Don’t be shy or fear being wrong! Today is English Language Day, remember that the more you practice, the more comfortable you will feel.
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One of the main difficulties learning a language is to achieve good fluidity enough to be able to communicate effectively and accomplish more things for your venture.
Many times, despite taking years of learning it, we do not feel safe enough to relax and let go. This is due to the fear of mispronouncing words or making grammar mistakes.
However, perfection should not be the goal, your speaking and communication skills fluently and with a correct accent will only improve with time, and the more you practice – and make mistakes – the faster you will achieve it.
Keri Craig, an expert in language teaching and director of the British Council Teaching Center in Mexico, shares the following tips to improve your English skills :
1. Listen carefully: create an immersive process by listening to music, videos or radio in English for at least a couple of hours every day on the way to work, when exercising or even in your bed before going to sleep.
Listen to material that you have a transcript of in order to understand it better. For example, you can watch a movie with audio and English subtitles or do listening exercises.
2. Repeat out loud: try to imitate to practice your pronunciation and get used to word stress. Listen to the content a couple of times first while following the transcript.
Then read the text aloud and focus on reproducing the rhythm and intonation. Don’t worry about mispronouncing words, just try to achieve a smooth rhythm. Repeat the process over and over.
3. Record yourself: if you want to express yourself as close to a native speaker as possible, you can record your voice from time to time. Listen to an audio, then read aloud and record yourself.
Find the differences between your version and the original. This is your opportunity to work on specific sounds. If you are able to appreciate your mistakes, you are closer to achieving a correct pronunciation.
4. Practice reading: reading is a great way to enrich your vocabulary. Focus on understanding the text and familiarizing yourself with the structure of the language, without thinking about grammar.
Also, try reading aloud because it allows your brain to become familiar with the language and helps you improve your speaking level.
5. Write: it is likely that at first you feel very limited when writing, but the main objective of this exercise is to get used to communicating ideas in English, without feeling the pressure of speaking with another person.
6. Use technology: today there are countless applications for smartphones or tablets to learn or practice languages.
Find the one that best suits your needs. Take advantage of some downtime to practice using fun and educational games or apps.
7. Do social activities: Try taking a course in English in a subject that you are passionate about, or join a social club to meet English-speaking people. In this way, you will associate the language with a positive and pleasant experience.
Have discussions on topics that interest you with other friends who are also looking to improve their speaking skills. Traveling is also a great way to practice the language.
8. Learn a new word every day: Make a conscious effort to increase your vocabulary and to look up words in the dictionary that you do not know when you read or listen to content in English.
Try to use them in different phrases even if you are not sure you are doing it correctly. Do this until you feel familiar with it and have integrated it into your everyday lexicon.
9. Talk, talk, talk! Speak confidently and as often as possible, take every opportunity to talk.
Don’t be shy or fear being wrong! Remember that the more you practice, the more comfortable you will feel, and your vocabulary, pronunciation and fluency will improve.
10. Get closer to the experts: There are countless options for learning English, including schools specifically focused on developing oral skills, whether in a business or academic context.