Become a virtuoso of the English language

Obviously, there are many ways to learn something, including a language. I often get asked what the best way to learn a language is.

My simple answer is: practice.

To learn a musical instrument, hours and hours of practice are generally required. You can learn to read sheet music, know music theory, but in the end, practice makes perfect!

In my experience as a teacher, I constantly encounter people who have spent years studying English but can’t speak. Usually, their reading and writing are better than their verbal communication skills. And why is that you might ask? Well, mainly because they’ve spent time practicing in a classroom environment it’s often easier to focus on these.

The main competencies of a communicating in a language are speaking, listening, reading and writing.
In my opinion, grammar is not a competency, it’s just a means to an end. Although there is some crossover between these, you’ve got to practice each skill. If you can read, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to understand people speaking. If you want to speak, you’ve got to start speaking!

Another important factor is motivation.
If you have some motivation that keeps you learning it helps! When I first lived in Spain, my motivation was to be able to survive. I needed to buy things in shops to be able to eat! It helps if you get the rewards of your motivation! If you don’t use the language, learning mainly the theory, then it’s hard to sustain the motivation, since completion of the feedback loop is missing. Therefore, you don’t receive the energy back from your efforts. Passing an exam is one thing, getting the badge for example that you passed a certain level playing a musical instrument or swam a certain distance, but it’s not quite the same as the joy of playing the instrument or swimming in the sea! Many people don’t experience the pleasure of actually being able to use a language.

If you think about it, language learning is built-in! Our brains are wired for it.
Children learn their mother tongue before getting to school. The capacity to learn a language is naturally present. So if it’s already built-in, maybe it also has a way of functioning, which we can work with, rather than forcing it to work in another way. And how do children learn? The process is based on imitation. Firstly, they receive a lot of input. They try to make sense of what they are receiving and then attempt to construct their own words and sentences. They don’t read a grammar book. They try. They are willing to make mistakes. They don’t have many inhibitions. A child doesn’t think, oh, I’m not going to saying anything unless I can form it all perfectly. They just try to communicate, get feedback and adjust their language accordingly.

Above all, I think it’s important to enjoy the process.
It’s much more difficult to learn something if you don’t enjoy it. You’re likely to start and then stop very soon. So ensure you find ways of using the English language and to make the process of learning enjoyable!

sspanchalAcerca de sspanchal

I am a qualified English Teacher with a TEFL qualification from International House, London. I have helped many people, both adults, and children, to improve their English. Starting at whatever level they are at, taking what they already know and building on it.

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