My Secrets to Learning English Faster
by Christine Konstantinidis
Have you ever tried to learn English?
Do you have bad memories because your school experience wasn’t the best?
Do you always think: “I haven’t got any talent!”?
Is language learning – in your opinion – work, grammar rules, vocabulary lists, drills and cramming?
Have you ever thought at some point in your life that you don’t have any talent for language learning?
Maybe you decided after finishing school: ‘I won’t learn any more languages ever again!’
Inwardly, however, it rankles you because there were those friendly people who you met during your holiday in England or Ireland whom could not speak your mother tongue, or because you like visiting those small villages in Scotland where no French, Spanish or German is spoken. You want to read the original version of Shakespeare and you want to watch British comedies because of the famous British humour. Maybe you saw that great cookbook which is only available in English, or perhaps you got to know that very friendly lady who, unfortunately, can only speak English. Not to mention the newest song of your famous rock band sounds great but you want to understand the lyrics!
Then give it a try! One side of the coin is the work, the drills and the grammar, and this is only a rumour, as the other side of the coin is the more exciting side: to approach the task with huge passion and enthusiasm. A language does not solely consist of drills and grammar rules, but from different cultures and points of view; the sound, the mimic, the gesticulation, the friendships, the culinary pleasures, music – all these points make a language beautiful!
You are on the right path not thinking about how many verb forms there are and how many words you will find on your vocabulary list. The passion for English and the countries where it is spoken is what counts – and that is the most important condition for successful and motivated learning!
Of course, there are rules. Of course, there are activities and tasks that have to be done. All language learners have compulsory, linguistic tasks like inserting words or going through grammatical rules. It is normal that sometimes there is a lack of motivation, but even then there are many methods and tricks to organize learning as pleasantly as possible and to keep motivation high or to raise it again.
The most important focus in learning English, however, is using it and interacting with other people who speak English. The long-lasting friendships from visits, phone calls, e-mails and letters (and sometimes small parcels) are the greatest reward you can get. Then languages are fun!
The English language should become a part of your daily life. There are various possibilities to learn apart from sitting at a desk studying seriously. For example, you can:
- touch the objects e.g. kitchen utensils – to learn the related vocabulary better
- draw pictures – this works extremely well with prepositions
- draw mind maps – there are different computer programmes available, but you can also draw them on a sheet of paper
- act like a theatre actor in front of the mirror
- read dialogues aloud (again: like a theatre actor)
- play games like ‘Memory’ with your words
- search for colours in the house or your city and name them
- listen to podcasts or audiobooks while walking, doing sports or housework
- read magazines related to your hobbies
- listen to the radio
- watch films
- read the original version of books (and not the badly translated version!)
- practise in your car – nobody will hear you! Talk to yourself, summarize what you’ve listened to on the radio, describe what you can see …
- think in your target language, translate signposts and conversations
- use apps on your smartphone like Memrise, HelloTalk or Linqapp.
- play computer games – but only use your target language
- speak whenever you can!
- search for a language partner – Italki or Word Perfect English are great resources for this
- go to Facebook and look for a language group
- go to Facebook again and subscribe to interesting fan pages in English
- read language blogs in English – they also offer great learning material like “where to find podcasts”, “what to read” and “where to find great apps for your smartphone”
- read language blogs in your mother tongue – even then it can be useful! You can then translate the articles, summarize them or explain them to a (virtual) friend. Choosing language blogs (like mine) you get tips and information on how to learn a language which can be extremely useful. The internet has so much to offer when you feel a bit lost.
- read my blog and my book ☺
- don’t separate learning time and the rest of your life
Two pieces of advice to finish the article:
Don’t panic. Rome wasn’t built in one day. Language learning takes time. So take your time, learn on a regular basis and do what you can. Start now.
When was the best time to start learning? 20 years ago? And when is the second-best moment? Now. So start immediately, there is no need to wait until next Monday, next summer or next year.
Who am I?
I’m Christine Konstantinidis, I’m German and a language teacher for several languages (mostly Italian). Besides, I run the blog “Erfolgreiches Sprachenlernen”, work as a freelancer for some companies and have a real passion for everything related to languages, learning techniques and time management. I speak German, English, French, Italian and Spanish, and I can translate Latin texts. Last year in April, I published my first book “Sprachen lernen – Tolle Tipps und Tricks”. It is available in German and I am currently working on an English and Italian translation.