I am an Indian who has studied in English medium schools all my life. I have a strong grasp of basic English but still face difficulty sometimes. Be it phrasing some ideas into words or pronouncing certain words. At the same time, I also realize that my grammar usage is wrong sometimes. Can anyone guide me on how someone like me can improve in these areas? Thanks.
Studies have shown that using immersion as a language learning technique is one of the best ways to learn a language. Think about how you learned your first language: did someone "translate" from "baby language" to that language? Immersion is the process of exposing yourself to a language in an environment where you can practice reading or listening, while still receiving clues of what is going on.
Some helpful immersion techniques include listening to a movie in English with subtitles in your first language (or without subtitles, if you're up for a challenge), reading a graphic novel in English, or reading a picture-free novel and using an English dictionary (not a dictionary in your first language, because using an English dictionary will improve your grasp on the language; if there are words in the definition that you don't understand, look those up, too, as this will improve your vocabulary) to look up words that you do not know. Eventually, you'll start to pick up on and use the sentence structures, grammar, etc. that you observe. For pronunciation, movies are your best bet. On a trip, I once met a person who learned English simply by watching movies with Spanish subtitles, and his accent was nearly flawless. Although he was from Costa Rica, I would have guessed that he was from New York.
Other suggestions would be-
- Involving chat (or talking if it's feasible) with people in your contacts who are particularly good at English. Keep learning from your differences.
- Do not assume meanings of words you don't know (even if you are good at it) and move on without searching them through.
- You can try learning with apps/sites that focus on particular areas you might be lacking -for e.g. you might not be used to phrasal verbs and sound more formal even in a relaxed or informal setting.
- When you come across a new word, you should try browsing its usage in different contexts. This would help you not reading the definition of a single word (or phrase) multiple times and help you enrich your vocabulary.
- When writing e-mails/texts try making them shorter yet more informative and readable.
I would like to add this quote by Blaise Pascal. Note - this refers to the letter itself.
"I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter."
- For improving your pronunciation, I suggest you to read answers to this question.
Speaking & Pronunciation. In addition to watching videos and movies in English, to improve your pronunciation you can use online dictionaries that provide you with both the meaning and pronunciation of words. Among them, WordReference is a very good one (but you can also use Google translator). Moreover, try the shadowing technique so you can listen to phrases and words pronunciation, repeat them in real time and memorize them better. Finally, try to speak with native speakers as practice is the key when learning a language, especially when active skills such as speaking and writing are involved. Also, try to talk about your plans for the day (it’s ok even if you talk to yourself as the important thing is practicing as much as possible).
Writing & Grammar. In order to improve those areas, first of all you should review some grammar (or/and learn new notions) and, again, practice as much as possible. You can do so by using various resources such as the OxfordOnlineEnglish website where you can find many English grammar lessons (in addition to pronunciation and listening ones!), the Books4Languages website where you can find both free textbooks for English grammar and a lot of exercises to practice as much as you want, the English Grammar Online website which provides you with both grammar lessons and tips on how to write English texts, and the HiNative website where you can ask questions to native speakers! Moreover, try to keep an agenda where you can write down your plans in English and take note of your achievements (you can also try to keep a personal diary in English where you can write about your day and thoughts about anything).