How to learn English, how to study English, how to speak English well.
Hi, I'm James, from DeluxeEnglish.com. I help people become better English speakers.
Today, I'm going to tell you a story. In this story, you'll learn how to become better at speaking English.
This story is about two different people learning English... Mike and Kate.
Now Mike and Kate were good friends. They both wanted to travel the world, wanted to have good jobs, and wanted to understand and be good at speaking English.
Let's start with Mike.
Mike learned English a more traditional way. He started learning English at school.
When he was at school, he mainly learned English by reading. Reading allowed him to quickly learn and understand English. He could use his dictionary to easily understand new words. Reading was very convenient. He could slowly read, understand, and translate English into his native language.
However, there were some problems with Mike's method of learning English.
When he spoke English, he sometimes sounded a little strange. Because he didn't hear a lot of English, he sometimes had problems with his pronunciation, tone, and intonation.
Also, when he spoke he would translate from his own language into English. Sometimes he could speak well, but sometimes he paused too much, or would use language that was too formal. He couldn't "think in English."
What was worse, though, was Mike had read many many textbooks, but he couldn't understand English TV shows. He always had to read the subtitles.
Now, let's look at Kate.
Kate, learned English a more natural way.
Kate listened to a lot of English. She would do a lot of listening self study.
At first hearing English was a little difficult, but over time, Kate started to just naturally understand and acquire English.
Over time, Kate stopped translating and started to gradually "think in English", so reading, writing, and speaking all became easier.
Kate's pronunciation, tone, and intonation all sounded very natural. Because she had listened to so much English, she spoke English very well.
Reading helps you to quickly understand English, but it's not a natural process, you need to learn how to read. When you read, you focus on understanding and translating.
Listening is a natural automatic process. Listening is how everybody learns their own native language as babies or children. If you want to become a fluent English speaker, and stop translating, you need to do a lot of listening.
When Mike was at school, he would also learn a lot of vocabulary and study grammar rules.
He would quickly learn lists and lists of words, with the English word and it's translation.
He would also learn the rules of the language. How to make correct sentences. He often had many grammar and vocabulary tests.
But there were problems with this approach. In order to make a sentence in English, Mike first had to make a sentence in his native language, then try to substitute the grammar and vocabulary, by translating.
This made making sentences very slow. Mike would make many pauses when speaking. Sometimes he would forget the words he needed. Sometimes he would confuse words, or mix up the grammar.
I think um I think that um I think that my favourite um my favorite food is chocolate. Something like that.
Kate didn't really study words or grammar, she just listened to thousands of conversations.
In these conversations, she heard many many sentences. She heard thousands of grammatically correct sentences.
As a result, she learned vocabulary and grammar naturally.
When she listened to these sentences she learned how to use words naturally, based on the situation and context of the conversation. As a result, words were easier to remember.
When she spoke English, she spoke more quickly, because she would speak in groups of words, not word pause word.
I think that my favourite food is probably chocolate. Something like that.
Memorizing lists of words in isolation and studying grammar won't help you speak naturally. You'll need to make a sentence in your own language first.
As a result, you'll speak too slowly. And you won't be speaking "real" English. You'll be speaking your language translated into English words and grammar. It will sound too unnatural.
When you were a child you didn't study words and grammar. You heard thousands of sentences in context. That's how you learned grammar and vocabulary.
When Mike was learning English, he wanted to learn English quickly.
He wanted a magic pill that would allow him to speak English fluently straight away.
He didn't want to slowly learn English, he wanted to become advanced quickly.
He also wanted to watch advanced English materials, like TV shows and movies. But he could only understand about 20%, so he always needed to read subtitles.
In addition, he would always try to learn new words and expressions, but still had difficulty understanding English when he listened to native speakers.
On the other hand, Kate would try to hear what she was listening to. She would focus on listening to materials where she could hear and understand about 80% of the situation.
She focused on listening to a lot of English that was at her level, or a little bit higher.
As a result, her listening skills improved naturally over time. After 6 months she could understand most basic conversations. After 12 months she could understand many native speakers, and after 18 months she could start to hear and understand 80% of many TV shows.
If she could hear it, then she could understand it. If she could understand it, then she could learn it.
Kate built a solid foundation.
She didn't read the subtitles, she improved her listening skills so she could understand.
By listening to thousands of sentences, she also heard the most commonly used language over and over again.
