Basic ways to improve your English!

May 04, 2012

Hi guys!

Another helpful English blog (I hope).

Today we’re going to look at some very important aspects of English language learning which I feel everyone should bear in mind when they take a course. As a teacher, I often find that students make unnecessary mistakes based on not learning basic skills. Often, I teach upper-intermediate students who don’t know how to pronounce –ed, which is something that you should learn at pre-intermediate level. Also, people often don’t learn their irregular verbs, even basic ones.

What I’m trying to say is that the classroom is for practising skills, error correction and learning things which you can’t get from a book.

Let’s take the example of verb tenses. Learning how to use English verb tenses can be difficult. Very difficult. It takes a lot of practice, a lot of input from the teacher, and a lot of patience. On the other hand, learning the form of a verb is easy and you should do it outside the classroom. A sportsman would say that you need to control the controllables.

So, if you’re a student between pr-intermediate to advanced, here is a list of things which you should concentrate on outside of the classroom.

  1. Phonetics. Do you know phonemes? You should, because if you ever look up a word in a dictionary then it will give you the pronunciation of the word in phonetics. There are lots of resources online, or I recommend the text book English File. It does  a very good explanation. Learn them, then use them.

  2. Pronunciation of –ed and –es. I did a blog on this earlier so perhaps you could look at that. They are the biggest pronunciation problem that people have.

  3. Verb forms. Do you know how to form the present continuous? What about the future continuous passive?

  4. Irregular verbs- past simple and past participles. There is a list in most English text books. Also online. Watch pronunciation.

  5. Basic collocations. Examples- I am afraid of, it depends on, listen to. Very important.

  6. Basic verb patterns. These overlap with the collocations. Examples- Decide + inf (with to), enjoy + gerund. Again, very important.

  7. Writing. You should do writing frequently, ideally every day. I sometimes get my students to write in class, but in general teachers shouldn’t need to force you to do it. Writing in English is the best thing you can do for you language learning needs.

  8. Review your work. It’s easy to remember what you did yesterday. It’s not so easy to remember what you did 2 weeks ago. For every hour you spend in class, you should spend an hour reviewing what you have learnt.

  9. Buy a good grammar book and use it. I recommend the blue book by Murphy which is called Use of English for intermediate to advanced learners. There is also a green book for very advance learners. You can buy them  at most school receptions, or on Amazon.

  10. Learn 10 new words of vocabulary and keep a notebook of your work.

Ok, I hope that helps. That’s all for today folks!

Good luck with your English!

You can enrol here  for English courses in London.

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