Tuesday, October 9, 2018

How to Improve Your English


I have been receiving questions on how to improve our skills in English, especially for speaking & writing. So I guess it will be better if I write my answer here, easy for you to refer, and easy for me too, since I won't have to repeat the same answer. Anyway, first let me remind you that I am still improving my English too, so if you happen to see any grammatical errors in my post, kindly excuse me, for I am still learning. :)

Basically, for every skill in this world that we want to acquire or improve, there's one compulsory thing to do; practice. So, if you want to improve you writing skill, by hook or by crook, you have to write, a lot. And same goes to improving your speaking skill; practice speaking. Speak whenever you have chance. I'll elaborate more after this. But you get me right? There's no magical way to attain a skill & be good at it, except by practicing it, again & again, with the right method.

Now what you need to do when I say that you have to practice writing? Up to you, as long as you make yourself used to writing in English. It's even more easy in this modern world, because you have so many virtual places that you can practice writing; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Blogspot, Tumblr and many other social media. (If you prefer the pen & paper method, great then).

Do you feel embarrassed that you might make mistakes? No problem, as a start, you can set the audience only to yourself, or make a new account that's set to private and only you (or a few other people) can view it. Because the goal from this practice isn't really to let people read your idea, but to let you practice writing, to make your hands & mind get used to jotting down whatever you have in your mind.

As for me, I started practicing thoroughly to write in English when I was 17, it was 14 years ago, the year I need to sit for my SPM. I was given tasks by my English mentor to write an essay every week, and submit the essay to her, which I was asked to sit down for exactly one hour (to get used to the time length for exam) and make sure I finish an essay.

At first it was not an easy task, I had to force myself a lot, but eventually it got easier. And after SPM, I've decided to have a blog as a place for me to improve my writing skill. As the technology is getting more advanced, I have so many social media accounts, I use them to help me improve my writing. It's okay if you feel like you're writing craps at first, we all do anyway. Just start. :)

I wanna share how I used to write during my early days of blogging, and how it really helped me. I usually created a draft of my blog entry in Microsoft Words. When I write there, it will notify me whenever I make spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in my sentences. And more importantly, Microsoft Words will recommend better (or bombastic?) phrases for me to use in my sentences. You can try this too.

Now let's move to speaking. Honestly, there's no other way to be able to speak in English, other than to actually speak in that language. Having good skills in writing/listening/reading English isn't a guarantee that we will automatically be good in speaking. If our tongue rarely speaks English, we will never be good in speaking English, no matter how good we are in writing English. Because writing & speaking are two different skills.

And I have to admit that, my speaking skill isn't as good as my writing, perhaps because I write more than I speak in English. (Only speak in English with my daughter, obviously the vocabularies used aren't as much as those in written texts).

If I don't speak much in English, then when did I actually learn speaking? Since I was small, I really love to read English books loudly.  I am sure it helps me to let my tongue get used to say English words. Other than that, it's important too to speak to yourself in English. Not necessarily in front of a mirror, you can even practice it while lying down. Choose any topic that you want, and then talk to yourself in English.

Lots of people say they learn a lot from watching movies & listening to English songs. I am not sure how much it helps, because I don't learn English through movie or songs. However, I don't deny that we can improve our vocabularies and listening skill by doing so. :)

Anyway, another final note to add, for writing, I benefited a lot from my readings. I learn new words, how to construct sentences, phrases, idioms, and many more. As for speaking, listening to other people speaking (in my case, I love listening to English motivational talk or Islamic lectures) helped me a lot in improving my speaking skill. So I guess, these four skills- reading/writing/speaking/listening can't be separated if we want to improve our language proficiency.

Till then,

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