Top 5 Tips to Help Improve Your English

Set concrete goals high

Set concrete goals high

 

  1. Establish short term and long term goals why you are learning English.

Ask yourself:

  • What are the reasons I want to learn English?
  • What will I do with the language?
  • Do you need to travel abroad or to the United States?
  • Do you plan to attend graduate school?
  • Do you want to speak with your friends who are English-speakers?
  • Do you want to use English in running a business?

Self-Reflection:

  • Whatever your reasons, consider why learning English is most important to you.
  • Write down your goals.
  • Make a chart that you can refer to daily to inspire you to move forward.
  • Consider how long you will need to study.
  • What exact skills do you need to improve in the language?
  • How will you get from point A (where you are now) to point B (your destination i.e. your short term or long term goal)?
  • How will you know when you are able to meet your goal?
  • What is going to happen when you reach your objective(s)?

 

  1. Try a new strategy

How long have you been studying test-taking in English? 1-2 years? If you feel your language level has not continued to improve week by week, try a new technique. For instance, if you are studying from a book, try something different. At times, if you feel stagnant, making a change in the manner in which you learn will help to improve your language skills. Doubtless, change will help you grow.

  • Listen to English podcasts
  • Listen only to English music on your phone when you are relaxing
  • Get a native English coach
  • Enroll in an English course online
  • Watch English TV
  • Watch (international) news only in English
  • Meet a native speaker online to do a language exchange by the web
  • Meet an English-speaking colleague/friend
  • Join an English study group
  • Join a college course online that is in English

 

  1. Never give up. Learning a language requires practice. Take runners, for example, who do not run a marathon without training; they put in months or more of training. If you keep trying, and if you continue to practice English, you can master academic skills in reading, listening, speaking, writing, and vocabulary. To be inspired, think of yourself in a marathon. What you can do each day to get you to reach your goal .Keep telling yourself you will get there to a major accomplishment with these minor achievements. The days or moments you feel frustrated while you are learning, remember not to give up hope. Believe in yourself and your abilities. If you keep putting in extra effort into language learning, the next study day you will feel more comfortable, confident, and fluent. When you feel down, think about the last thing you learned, and pat yourself on the back for having learned that. Encourage yourself to keep going forward.

 

  1. Be positive about the learning process. Mastering English does not happen overnight, so be patient with yourself. Avoid putting yourself down with negative thoughts. If you hear yourself in your head saying, “I’ll never be fluent in English,” immediately switch those negative words to positive encouragement. Tell yourself, instead, “Even though it’s a new language, if I keep studying, I’ll learn more each day” or “Though a lot of new vocabulary is challenging, I can accomplish learning more if I keep studying day by day.” Stay positive in your mind, because in this way you will learn English more quickly.

 

  1. Harbor no fear about making minor errors in English. In fact, being fearful of making mistakes can stop you from learning quickly. If you sometimes avoid speaking with native speakers because you lack confidence, you can change your attitude to be more confident. Stop being fearful of producing mistakes since it is natural to make errors when using another language. When people speak other languages, mistakes arise. You will only get better in another language the more you practice it and the more confidence you feel about your abilities.

 

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Why Am I Not Improving English?

Woman Writing in Daily Planner

Avoid translating

  1. You are translating from your native language into English. That’s a big “no-no.” Avoid translating from your first language into English. You can speed up your progress in English if you simply focus on listening to English and catch the words you understand. Use the context to guess understanding. For instance, if someone says, “There will be a big shin dig this Friday night.” Imagine you don’t know the word shin dig. Don’t translate it. Just imagine what those words could mean in terms of happening on Friday night: a feast, a reception, a get together, a dance, or a dinner party.

 

  1. You are not practicing enough English speaking with a native. Dedicate enough study time to make advancements. Don’t expect to study English only a half hour per week and improve rapidly. Intensive language learning of a few set hours every weekday can expand your progress. When you do have a set study session in-person with a native speaker, don’t forget to speak. Sometimes, when you are conversing with someone in another language, it’s easy to just listen, but you won’t learn English faster if you don’t practice participating more in the conversation. So, the more you converse, the more you will learn to communicate better in English. If you spoke English just one time today, next time or tomorrow, try to speak two times. Of course, the more often you practice speaking, you can improve your confidence and your fluency in the language.