She could easily hear and understand, the most commonly used 3,000 words in context. Allowing her to understand spoken English, and English on the TV and radio.
Find material where you can hear and understand 80% or above. Then keep listening repeatedly until you think you can hear and understand all of it.
If you understand between 50% and 79%, then listen and read the script or subtitles.
However, if you need to read the script or subtitles, you're not really hearing it, you're reading.
If you understand under 50%, it's not suitable for you. Choose something else.
A big part of learning English is gradually improving your listening skills. If you can hear English, then you can naturally learn and acquire it.
When Mike learned English he would learn a lot of different subjects from his textbooks.
The seasons, feelings, ordering at restaurants, and so on. He would memorize these words for tests, and put them in his short term memory.
However, after taking the test, he didn't review what he'd previously learned. He wouldn't re-study.
As a result, Mike would often forget most of what he'd learned. If he learned 100 new words a month, without reviewing them, he would forget about 80 of them. He was only remembering about 20% of what he'd learned.
Kate, however, understood that in order to speak English well, she had to consistently review what she'd already learned.
If you can remember the vocabulary, then you can use it naturally.
She would have good habits. She would try to listen to English everyday. She would hear the most commonly used English words and the grammar, spaced over time. She would also use flashcards to help her remember what she'd already learnt.
As a result of this consistent repetition spaced over time, she started to remember words and put them in her long term memory.
It's very difficult to learn English words or phrases once or twice and then move them into your long term memory.
Often it takes us 15 to 20 times to hear them in many different contexts, before we can use them naturally and comfortably.
Consistently listening to English everyday helps you build up your solid foundation of the most commonly used words and grammar.
Part of the battle of learning a language is not forgetting what you've learned. If you can remember it, then you can use it.
When Mike studied English as a beginner, he had a teacher in his native language, explaining English in ways he could understand. That's good.
But when he became an intermediate learner, he still wanted to be taught in his native language, rather than immerse himself in English. As a result he heard a lot more of his native language, rather than English.
In addition, he would learn and listen to a lot of formal and textbook English. He heard voice actors with clear pronunciation, not real people, so he couldn't understand real native speakers when they spoke English quickly.
The worst thing was that Mike couldn't make natural sounding sentences in English. He always had to translate, so many native speakers found it difficult to understand him.
Kate, did things differently, when she became an intermediate learner she tried to listen to real native English speakers from all over the world. She heard American English and British English, she heard different accents and dialects, and she also learned about many English based cultures.
As a result, she could easily understand what most people said when they spoke English. She had no trouble communicating in English with real native speakers.
When you learned your native language you listened to your mother, father, brothers, sisters, teachers, family, shopkeepers, TV, radio, etc. You didn't learn your language using textbooks.
If you listen to English as it's actually used you'll understand a lot more. Listen to real native speakers actually using real natural authentic English.
When Mike first learned English, it was fun and easy. He was really motivated and excited to learn English.
But over time, as he became an intermediate learner, it started to get more difficult, and all of the vocabulary and grammar study was really boring. It wasn't enjoyable anymore.
He felt like he wasn't improving quickly enough.
So he gave up. He never became fluent.
And because he had learned English to pass tests, he was always scared of making mistakes when he spoke English. He was always very embarrassed and avoided situations where he had to use English.
However, Kate understood that in order to become a good English speaker and listener, she needed to "keep going" even though she felt like she was improving slowly.
As a result, she tried to enjoy learning English everyday.
She watched interesting videos of native English speakers and she tried to enjoy slowly acquiring the language naturally.
She understood that people learn differently, and there was no magic pill. She would diligently listen to English almost everyday.
She didn't care about making mistakes. The more mistakes she made the better she became. She tried to "just speak naturally."
Overall, it took her about 2 years of consistently listening to English everyday to become a fluent speaker.
Have fun. Learn how to enjoy learning English.
If you enjoy English, you'll keep going. If you keep going, then you'll become a better English speaker and listener.
Thanks for listening to my story about Mike and Kate.
If you want to become a good English speaker and listener, try to remember these 6 things.
Or in other words,
Listen to real native speakers speaking English.
Hear, understand and learn the most commonly used language (Sentences in context).
Keep going. Don't give up. There's no magic pill. Learning English naturally takes time.
After a while, you'll start to gradually think in English and you'll be able to "Just speak naturally."
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