The Best Tool for Learning English.
“What’s the best way to learn English?” This is a question that I often get asked, and one with no perfect answer. Today I’d like to share an article that talks about one of the most important techniques for learning a language – making lots of mistakes! Not what you were expecting, right? Below are the key points that I’ve drawn from the article, mixed with some of my own thoughts.
1. Balance your learning.
Language learning requires two main pieces: exposure – listening and reading, and producing –speaking and writing. We need to make sure to do a good mix of both for the most effective outcome.
2. Be open to correction.
We need an open attitude towards corrective feedback. Don’t get discouraged when your mistakes are pointed out.
3. Don’t compare yourself to a native.
Trying to be exactly like a native speaker is an unrealistic goal. An 18-year-old native English speaker has had approximately 78,000 of language exposure, use, and correction. Languages are hugely expansive and constantly changing, which means even native speakers don’t know everything!
4. Find a language partner.
It can be a person you know in Yongkang or someone you find online. The key is that you find someone who is willing to practice with you on a regular basis. A native speaker is ideal, but a group of Chinese friends is also an option.
5. Expand and refine. Ask the question, “how do you say this in English?” frequently. Describe words you don’t know with smaller words that you do know. Pay attention to how others use to talk about ideas you find difficult to express.
6. Talk about subjects you like.
Nothing is worse than saying “let’s practice English” and then sitting in silence because you don’t know what to say. If you’re excited about a certain topic, you’ll talk more. The more you talk, the more mistakes you will make, and the more chances for correction and learning you will have.
7. Stay positive. Laugh about embarrassing mistakes. For foreigners learning Chinese, the four tones are always difficult to learn. I once asked my coworkers about how much the 菲佣 were.Actually I was actually trying to say 费用. I got some funny looks on that one!
Like I always say, never stop practicing. Communicating in a foreign language is risky, but it’s also rewarding. Don’t confuse mistakes with failure. As Albert Einstein once said, “anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”