As a teacher, I’m often asked many questions during the course of the day. However, one of most recurring questions that my students ask me is; how can I improve my English? Many students have asked me this and I always provide them with similar advice.
There are 4 mains skills for most languages: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Therefore, this blog post will provide students (or teachers to give advice to their students) with helpful advice to improve their English by looking at these 4 skills individually.
You’ll notice that the main theme throughout this advice is: practice. The more you do something the better you will become at it and English is no different.
If you want to improve your reading skills, you need to read more! It really is that simple! However, students often find texts in their course books irrelevant and boring.
As a teacher, I always try to persuade my students to read more outside of their normal lessons and also try to provide texts for them to read that they will find interesting inside of the class. Always read something that you are interested in because you will enjoy reading it!
Moreover, have a dictionary to hand and look up the words that you don’t understand. Dictionaries, however, won’t help you to understand some phrases in English. If possible, look up these phrases online or write them down to ask their meaning from your teacher.
You don’t need to read a lot, just read a few paragraphs everyday and you’ll notice your reading skills improve dramatically. If you get to advanced levels of English, you might want to look into finding some good books and novels that are of interest to you and aim to read as much as possible.
The same applies to writing. If you want to improve your writing skills, you need to write more! I always suggest to my students to keep a diary or journal and try to write in it every day. Write as much as you can in just 10-15 minutes.
Depending on your level of English, you will find that this might just be a few sentences, a few paragraphs or even a few pages.
Try to practice past, present and future in your journal by writing about what you did that day, what you are feeling or thinking about as you’re writing and any plans that you might have for the following day.
Continuing with the theme of practice, you want to make sure that you speak more English if you want to improve you speaking skills. One of the problems a lot of my students face is that they don’t have anybody to practice with! So here are a few ideas to get speaking.
There are many ways you can practice English speaking. Use one of the many chat programs (like Skype)where you can meet people and speak to them online (be careful and stay safe, especially if you’re a younger learner).
I notice that as soon as my students leave class, they immediately speak their native language to each other, so I tell them to try to use English when they’re talking with their class mates both inside and outside of school.
Finally, I tell them that they can always try talking to themselves! This usually gets me some strange looks, but it’s a great way to practice pronunciation!
By this stage, I’m sure you can guess! If you want to improve your listening skills, listen to more English!
There are many places where you can listen to English. Most people can get English speaking TV stations or shows at home or even English speaking radio stations where they live. If you can, watch TV in English or listen to the radio.
Failing this, you might be able to find English DVDs where you live and the added bonus with these are that you can use the subtitles to help you understand if you find it difficult. Just listen to as much English as possible and you’ll soon improve your listening skills.
Image “Tablet Computer With Books” by Adamr courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net