Now that the new school year has started, you probably have set some goals for academic success. Or if you are not in school, you might also want to improve your English in general. Maybe you don’t have time to take an advanced ESL class, or hire a tutor. That’s all right. There is plenty of things you can do to help yourself. Here are some tips on how you can make your own English improvement plan.
First, identify areas you feel you want to improve in. Is it in daily English conversation? Writing with good grammar? Pronunciation? After you jot down these areas, then you can think about activities that will help you strengthen your skills.
Let’s say one of the areas you want to improve is pronunciation. Further identify specific areas. Do others understand you in general? Is it just a few sounds they have trouble understanding? Is it inflection?
Now that you have determined the specific areas you’d like to enhance, think of the way you learned this skill in the past. Do you like the learning method? If so, keep doing that. If the technique does not appeal to you, fine-tune it so you enjoy the learning process. Or, change technique all together.
To continue with the example of pronunciation… Let’s say it’s sentence inflection that you want to work on. (Remember, each language has its own music. If people from different countries say the same sentence, some would place the accent on different syllables. This is what I mean by music of the language.)
Choose a podcast or video from YouTube that you like. One that you don’t mind listening to over and over. Choose something easy to understand because the intent of this is to train your sentence inflection, not comprehension.
Listen to a few sentences. Then rewind and listen for the inflection. Keep repeating until the inflection begins to feel normal to you.
Then mentally follow the speaker (but not aloud yet.) Pretend you ARE the speaker. Mentally speak the same words using the same sentence inflection. Repeat this until it feels more or less natural.
You can stop at this point, or you can try it aloud. Speak at the same time as the speaker, and see if your inflections are matching.
This is just one example of how you can plan your own English improvement. You can do the same with the other areas that you want to improve. And in a short time, because of your focused attention, you’ll notice a change in those areas.
If you find this blog helpful, here is one on How international students can get more out of school.
And if prepositions is one of the areas you want to work on, here is an article on How to master English prepositions by yourself.
Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking. To schedule a session with her, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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