English language: listen, speak, write
If you are reading this article it means you want to get the tools that will help you learn to speak English like a native. Well, you’re in the right place.
Ok – let’s start with an assumption: if you want to learn a language you have to practice constantly: during breakfast, at work, when you come home, when you go out. Whether on the radio, on television, talking face to face or on the phone, the best way to learn a language is to speak, listen and write in that language. Today I want to know how to learn English.
We’ve actually been exposed to the English language since we were young. We have often come across English words on our computers, on our cell phones and even in the songs we like. Who has never read the lyrics of an English song by a group they really like? We are so used to hearing English all around us that it turns out to be very familiar. But just because it is familiar, can we assume it is easy to learn? Absolutely not. Certainly, the English language will not be as difficult for us as Chinese or Japanese, but we must not think it will be simple to learn.
As with any other language, dedication, study and determination are what’s required in order to master English.
Learning any language requires focusing on three key areas:
Listening: Understanding English pronunciation
In England there are many regional accents, ranging from the very strong, specifically north-western accents of Liverpool and Manchester to the many London accents and accents of the south of England. Think of the different accents that distinguish you country. Perhaps English accents will not number as many as yours but when you come across the various types you will notice the obvious differences between them.
You have probably heard people from the north or south of your country speak, and maybe you asked “What did they say? What language do they speak?”
Well, the same thing will happen to you when you meet English-speaking people, and especially you meet people from Ireland or Scotland.
How then can we understand a person when they speak to us? As previously mentioned, we must listen very attentively, and get our ears used to hearing a language different from our own.
Here is a very entertaining example of 67 accents performed by a young Englishman who has become a phenomenon on YouTube.
There are many different ways to train your hearing, and perhaps each of us has his own personal method, but I want to suggest the best and most convenient tools you can use daily; whilst you’re on the bus, or at home – cooking or even when you’re on a plane.
- TV: on television we can hear a bit of everything, ranging from the very quick colloquial talk-talk-talk to the slower, more deliberate speech favoured by the BBC news.
- Radio: by far the best radio station I can suggest is LBC. LBC is a London radio station whose presenters talk for hours about current affairs. Arm yourself with headphones and listen to LBC on your phone via TuneIn Radio.
There are pay-to-view TV channels whose films have subtitles in the beginning, at least, it is essential to have subtitles so you can match the spoken dialogue to the written words.
- Now TV: Access the Now TV site and view the offer
- Sky TV: Access the Sky TV site and view the offer
- Amazon Prime: Access Amazon Prime Video and view the offer
Speech: using the language and developing a good English accent
A very important exercise to get you used to speaking in another language is to read aloud. Do it when you’re alone at home, in silence, so you’ll hear your own voice and work at correcting the pronunciation. Do it when you’re in the shower; learn an English song and sing it.
If you like to be kept up-to-date with what’s going on then try reading newspapers. Outside the main stations in London you’ll find metal racks filled with free newspapers. You can take a copy and read it while you’re on the tube. Remember that political articles will be the most difficult to understand, very esoteric, with words often not used in everyday communication. Sports articles, on the other hand, are among the easiest to understand. They tend to relate something without using difficult or technical language.
At first glance – it may seem less useful, but I consider reading a good book most useful when it comes to learning. In a book – such as Harry Potter, for example – we will find many descriptive words, synonyms and words of all kinds that will help us build our vocabulary.
Writing: learning to write in English
Reading not only helps to speak a language; if you read aloud, but it will also help you learn how to write. Always pay attention to how words are written and when you are at home, instead of writing in your language, get used to writing in English. This will help you to revisit your memory as you write the words learned during reading. Buy a good grammar book: you can’t avoid buying a good grammar book if you want to speed up your learning.
Utilise the huge number English channels that can be found on YouTube.
If you liked this article and found it useful, perhaps you know some learning methods that we have not discussed. Let us know by sending a message using the comments section below.