English has now become the universal language, and it is said that anyone who wants to climb, must know this language. I for one, d not support this statement. One’s own language is sufficient for a person, however, learning languages does expand the horizons of our knowledge since each language brings distinct context with it. The question we tackle today is not whether we need to learn English or not, but that if we do want to, how can we improve our English?
Anyone who has ever asked me that question has received the same answer: Read books, lots of them, all kinds of them. That is how I learned, and I believe, that is how any language can be mastered.; by reading it and by writing in it. To me, grammar rules never mattered much, I had read enough to be able to make sense of how something must be written. Languages do not come by rules, rather you have to develop a sense of them, so that you just know when to use which words in which way, and whether to use them at all. I believe languages are an extension of our senses.
If I were to list ways to improve English, or any language for that matter, it would go as the following does:
1. Read books
Read lots of books. Read newspapers, read fiction and nonfiction, read history and biographies, read essays and philosophical discourse. Read all sorts of things, but beware, what you read makes you. You must remain the master of yourself as you read. Whatever you read affects you, believe it or not.
I list reading first, because when you read, you have the language right in front of you. The sentence structures, the vocabulary, the writing styles, the usage of grammar and rhetorical devices. It’s not tiresome, and it’s effective. It doesn’t seem like work, but it helps. And to develop the sense of a language, you must swim in its literature.
2. Read news articles
News articles help you relate the language to your present, hence resulting in better understanding. If you read the news anyway, why not read it in a language you’re trying to master? You can always take help from family or peers. Read news articles, comment on them, think about them; it’ll help develop your language skills, it’ll expand your understanding of the language.
3. Speak in English when you can, even if only to yourself
After reading comes speaking. When you’re reading, read aloud sometimes. When we’re learning poems or trying to understand them, the teacher makes us read it aloud. Hearing those sounds helps us understand the words. So speak in English whenever you get the chance to, but don’t get obnoxious with it. Speak it with those who are interested and those who can converse with you. Speaking to yourself is also a good idea. Most geniuses have been accused and found guilty of speaking to themselves.
4. Flip through a dictionary in free time
One of my habits in childhood was this. I used to flip through dictionaries, and I had lots of different dictionaries. Get yourself a good dictionary, keep it close, and flip through it randomly, casually, at leisure. Don’t force yourself to it or the interest factor will evaporate. Let it be a mystery game to you. Read the words, don’t memorize them. Read them and think of where you might use them.
5. Use new words when you learn them
When you learn a new word, use it. Use it wherever you see a use for it. It might get annoying for your peers, but go ahead and use it till it slips off your tongue and till you’ve mastered it. Instant usage of new knowledge helps the brain connections strengthen and the words might just become immortal in your memory.
6. Focus on the way something is written when you read it
When you’re reading, read slowly. Don’t read just to get through books. Savour the words and feel them seep in. Look at how things are written. If an author has described something, notice the technique, notice the words and the writing style. If an author narrates an experience, note how he uses words to bring out a memory, notice the rise and fall of emotions. Notice how things are written.
7. Watch documentaries in English
Hearing someone speak in your desired language helps as well. Watch documentaries, watch news channels, watch movies. Use subtitles if you have to, but try to understand just by listening. When you listen, the words will register themselves into your mind, you’ll see how they’re being used and pronounced and hence you’ll learn more quickly. This is the most efficient technique for audio-visual learners.
When mastering anything, whether its numbers or ceramic work or a language, practice is the key. Write in English, write in any language you’re trying to learn, and even if it doesn’t make proper sense, it will help you gain clarity in usage of the language, it’ll give you confidence. Get your peers to check your work, comment on it, or don’t. Just write pages after pages.
And when you’ve done all of this for a considerable period of time, say a year or two, you’ll see noticeable improvement. Be patient with yourself and keep in mind that we’re always students of every discipline.
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