Need to improve your English as soon as possible? Are you under pressure to be fluent right away? Don’t worry. While it’s true that language acquisition is a long process and it can take years to master a new tongue, there are some things you can do to help speed up your learning.
Here are seven tricks from the experts at goprofe.com for absorbing English faster.
Think in English
When you speak in your native language, the words probably flow out of your mouth almost without you having to think about them. That’s because you’ve already practiced various combinations of words in that language thousands and thousands of times. You don’t need to stop and agonize over how to describe your job or your favorite food or your childhood pet. You have probably talked or at least thought about those or similar topics many, many times before. And all that practice means that your brain can easily find the words it needs, when it needs them.
The opposite is true in the language you are learning. Because your brain is not used to constructing phrases or finding the right word to follow another word, it takes you a lot longer to speak in your non-native language. The only way to combat this is by trying to make up for all the practice time you lack. Think to yourself in English. Although it will be slow going at first, stick with it. The more practice time you give yourself, the faster you’ll be able to learn English.
Visualize conversations about a specific topic
As we’ve just said, thinking in English can be a good way to sharpen your skills and practice putting words together quickly and fluidly. A related exercise is to limit your internal conversations to a specific topic. This will force you to use specialized vocabulary and will expand your ability to speak about different subjects. Suggestions for topics include:
- Daily routines
- Criticism of movies, music or books
- Political issues
Additionally, if you hold a two-part conversation with yourself, rather than a one-way monologue, you will be required to use persuasion or other tactics (even if you’re just talking to yourself!).
Speak out loud
Taking it a step further and actually verbalizing your conversations with yourself in English is another helpful way to improve your language skills. Not only are you practicing your fluency, but you can work on your accent at the same time. Just as your brain isn’t used to constructing phrases and sentences in English, the muscles of your mouth and tongue aren’t used to pronouncing English words. Think about how babies learn how to speak. They start by repeating simple syllables like ba and ma and working their way up to complex utterances. One reason that children can speak English without an accent but you can’t is that those children have had thousands of hours of speaking practice, and you haven’t (probably!). Talking out loud to yourself can help you catch up to them.
Repeat everything you hear
Another trick we can pick up from small children is parroting. There’s an English phrase, “small pitchers have big ears,” which means that little children are always paying attention to everything we adults say. Kids watch and listen closely, and then they imitate what they observe. Doing the same will help you learn English faster. Find any recording of a native speaker that you can stop and start, for example a video on YouTube. Then go through, sentence by sentence or even word by word, repeating everything the speaker says. Pay attention to accent, tone, and inflection.
Here are some sounds in English that Spanish speakers tend to have trouble with:
- T’s at the end of words: this is important in English, because often it indicates whether a word is present or past. For example, “walk” vs. “walked.” How do you pronounce that second word? It’s not “walk-ed,” but more like “wakt.”
- M’s at the end of words: many Spanish speakers don’t properly close their mouths at the end of words like “come.”
- The TH sound: it’s pronounced with your tongue between your teeth, like the Castilian Z.
Consume media in English
Think about those little children again. Another advantage they have over you is that they are constantly exposed to English: in books, music, movies, TV shows, and more. That means you need to make sure you have the same conditions. Whenever possible, read books in English, listen to English-language music, and watch American or British movies and TV shows in the original language. You can even watch YouTube videos and read internet forums in English. The internet makes it so easy to get hold of material in other languages, you have no excuse!
This can be the hardest part for some students, but it’s essential if you want to make progress. Goal-setting gives you something to work towards. It can also give a real sense of satisfaction when you achieve your goals. Here are some examples of goals you can set:
- Read articles about different topics in English for half an hour a day.
- Speak to myself only in English during my commute to work four days a week.
- Watch one movie in English per week.
- Spend ten hours per month practicing English pronunciation.
- Memorize two poems in English.
Practice with a teacher
Sometimes the only way to hold yourself accountable is by scheduling classes with a teacher. A teacher motivates you to get your work done and pushes you outside of your comfort zone. goprofe.com has a range of excellent teachers that can help you achieve your goals and learn English faster than you thought possible.
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You can find an English teacher to help you learn English faster at goprofe.com. There are hundreds of teachers registered and located all over Spain.