I understand the struggles of Foreign/Second language learners especially when they have a dire need of language skills in their academic or professional settings because I, myself, have gone through the same struggles in my language career.
Not sure what it means to have a language career? I’ve explained it here: What does it mean to have a language career?
Most of the language learners struggle with their language learning. They often fail to take their language efficiency to the next level. Not knowing what to do and how to do it, they often become misguided and derailed from the right path. Remember, language learning is a process and you must follow certain good guidelines if you want to successfully step up to every next level. Who doesn’t? Right?
In this article, I’ll give you the 5 inevitable fundamental tips you need to follow if you really want to improve your language skills. And these aren’t merely a couple of made-up tips; these tips are tested and taken from experience justified with theoretical knowledge.
Before we start, remember one thing!!! these tips are NOT temporary. I mean, no matter what level you take your language skills, you must keep them in mind in order to step up to EVERY next level. Let’s start…
Keep Yourself Open
The very first thing you should do as a language learner is to keep yourself open. I realized this a couple of months ago in a fine evening when I was reflecting on the people around me who are not my students but somehow willing to get language help from me. I was also reflecting on how I could help them improve. While trying to find a way out, I suddenly realized after analyzing their behavior and some other factors that they wanted to learn but unfortunately were NOT READY to learn.
So What does it mean to keep yourself open when you want to improve your language skills? Well, in short, it means to:
Keep yourself ready to learn anything about language at any time from anybody at any place.”—A H M Ohidujjaman
As a language learner, you should always be ready to learn even outside the classroom. It’s NOT always necessary to have a classroom setting to keep your learning process alive.
So keep yourself open so that you can accept the fact that:
It’s okay to learn from anyone who knows it better than you no matter if the person is your colleague, your associate, your neighbor, your peer, or someone younger than you. Whoever the person is, there must be something you can learn from them.
But wait, here’s a problem. You should always be aware of the fact that you may be misguided by them. I mean there is a chance. Don’t worry!!! I’ll tell you later in this article how to avoid being misguided by people you learn from outside the classroom. keep going…
Once you keep yourself ready to learn, you shouldn’t wait for people to teach you or help learn. YOU are the learner and it’s YOUR duty to learn. And that’s NOT a big deal. You can do it anywhere any time. All you need to do is start observing language and NEVER STOP. Remember, language learning is a process and the more you observe how it works, the more you learn, no matter what level of efficiency you’ve already achieved.
Today’s globalized world gives us an amazing opportunity to somehow stay connected to foreign languages, especially English. Take the advantage. Utilize the opportunity.
So, how to observe language?
Well, observing a language can specifically be possible in the following two ways
While you’re reading something in the target language.
Whenever you notice something written in the target language, read it. And most importantly, observe the language. Go deep into the structure. Try to understand and identify the structure pattern, and see how the meaning is created from that pattern of structure. Imagine, for example, as you walk down the street, you notice a poster in which there is a sentence written boldly as follows:
Who wants to grab a free Hot Coffee with a Milk Shake only @ 1 dollar?!?
What can you learn by reading this sentence? Have you noticed that the sentence is written in a question form, but indicating an offer? Interesting, isn’t it?
Now you can offer your friends to go on a tour with you like this:
Who wants to get the amazing feeling of touching clouds standing on top of a mountain?
While you’re listening to somebody speak or talk about that language.
The other way to observe language and boost your skills is to notice language and its pronunciation whenever somebody speaks that language in front of you or online. Try to notice their pronunciation and imitate them silently because it may be embarrassing or irritating to repeat it loudly. You can also apply the first method that you tried while reading something.
I remember I used to pronounce the word “Possession” like “
Never Be Satisfied
Never be satisfied with whatever you’ve
Does that mean that it’s never possible to achieve a language related goal?
No… It’s certainly POSSIBLE to achieve a goal and meet the needs that made you learn the language. But, you should still keep learning even after you’ve achieved your goal. You should set another goal once you’ve achieved one.
Keep yourself open, keep observing, and keep learning.
This is the most daunting trick of all you can follow to improve your language skills. Trust me, I had never thought that I’d become a language teacher, write blogs and help people learn English. It was all possible because I challenged myself every single step that I further approached. If you think that you can’t do it, you really can’t. You should learn to take challenges and boost your skills up to the next level by yourself. Nobody will do that for you. No teacher, no lesson, youtube video, no blogs can help if YOU don’t help yourself.
So challenge yourself to step up to the next level, fail, and try again. Success must come.
It’s a good quality to have patience no matter what you’d like to achieve. And when it comes to learning a language it’s more important that you have patience because it’s a process. And every process needs at least a certain period of time to accomplish. You need to go through a journey and keep pace with the process.
Two years back, an MBA student came to me with a request. He wanted to improve his speaking. I gave him a test and found that he really needed intensive care. However, I was amazed to see that he was self-motivated. Not only that! He knew exactly what he wanted to achieve. I mean, his goal was already set. Fine! I took him.
But immediately after three sessions, I found that he was restless. I tried to figure out if there was something I could change in the way I was dealing with him, but no. He said he enjoyed my teaching. Moreover, he found my teaching strategies more enjoyable and effective than that of all the teachers he had tried so far. So, what was wrong? What made him restless?
Well, there are many learners who think that they’d learn a good deal of the language and be able to perform perfectly in just a few classes. But please…
Give your brain some time to process all the things that you learn step by step because language skills are a compound idea consisting of so many scattered information, cognitive abilities, and habits. Have patience and enjoy learning…