Accept That English is a Weird Language
Sometimes you can find patterns in English grammar, but other times English doesn’t make sense at all. For example, why are “read” (reed) and “read” (red) the same word, but pronounced differently depending on whether you’re speaking in the past or present tense? Or why is “mice” the plural of “mouse”, but “houses” is the plural of “house”? Unfortunately, there are just as many exceptions as there are rules in English. It’s easy to get stuck on learning how to speak English properly, if you try to find a reason for everything. Sometimes English is weird and unexplainable, so instead the best thing to do is just memorize the strange exceptions and move on.
Dive into the Deep End
Studying English for an hour once a week isn’t usually enough to make any real progress. The best way to quickly improve your English is to spend at least a few minutes practicing every day. Immerse yourself as much as possible every time you study, and challenge yourself to listen to, read, and even say things in English that you think might be too difficult for you. If you want to speak English fluently, you need to make it an essential part of your everyday life.
Stop Being a Student
The right attitude can make the difference between failure and success. Stop thinking of yourself as someone who is learning English, and start thinking of yourself as someone who speaks English. It’s a small change, but it will make you feel more confident and help you to use the English you already know more effectively. This also means you need to start thinking in English. If you want to say the word “apple” in English, for example, right now you probably think of the word in your native language first, and then try to think of the correct word in English. Instead, try imagining a picture of an apple, and then just think the English word “apple”. Real fluency happens when you stop mentally translating conversations.
The Answer is in the Question
Listen carefully when someone asks you a question in English and you’ll answer perfectly every time. English questions are like mirrors:
Does he…..? Yes, he does.
Can she….? Yes, she can.
Is it….? Yes, it is.8
If someone asks you a question and you’re not sure how to answer, start by thinking about the words used in the question. The person has already said most of the words you need to make your answer. Instead of just memorizing English grammar, start to look for patterns like this one. There are a lot of simple ways to “cheat” and make it easier to remember the right words.
Get More Out of Listening
When most students listen to a native English-speaker, they focus on understanding what all the words mean. This is definitely important, but there is a lot more you can learn from listening. Try listening not just to what the words mean, but to how the person says them. Notice which words the person links together in a sentence, or when they say “ya” instead of “you”. Try to remember these details the next time you speak and your English will begin to sound more natural.
Easier said than done, right? When you listen to native English speakers, it can be hard to understand every single word that is spoken. They might use many words you don’t know, talk too fast or have a strong accent.
A fantastic way to practice careful, active listening is to start using FluentU. FluentU has a huge collection of real world English videos, so you can hear the English that people speak every day.
Once you’re there, how you learn is entirely up to you. While browsing our hundreds of awesome videos, you’ll have the freedom to choose which ones are most relevant to your personal learning experience.