem awkward at first, but you’ll get used to it and definitely gain confidence. You do it every day when you have to, right? Plus, it can be fun!
Be your own grammar and spelling check.
The tools everyone seems to use are, of course, helpful. But you can learn so much if you turn them off and try to do it yourself. Spend a bit of time, check first by yourself and only then go and see what the suggested changes are. Surely, you’ll learn quite a lot this way.
Think in English.
Find some time each day where you actively try to THINK in English. I mean, not frantically typing stuff in English but sit back and THINK about what you want to say and how you want to say it – for emails, presentations, upcoming meetings, etc . . . This will help you to feel more comfortable when you are then actually doing the tasks themselves.
Read tongue twisters out loud.
It is very helpful to improve pronunciation. The point is not to read them quickly, but to read them slowly while focusing on how you shape the words in your mouth. Any given tongue twister focuses on a particular sound which gives you the opportunity to focus on it in isolation. One of the pleasures of teaching English is to see students’ faces light up when they realize that they have the potential to sound like native speakers by being aware of the phonetic sounds/letters that comprise the sound of any given word.
Also, reading aloud in general can help build understanding of a language as well as understanding how the language works in terms of word order and sentence stress. Also, when reading aloud, one’s mother tongue will not be the one in the readers’ mind. The sound of their voice and the foreign words will be all that is heard.
*BONUS TIP FOR KIDS*
Every parent wants their kids to learn English. Classes, private and at school, are fine but limited. If the parents speak English, why not do it with kids? Pick a room at home, an hour a day, or a day a week when you only speak with them in English! They may look at you like you’re crazy for a bit but, if you persist, I can promise they’ll make clear progress.