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How to Learn English quickly: Supercharge your learning with these 3 exercises

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

English is amongst the most popular languages that people learn. Often the process of learning it can be challenging, even though the language itself is pretty accessible and relatively easy. We all know that learning English can help you grow as a person, but can also be life-changing for your career.


The biggest reason why you are still not bilingual in English is that you are not aware of the process of how you learn a language. We're here to help you overcome the difficulties of learning English with some helpful practices and tips.


Do you ask yourself any of these questions:


Find out the answers to these questions and check out a step-by-step plan for your learning process.


 

Why studying does not mean learning when it comes to language learning

"Knowing a language rule does not mean one will be able to use it in communicative interactions" (Brown, 2000)

One common barrier that students often struggle with is the understanding that learning English is the same as acquiring English. Those are two completely different things. Understanding the difference between these two things will help you learn English faster.


Acquisition happens subconsciously, similar to how children learn their first language. Learning is having knowledge of the rules of the language, such as grammar.


One barrier to learning might be that you may think that if you understand the grammar rules of the English language, you will improve your English. Not necessarily. There is a theory developed by Stephen Krashen in 1994, according to which, if you have access to the necessary amount of optimal input, acquisition takes place naturally. Learning grammatical rules will only help you correct yourself when you have time to think about the language you are producing (e.g. when you are writing).


There has been even more research, showing that your language abilities and competence are based more on 'implicit knowledge' and not on 'explicit knowledge', i.e. grammatical structures and rules. In fact, according to Paradis, who wrote about this in 1994, the brain actually uses different parts for putting into practice the language you have acquired and the knowledge about the language you have.


So do you still think that you need to know all the grammar rules to be fluent in English?

 



Exercise #1: Paint Your Portrait by describing yourself in English


Grab a sheet of paper and unleash your creativity as you craft a vivid description of yourself, imagining yourself as a bilingual English speaker.


Once you've completed your self-portrait in words, take a step back and examine it closely. Did you depict a person well-versed in the intricacies of language rules? Or did you bring to life an individual capable of effortlessly navigating diverse English-speaking scenarios?


The beauty of this exercise lies in self-reflection. By analyzing your self-description, you gain insight into your own language aspirations. Are you striving to become a grammar guru, armed with an arsenal of language rules? Or are you aiming to cultivate the versatility and adaptability needed to handle any English-speaking situation that comes your way?


Remember, there's no right or wrong answer. This exercise offers a glimpse into your language learning preferences and goals. Embrace the discovery and let it guide you as you embark on your English learning journey.


 

Why traditional language learning courses are inefficient


"What learners notice in input is what becomes intake for learning"

Let me guess. You have studied English for a number of years. You attended a lot of different courses. You completed thousands of exercises. And you have the feeling that you haven't improved proportionally to your effort.


You are probably frustrated about it but don't worry, there's an explanation. Many language courses use materials that might not be very interesting for you. Also, you don't always see the connection between the materials in class and your real life.


When the input (the language you are exposed to) is not meaningful or understandable to you, your brain will disconnect from it. A necessary condition for you to learn is to notice. Notice what? Well, everything.


Being curious about the language, interesting expressions you hear, constructions you read, or even noticing your mistakes or those of your classmates. Your involvement in the language you receive and what you notice about it will condition how fast you will learn.


So, the first requirement is for you to be exposed to as much authentic English as possible. Input needs to be meaningful, comprehensible, and realistic for you. Then, paying attention to how people speak or to how things are written and noticing what you would like to use yourself would help you speed up the process.


To begin, it is enough for you to notice something. Then, it automatically goes into your short-term memory and you have done 50% of the process.



This technique is often referred to as immersion and refers to immersing oneself in the language, such as watching English movies, listening to podcasts, and engaging in conversations with native speakers. Immersion can greatly accelerate language learning, including English. Here are some ways immersion can help:

  1. Exposure to Authentic Language: Immersion provides direct exposure to authentic English language use, including vocabulary, grammar, idioms, and colloquial expressions. By surrounding yourself with native speakers or immersive language environments like movies, TV shows, and music, you develop a natural understanding of how English is spoken in real-life situations.

