Like any language, how fast you learn depends on what level of determination you’re going to put into it. All learners progress at their own pace, but I believe that with the right support and guidance, everyone can excel. Below, I’ve provided five important guidelines you should follow to maximize your language adoption:
- Stop worrying about what other people think
The most important thing you can do to learn faster is get past your fear. Recognize that no one expects you to speak flawlessly. On the contrary, most people will appreciate your attempt to speak their language. Moreover, unless you make mistakes, you’ll never know what you need to work on. Mistakes are an important part of the learning process.
- Read voraciously (a lot!)
Nothing will give you a better understanding of word patterns and vocabulary than reading. I recommend you subscribe to Google News in English, and read the news every day. You should also check out online magazines on topics that interest you, and books. If you’re at the beginner level, read kid’s books. Otherwise, get yourself the latest fiction paperback and read it, cover to cover. As you read, highlight words and expressions you don’t understand, and use a dictionary.
- Learn TONS of vocabulary
Carry a notebook with you everywhere you go, and write down things you see that you don’t understand. Later on when you have time, open your dictionary and figure out their meanings. Try to learn the names of every object in your house, at your office, and on the street. Go to the supermarket and learn the words for every food item. Here are the “top 100 verbs” and here are “top 100 adjectives”. Practice making sentences combining verbs, adjectives and your new vocabulary.
4 Keep a diary.
You will amaze yourself with your progress, and that will drive you forward. Every night, write one or two paragraphs about your day. Write about new things you learned and make a list of your learning goals for the next day and for the next week. As you progress, cross off the things you have finished.
Find a local group of learners, outside of school, to practice with. Here in Barranquilla, there are many such groups that exist. Or, create your own. Simply find a couple of other people who are learning English, and set a place and time to meet. It’s a good idea to focus on a topic for each meeting. It could be about learning a new grammar concept, or for more advanced conversation, you could select a story from your daily the news-reading. You should also join an online learners’ group for support, such as this one.
In summary, learning doesn’t have to be difficult. But it is a lot of work. You should approach it like a job; set a specific amount of time each day specifically for learning, and just do it! Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions; I’ll be glad to help!