Improving Your English Quickly – A 6 Month Strategy
Believe it or not, you can rapidly improve your English with a couple of basic steps. It requires making a few key changes to your routine but it will have a remarkable effect. The most important thing on your part is to STICK TO THE ROUTINE. If you break it, then all will be lost.
Learning a language is like learning a musical instrument or building muscles in the gym. Anyone can start, have good intentions and even see some quick basic results. However to truly master your English language skills, so that you feel in complete control, are thinking in English and expanding your lexis, along with maintaining everything else, you must create a routine that works for you and practise weekly, if not daily.
Any part-time pianist will know that if you don’t play for a while, you get rusty. What that means is you are struggling. It isn’t coming easy to you. You don’t feel confident playing. Anyone who has ever worked out in the gym knows that if you stop working out over Christmas, your body quickly starts to lose its definition. If you then are prevented from going to the gym for another couple of months, your body returns to its original shape pre-working out.
All of this is of course obvious. We all know that practice makes perfect. So what we at Brown Cow English here are attempting to give you are the tools to make this common knowledge a reality. And if you stick to it – you WILL see results. Some of what we offer you may already be doing. Some of what we suggest doing may surprise you. Stick with it! We have over 15 years’ experience teaching English both online and offline and we want to share our knowledge with you!
Over the next six months, every month we will feature a guide for you to follow. Regularly check our blog too for weekly language tips, analysis and exercises. So here we go with months 1-3. Any questions or queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more advice. You can speak to us one to one and we can devise a personalised English language plan around your needs.
Review Your Grammar
Over the next 3 months we want you to focus on reviewing your grammar. Review everything you know (or think you know!). That means going through your grammar and refreshing your knowledge. It’s worth going over topics you already feel comfortable with.
I would recommend using the deity of the English language, Raymond Murphy’s Grammar In Use. If you are not familiar with the book, please contact us for further details. Alternatively you only need to google ‘English grammar review’ and you will find 100s of websites doing just that. Why do we recommend doing this? Because over the next few months we are going to teach you the skill of error correction – meaning you learn to correct yourself.
Recognise Your Errors
You will not be able to correct yourself though if you have not refreshed your grammar because you will need to firstly RECOGNISE YOUR ERRORS. Once you are learning to recognise your errors, you can start correcting them, which includes all your bad habits that you have picked up. You can always go back to your grammar sources to double check your understanding but the most important thing is ERROR RECOGNITION and then correcting yourself or continuing to further your understanding on the language point in hand until you are able to correct yourself accurately and instantaneously.
Look at the sentences below. They are examples of classic mistakes made by students. Ask yourself if you fully understand the language points and if not you should review them.
Do you fully understand the difference between the PAST and the PRESENT PERFECT?
Why do we use tenses in either the SIMPLE or CONTINUOUS forms?
What are the differences in usage between A and THE?
By the way, the above questions will be covered in this blog over the next few months so watch this space! But we don’t want you to wait so please start researching any grammar issues you may have now. Reviewing your grammar is something you should be continually doing.
We want you to start this month but we don’t want you to stop! Everything you will learn to do over the next 6 months consists of skills that we would like you to maintain forever! Not to the same concentrated degree but it is essential you are continually reviewing and double-checking if you have any doubts.
Even as native English language teachers, we still review English language points to further our understanding and ability to teach the language. The learning never stops and that’s no bad thing as knowledge is power!
We recommend reviewing your grammar for 20 minutes a day over the first month. After that you can drop down to 20 minutes a week. Read the rules, do some exercises and check your answers in the back of the book.
Talk To Yourself!
So, in the first month, for 20 minutes a day, review your grammar – AND (this is the fun part) start talking to yourself OUT LOUD. You only need to do it for 10 minutes a day. We recommend doing it in the morning when getting ready for work, making breakfast, having a shower etc or when you get home from work and are preparing dinner or any other tasks you may have.
Of course, you can talk with a partner or friend if you want to but it’s harder to establish a routine that way as you are reliant on someone else. It’s very important you do this daily and that it is out loud. This may sound ridiculous and you might feel a little self-conscious doing it at first but there are reasons why it is so effective and necessary:
- Speaking out loud daily starts to exercise the English part of your brain on a daily basis. The brain is a muscle of sorts. If you regularly exercise it you will strengthen it. Don’t let your English brain lie dormant. If you exercise it sometimes but then leave it for a while you will not see results. It has to be REGULAR.
- Speaking out loud will increase your confidence. If you can get used to talking to yourself then you will be relieved to talk to others and not shy away from it!
- Speaking out loud will help you with your pronunciation my exercising your tongue and mouth positioning too – many of which will be different from when speaking in your mother tongue.
What do you talk about to yourself? A good place to start is simply describing what you are doing. “I am going to go and brush my teeth now. Where has my toothbrush gone? Not again! I bought a new one yesterday after I had lost my previous one, having had it for only two days…” You get the idea – it doesn’t matter what you say.
Just release that stream of consciousness in English. You can take it as far as you like. From inane chitchat to your worries at work or joys of life at that moment in time – the most important thing is you keep talking!
So reviewing your grammar and talking to yourself. This is all we ask of you for the first month. 20 minutes grammar and 10 minutes talking. 30 minutes a day. That’s not too much to ask for and will set you up beautifully for month 2! Good luck and any questions please contact us at any time for further advice or support.