1. Reading allows you to connect with the language, and it builds your vocabulary within a specific context – which makes your speaking stronger.
Many people “moan and groan” when presented with the prospect of having to read something – anything! As a lover of language, written or spoken, this was never a problem for me as I love to read literature of all types. However, as a teacher of English, I realize that not all my students feel the same way that I do, and so I asked myself how I could help my students to enjoy reading more. It seemed like the best answer was: only read what you are interested in!
You should put extra effort into finding a form of literature that is appealing to you – don’t read anything that seems boring to you! I have found in my experience that there is something for everyone, whether it is a paragraph of text or dialogue, a comic strip, a news article, a famous poem, a short book or even a series of novels! If your teacher has presented you with a text that you are not interested in, SPEAK UP, and tell them! The most important thing for you and your English language learning is to choose a subject that is not only useful in daily life, but also very interesting to you.
2. The more you listen, the more you understand, and the more fluent you will become.
We have all heard it before – “learn like a baby”…or a child. But what does it really mean? Babies CANT talk and therefore from the beginning, have all the time in the world to listen. WE are not babies. The majority of us who are non-native speakers of a foreign language are aware that we simply don’t have the time NOR the patience to simply listen and learn. Yes, it is a great idea to listen to podcasts, audio books, and the news in English, but this is not enough to really become fluent in a language. We are adults in a busy world that is full of ideas that need to be communicated HERE and NOW.
Although I fully support the idea that you must listen in order to speak well, I also understand your need to actually TALK. For this reason I give all of my students an Mp3 recording of our lessons together. This way you can practice your SPEAKING with me, and then later – on your own – you can practice your LISTENING as many times as you wish. This style of RE-studying what you have already reviewed will help you retain information better, and then when you have to speak with a native speaker (Like me!) you can practice all the new vocabulary and grammar that you learned.
3. Singing along to music, reduces accent and ‘fine-tunes’ pronunciation, making your English pleasant to listen to.
It is often said that the hardest form of any language to understand in the “sung word”. I must admit that this can be true in many cases, as the stress and rhythm of a language is greatly modified in songs in order to better combine with the music. However, these modifications can actually help you speak with more confidence and understand other people with ease. Not to mention the fact that singing has been proven to help people with stress and relaxation – what a great way to learn!
Find an artist or group that you like to listen to in English. Find a style of music that is appealing to you, and a voice that you would like to imitate. When you do this, learning English, and practicing your pronunciation will be fun, relaxing and effective. You will learn new vocabulary and find yourself in situations where the grammar from the song you were singing in the shower that morning, helps you out in the real world. I know it may sound funny, but as a student of Spanish (who has sung many songs in the shower :p ), I owe a lot of my fluency to “singing for fun”. So get out there, and sing your heart out…in English!
For more information about classes with me, Tara Musich, please send an email today!
Take care, and talk to you soon.
(Special thanks to the Peanuts Gang by Charles Shulz, Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson and Garfield by Jim Davis for making this blog post cute and fun! For more comics daily, visit http://www.gocomics.com/)