The English language is the most common language for all forms of communication across the globe – it connects people of different countries and communities. In the modern day, knowing English is becoming a necessity. Learning a language can be challenging and there are difficulties to overcome; however, it is important that we don’t create barriers for ourselves that will hinder our progress. Read on to discover some of the things you should and shouldn't do to help you while learning English (or another language).
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Mistakes are an essential part of learning and have their purpose – we learn from them. Don’t be ashamed when someone corrects you, but take note of what was wrong so you won’t repeat it in the future. You will need a lot of practice to become fluent in English and that comes with a lot of effort and making many mistakes. Do not silence yourself because you are afraid of making mistakes - you will only slow down your learning. Remember: stay positive. It is easy to think about all of the mistakes you made, but chances are, you did more things right than wrong.
Don’t feel discouraged by your English pronunciation
Yes, the English language can feel overwhelming once you notice that everything is written and spoken differently. However, there are some rules to pronunciation that will help you understand how it all works. You can always check how a word is pronounced and then repeat it until it becomes more familiar. It takes practice, but listening to television or music can make it easier to recognize the sounds of different words and pair it with the appropriate written form. If you struggle with a word, try to slow down and say it slowly until it becomes easier.
Don’t suffocate yourself with grammar
Grammar rules are part of every language and just like in other languages, there are harder and easier aspects of grammar. For example, in English, you don’t have to conjugate verbs as is the case in many languages across the globe. You also don’t necessarily have to know everything there is to know about English grammar to have a conversation. Grammar is certainly very important, but it isn't everything. Think of it this way: knowing grammar is like knowing the rules of a game. You have to know the rules to play the game correctly. But just knowing the rules does not make you a good player. In order to play well, you must practice.
Don’t translate things to or from your native language
Translating can be a part of early stages in learning a language. However, once you have a good grasp of basic vocabulary, you should stop thinking in your own language and stop trying to translate things into English. Why? Because the English language is full of phrases, and translating the exact meaning will often and very likely reduce the phrasal sentences to nonsense. Don’t feel embarrassed if you do not understand the meaning of a word or a phrase; look it up online or ask someone who will know the meaning and explain it to you.
Don’t believe that you can only immerse yourself in the language by living abroad
To surround yourself in a language no longer means you must be in a foreign country where that language is dominant. Nowadays, we have many ways to practice speaking online, for example you can join a Skype class and learn English by conversing with native speakers. Immersion has less to do with your location than your environment. So, you can create an excellent learning environment by surrounding yourself with language learning aides such as music, TV shows or movies in English.
Don’t get frustrated when listening to native speakers
You will most likely be overwhelmed by the speed at which native speakers speak. Don’t feel discouraged; even if you understand words written on a page it will take a little time to get accustomed to the flow of spoken English. I like to refer to it as “the music of a language”. By exposing yourself to English, by listening to conversations or watching movies, you will start to recognize separate words in sentences. Eventually, as you get used to the flow, you will be able to recognize all of the words used.
Don’t give up
Beginnings are usually hard, but do not get discouraged – keep working and it will become easier once you familiarize yourself with the basic rules of the English language. Remember, to get better you must keep practicing. Also, don’t worry about what others might think of your speaking abilities. You will only get better by practicing, even if you make a few mistakes. Learning a language is a process that requires dedication, willingness and patience. It is okay if something takes you longer to understand or you need more time to practice. Everyone has their own pace at which they learn most comfortably.
I hope that these tips will help you overcome some of the struggles that you may encounter on your journey to master the English language. Just remember, lots of practice and do not give up!