  2. Improved Listening Skills: Immersion enhances your listening comprehension as you encounter a wide range of accents, intonations, and speaking styles. Regular exposure to spoken English helps train your ears to understand different accents and improves your ability to comprehend English at a natural pace.

  3. Speaking Fluency and Pronunciation: Immersion allows you to practice speaking English in real-world contexts. Engaging in conversations with native speakers helps develop your fluency, build confidence, and refine your pronunciation by mimicking native speakers' intonation and rhythm.

  4. Cultural Understanding: Immersion provides insight into English-speaking cultures, their customs, traditions, and social norms. Understanding cultural nuances enhances your language skills, enabling you to communicate more effectively and appropriately in various situations.

  5. Contextual Learning: Immersion exposes you to English in meaningful contexts. Through immersion, you encounter English in its natural habitat, making connections between words, phrases, and situations. This contextual learning aids in vocabulary acquisition, grammar understanding, and overall language comprehension.

  6. Enhanced Confidence: Immersion pushes you to actively engage with the language, building your confidence in using English in everyday life. The more you immerse yourself, the more comfortable you become with the language, allowing you to communicate more effectively and express yourself more naturally.

 


Exercise #2 - Become more aware of descriptions and expressions when learning the English language


Every time you are in class or you see something in English, pay attention to how it's said and expressed. Take a note of anything that grabs your attention and you would like to use yourself. Here are some specific tips that can help you achieve language immersion:


1. Engage in Conversations: Actively participate in conversations with native English speakers or language exchange partners. Listen attentively to how they describe things, express emotions, or convey ideas. Pay attention to the vocabulary, phrases, and idiomatic expressions they use. Take note of descriptive words and expressions that stand out and try incorporating them into your own conversations.


2. Watch Movies and TV Shows: Immerse yourself in English-language movies, TV shows, and documentaries. Focus on how characters describe people, places, and situations. Notice the use of descriptive adjectives, similes, metaphors, and vivid expressions. Pay attention to the subtleties of language and how descriptive phrases can evoke emotions or paint a vivid picture in the listener's mind.


3. Read English Books and Articles: Dive into English literature, magazines, newspapers, and online articles. As you read, observe how authors describe settings, characters, and events. Highlight or jot down interesting expressions or descriptions that resonate with you.


4. Explore Online Resources: Utilize online resources specifically designed to enhance your awareness of descriptions and expressions in English. Websites or apps that focus on idioms, slang, or descriptive language can provide valuable insights into how English speakers express themselves. Engage in interactive exercises and quizzes to practice incorporating these expressions into your own speech.


5. Attend Cultural Events or Workshops: Participate in cultural events, workshops, or seminars related to English-speaking cultures. These experiences can expose you to a variety of descriptive language and expressions specific to those cultures.


6. Keep a Vocabulary Journal: Maintain a vocabulary journal to record interesting descriptions, expressions, and idioms you come across during your immersion journey. Write down their meanings, usage, and any context that helps you remember them. Regularly review and practice using these expressions to internalize them.


Remember, immersion is about actively engaging with the language and paying attention to how native speakers describe and express themselves. By consistently immersing yourself in English-language environments and practicing what you observe, you can develop a heightened awareness of descriptions and expressions, allowing you to use them effectively in your own English communication.

 

Why English language learning level stagnates over time

To move from intermediate to advanced level, learners need to "develop the capacity to monitor their own language use (...) and to notice the gap between their productive competence and those of more advanced language users"

Have you ever compared how you spoke once, for example, with another time you spoke about the same topic? If you compare, you will see that you probably used the same structures and vocabulary.


Students tend to stay in a comfort zone and don't normally like to take risks and use more complex structures. If you always use the same words and sentence structure, your level will always be the same.


Most part of language learning happens in the brain of the learner. Traditionally, the responsibility for learning used to be on the teacher but, if we think about it, it's the student who learns, not the teacher. The teacher should provide all necessary conditions and resources for the learner to be able to acquire as much language as possible.


But it all starts with you. And your involvement in the process. Jack Richards, an author and specialist in language learning, has written in his 2008 article on Language Learning that you should be the "manager of your own learning, aware of the limitations of your current level of language ability, but also aware of the means by which you can move beyond".

