Sitting at a table looking at your notebook is not the best way to study English. Most of the time, your mind is not actively using the information that you are studying, and practical learning does not take place. Here are some techniques that will help you learn more effectively.
1) Write a journal. Most people say, “I have nothing to write.” If you start writing, you will remember all of the interesting things that you can write about. Writing every day lets you see your grammar clearly in front of you, express your ideas, and use a non-oral method to communicate in English. Ask your teacher to correct your journal. Then read the corrected version out loud. It is a good idea to re-copy the corrected journal too, so that you will have the experience of writing your ideas down in proper English.
2) Read a book. By reading a story, you create a picture in your imagination that will connect different parts of your brain to English. Find a book that is not too difficult -don’t be embarrassed to start with a children’s storybook with pictures! Do not stop every time you fi nd a new word. Guess what the word probably means, continue reading, and check in your dictionary at the end of the page or chapter.
3) Re-write your class notes every day. Writing your notes a second time will allow you to remember more strongly what you studied. It will also make your notebook neater, making it easier to study.
4) Read out all of your grammar exercises. So many students “know” grammar but cannot use it! This is because they rarely practice linking the grammar they study to the speech center of the brain. If your mouth is not comfortable using the grammar patterns, it will be difficult to use them in everyday conversation. Repeat the example sentences (or sentences you have corrected in class) in a clear, loud voice, and be sure to practice while looking away from the paper. It is also a good idea to practice away from your desk – walk around your room practicing your reading! When you speak English out of school, you will not be sitting at a desk – so don’t practice only when you are at a desk!
5) Watch TV and movies, and listen to the radio. Even if you don’t understand everything, you will still be learning. It is possible to understand the content even if you know only 30% of the words that you hear! Your listening ability will improve day by day – and it’s fun!
6) Keep a vocabulary notebook in a separate notebook from your class notes. Take an active approach to learning new vocabulary. If you find 5 words a day, 6 days a week (you can rest for one day), you will learn about 140 new words a month; 10 words a day would bring you over 280 new words a month! Because you are searching for words that you want to know, it will be easier to remember them. (Hint – approach new words by subject: things in the kitchen, things in the bedroom, things connected to your hobbies, etc.) Do it this way:
a) Think of a word you know in your language.
b) Look it up in your dictionary.
c) When you find the English word, write it down on the left side of your vocabulary note book.
d) In the middle of the page, write down if the word is a noun (n), verb (v), adjective (adj), etc. so that you will know how to use the word.
e) Look the word up in an English-English dictionary.
f) Write the English definition on the right side of the page (or on the next page).
g) Copy a sentence from the dictionary. This will help you learn how to use the word correctly. Do not yet write your own sentence. Practice reading this sentence until it becomes natural for you.
7) Speak lots of English with your friends, even your friends from the same country! You improve your spoken English by speaking English in different situations with people of all nationalities. If you want to speak English better in the future, speak it as much as possible NOW! Think positively. People who say “I can’t speak English well” are correct. People who say “Every day in every way, my English is getting better and better” are also correct. What you think is what you get. Practice saying the second sentence every day, and you will see greater improvement in your English and in your confidence.
Remember: the more fun you have with English, the easier it will be to learn. ENJOY English!