When they say English connects the world, they are not farther from the truth. It is a language that permeates through all political, social, and cultural barriers and has found a place in one way or another in our lives. However, there are clear disparities so far as fluency in English is concerned. Many countries such as Japan and Germany do not have a large English-speaking population, and even English-speaking countries such as the United States of America may not have fluent speakers. English, like any other language, requires attention and practice.
If you want to study abroad and come from a country where English is not a native language, English will come really handy and should be practiced. This is also important for those who come from English-speaking countries. Most universities across the globe conduct classes (or at least some of them) in English so you must work on it. Just to give you a head-start, I have a few tips to offer.
- Read, read, read
You can learn a great many things just by reading. Pick up good books known for their high literary quality that offer properly written and elaborated English. The Harry Potter Series, The Alchemist, The Silk Roads, A Tale of Two Cities, Thinking Fast and Slow, etc are a few suggestions I have. Read a range of genres, from fiction to historical. You can explore genres as per your interests and convenience. Pay attention to new words used, framing of sentences, tones, grammar, and ideas explored. You just don’t need to learn words and grammar; you must also learn to speak contextually.
- Read Aloud or Sing Along
It is not uncommon to find people who know English pretty well but cannot communicate in it verbally. Pronunciation, improper syntax, and tone of the language often create problems. To improve your command on English, you must make yourself used to it. Speak as much as you can. The best way to go about it is to read aloud books or sing songs. For example, you get a book and dedicate half an hour to reading it out loud. Similarly, pick up a song that uses proper English and sing along. This will help smoothen your pronunciation, improve your pace, and fine-tune vocabulary among many other things.
- Choose the kind of English You Want To Learn
The most commonly known variants of English are British and American. Some find American English easier than British English, but both are interesting in their own right. Countries such as South Korea focus on American English, and India focuses on British English, though it has its own variant called Indian English. Make sure you know which accent you want. If not that, decide what kind of English you should speak because pronunciations, among other things, offer differ. Also, note that there are other variants you might want to consider such as Australian English.
- Watch Shows in English and With Subtitles
Many people I know improve their English by watching shows. Select a few good shows and watch them, preferably with subtitles. It is advised that you pick shows based on context. For example, to learn formal, workplace English, you should consider watching shows such as The Office (American and British). Anyone who wants to understand English in the legal circle should watch shows such as Boston Legal. Friends, whether or not you are a fan, serves as a good watch for learning informal American English. Pay attention to what the actors are speaking, how they are speaking, and in what context they are speaking.
- Make Dictionary Your Friend
You do not have to necessarily buy a hard copy of the dictionary. There are many good apps available for download such as Merriam-Webster. Check them out daily and keep notes. Always mark the words you do not understand and double-check their meanings in the dictionary. Good dictionaries come with example-sentences, synonyms, antonyms, and etymological details. Make it a habit to learn at least five words from the dictionary daily and note them somewhere. Also, before downloading any dictionary or buying one from a bookstore, check what variant of English it covers.
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