 

  1. You lack confidence in your English abilities. How can you improve in the language if you do not believe in yourself? Be confident that you are learning, and you will acquire more language skills day by day. Avoid saying, “Sorry,” if you don’t feel confident using English fluently yet with a native speaker. If you come across a new word/phrase/express, you can always ask a native speaker, “What does (~phrase) mean?” Just because you may not be familiar with idiomatic expressions or advanced vocabulary, you don’t need to apologize if you are not at the highest level. Remember that you are trying. Give yourself a break because you are learning a language. Keep trying your best, be confident that you will learn more and more. No doubt, you will learn more vocabulary as you progress to a higher level.

 

  1. You are not listening to a sufficient amount of English daily. Perhaps you do not understand enough of what you listen to. Let’s say that you comprehend only about 65%. This is particularly a concern if you live in a foreign country (a non-English speaking place) and do not have access to listening to speakers of English face-to-face. Solution: get a native trainer online or in-person, or listen to English on the web. Practice listening to English every day to train your ears to focus on words you already know in English and listen for word chunks, phrases, which you may be familiar with to comprehend the context. Avoid listening just for grammar. You won’t be able to attain fluency by picking apart a conversation through grammar points. Stop trying to catch single words. Neither will you be capable of advanced fluency if you are concentrating only on individual words in a dialogue. You need to listen for how phrases are grouped together in a pattern. You can listen to music, television, or movies to gain more fluency and understanding. Tell your ears they must listen to English phrases, understand English in context, and capture the bigger picture, the overall meaning.

 

  1. You forgot what you already studied in previous lessons. If you are not remembering your intake, then taking notes on what you learned during your study sessions will help you review and keep the knowledge fresh. For example, keep an English notebook for acquiring more information. In your journal (digital or paper,) you can take note of phrases that are new that you can learn. Then, try to use these new groups of words if you think of it in context. If you write down only the vocabulary word, you may not understand in the future how to use it in context, so try to catch an entire phrase. Later, when you review your notebook, the whole phrase will serve as a reminder of the meaning in context. Consequently, it will be much easier to recall. Furthermore, it will be a base for you to move up to the next level.

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What to Do on TOEFL Test Day

Vision Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.

  1. Be sure you are well-rested and have gotten at least a good night’s sleep before your test. That means that you should have slept between 6-8 hours the night before. If you have slept well, you are much more likely to recall what you have studied and highly likely to perform better and get a high score than if you don’t sleep much at all.
  2. Stay in a positive mindset to remain calm. If you feel relaxed, you will be able to focus successfully on each question and in each section. If you feel anxiety, take a slow breath and inhale deeply. Simply put any worried thoughts out of your mind to stay in a “mentally successful zone.”
  3. When it is possible, try to position your seat in the exam room at the front since you probably will be less-distracted by others around. In that spot, you will also hear the recording better for the listening parts.
  4. Before jumping in, be sure you understand the directions, and if you need to, ask the examiner whatever you are not sure about.
  5. Prior to starting, know how you will manage your time adequately and make a decision about how long to spend on every question. Time management is one of the keys to finishing well.
  6. Read every question carefully. The most common error is for students to read quickly, so read the directions and understand what you will need to do. Often because they do not read carefully enough, this hampers the process.
  7. Answer carefully, and if there is any time at the end of the exam, you can read through your responses. Statistics show that your first answer is often the correct one, so remember to only change an answer if you actually see an error.
  8. First, be sure and answer the easy questions initially since it will boost your confidence and certainly save you time later in the game.
  9. Avoid losing time on any challenging questions that you are unable to answer. Furthermore, if you are unable to respond to a question, go to the next question and come back to the one you missed later on if time is available. If you waste much time on one question, you might lose your confidence.