Eight secrets to improve your English

Posted on 21st Feb 2018 in School News, Language Learning, United Kingdom

Ana Luíza Loio, a student at EF Academy Oxford, shares some simple, practical advice on improving your English skills...

No matter how good your English is, you can always improve it in some way. This is true even for native speakers, who make mistakes sometimes too. So don’t worry if you feel like you are struggling with some more complex grammar, pronunciation or even just vocabulary – it’s no biggie!

And this is why, even though I’m not an English expert either, I’m here to share with you guys my top eight secrets on how to improve your English – I believe they have helped me a lot throughout the years!

Get used to thinking in English

Now this is a really important tip because if you’re not able to think in English, it will be impossible for you to build sentence structures that don’t exist in your native language. You can get used to doing so by turning your phone and computer language to English and downloading the English version of the apps you use the most. You can also try to use an English-only dictionary instead of a bilingual one, since this will improve your abilities to think abstractly in English.

Google and YouTube are your best friends

This might be a good option if you are having a hard time with grammar as you can easily find online lessons on YouTube or some really good explanations when googling the topic. And the best thing about it is that these are generally free! Just don’t forget to make sure the websites/Youtube channels you are using are reliable and have accurate information.

Learn while having fun

Listening to music, reading books, and watching films and series in English is a really effective, stress-free way of studying. A good strategy is to look for the lyrics of songs you like and try to understand them. If there are any words you don’t know, look for the meaning on a dictionary (and this works for books too). When watching films or series make sure to set the subtitles to English – or not to use subtitles, if you can, so that your brain can be exposed to English as much as possible.

Surround yourself with English speakers

If you have the opportunity to talk to native English speakers, do not waste it! I know it’s just easier to stick to your comfort zone but, although this might sound cliché, surrounding yourself with English speakers is simply the best way of learning a language. It works like magic: it won’t feel like you are studying at all, and after some time, POOF!… You will notice your English has improved by a lot.

Ask for help

If you really want to improve your English, you will just have to set pride aside and admit that there will always someone who is be better at it than you. Whenever you have a doubt, don’t hesitate to ask! It might be your teacher, a friend who’s a native speaker or someone who you reckon to have better English than you, but just be open to corrections, as this is often the only way for you to realize you’re making a mistake.

Keep a vocabulary notebook

A vocabulary notebook might be really useful as it prevents you from forgetting any new words you might learn, especially because we tend to come across a lot of them at the same time in class. But try to use this method outside of class too and take notes on any new word or expression you hear. Writing things down is not only a good way of fixing your learning, but it also means you can go through all your vocabulary from time to time.

Stick notes to your wall

This is something I like to do with all my school subjects and I sense that it helps me a lot to remember whatever topic I’m struggling with. Just make some notes on grammar rules or vocabulary you want to remember, stick them to your wall and spend some time looking at it every day (lol) until you’ve learned it. It’s just a lot easier to remember something when it’s part of your own room.

Download language apps

And last but not least, my favorite tip is one that I use a lot myself: downloading dictionary, pronunciation and even verb apps! Whenever you are not sure about the meaning of a certain word, the correct verbal form to use in a determined situation or how to pronounce a word these apps might come in handy, especially considering nowadays we all have our phones with us 24/7. And let’s face it, many times Google Translator simply doesn’t do the job.

For iOs, I recommend the “Advanced English Dictionary and Thesaurus”, “Pronounce” and “English Verbs!!”

This post first appeared on EF Academy's blog.