But how do we do that exactly? Here are four concise techniques to accelerate English language learning:


Structured Learning

Use a structured approach by regularly scheduling time for English language learning, and practicing via textbooks, exercises, online courses, or other tools.


Vocabulary Expansion

Use flashcards, learn word families, and utilize online word resources as methods for expediting your English language learning skills, and more specifically to introduce and familiarise yourself with the use of new words and phrases.


Grammar Focus

Learn the essential grammar rules and common sentence structures to improve overall fluency.


Pronunciation Practice

Schedule dedicated practice of English pronunciation through listening to native speakers, repeating phrases, and using speech recognition tools.

 

Exercise #3 - Infuse Freshness: Boost Language Learning Velocity with Consistent Innovation


To enhance the speed of your language learning journey, embrace the power of incorporating new elements into your English usage. Here's how:


Embrace Novelty

Challenge yourself to include at least one unfamiliar element every time you speak or write in English. This could be a new expression, a unique grammatical structure, or even a previously made error that you're determined to correct.


Curate a Learning List

Create a personalized list where you diligently compile these newfound expressions, grammatical structures, and identified errors. Keep it handy for reference and reinforcement.


Put It into Practice

Seize every opportunity to integrate these fresh additions into your language usage. Whether it's during a conversation, writing an email, or even engaging in self-practice exercises, actively incorporate the items from your learning list.


Learn from Mistakes

Embrace the notion that making mistakes is an essential part of the learning process. When you identify errors, note them down in your learning list, and make a conscious effort to rectify and refine your language skills.


Build Confidence

As you consistently integrate new elements, you'll notice your language proficiency expanding. This newfound confidence will inspire you to explore further and incorporate more challenging expressions and grammatical structures into your everyday communication.


Reflect and Review

Regularly revisit your learning list to reinforce the new additions and refresh your memory. Reflect on how effectively you've incorporated them into your language usage and celebrate your progress.


By incorporating new expressions, and grammatical structures, and addressing errors consistently, you'll infuse your English learning journey with dynamism and accelerate your language acquisition. So, seize each opportunity to experiment, embrace the learning process, and enjoy the growth and fluency that follow!



 



 

Improve how fast you learn English with this simple 3-step action plan


Step 1: Change your mindset


Language learning is a gradual and continuous process. Set achievable goals for yourself, maintain a consistent study routine, and celebrate milestones along the way. Share motivational quotes or success stories to inspire readers.

Here are some simple shifts that can make you do a mindset shift, so you can become psychologically more able to learn:

Don't say

Say

I'm bad at languages

I haven't learned in the right way. Now is the time!

Adults don't learn as easily as children

Adults can learn in the same way as children. How did I learn my first language?

I don't have time

I will make time. I can spend 15 minutes every day.

I am too embarrassed to speak

If I don't speak, I won't learn

English is my 'pending subject'

English is not a subject. It's how I'll communicate with the world.

Step 2: Prepare to take notes, regardless of where you are


​Wherever you are, have a little notebook with you.


In your notebook, have sections, for example:

- situations in which I need English

- useful expressions

- formal/informal language

- grammar structures

- etc.


And every time you are in class or you listen to or read English outside of class, try to write down one thing you noticed from that input.






Step 3: Use the language you are learning in any opportunity that arises


Every time you have the opportunity to speak English, open your notebook and try to use something you have not used in conversation before!


In this way, your language will continue expanding every time you use English. You will be surprised by the results in a very short time!


 

The journey to mastering English quickly is a rewarding endeavor with far-reaching benefits. By investing your time and effort into language learning, you can unlock a world of opportunities. From improved career prospects to increased cultural understanding and enhanced communication skills, the advantages are plentiful.


So are you still wondering why you find learning difficult? Incorporate the exercises suggested and any new language you are exposed to whenever you see an opportunity. Research shows that the key is using and reusing in a meaningful way.


Perhaps, if you start by changing your beliefs and your practices, you will see better results than you can imagine. Millions of people have achieved it. And you can be one of them.



"Do you know what a foreign language is? It's a sign of bravery!"

-Amy Chua



Now is the time to take action and embark on your English learning journey. Implement the strategies we've discussed in this article, tailored to your unique learning style and goals. Remember, consistency and dedication are key to making rapid progress.














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