Five Effective Ways To Improve Your English Quickly and Effectively
Learning English is by no means an easy task. As with most languages, it takes years of rigorous practice and dedication to gain a certain level of proficiency. I have seen many a person stumble and stutter, grappling to use the appropriate word in daily conversation, perhaps omitting a preposition or two, and ending up with a distinctively awkward and uncouth phrasing of sentences. And this holds true not only for the average Joe out there but also for people who have studied in reputed English medium schools. You read that right. I am even talking about the ones who have passed out from schools like DPS, Modern School and other convent learning centres. Unless there is a concerted effort on your own part, no amount of good schooling can make you adept in any language.
So what’s the deal here…is there any short-term solution to quickly improve your English? For instance, if you are graduating in about, say six months, then what should your strategy be to enhance your linguistic skills- both written and verbal?
Here are five effective, time-tested ways which if followed with serious diligence and commitment, will remarkably improve your English skills within a period of 3-4 months:
Read daily, read more: An oft-repeated and axiomatic fact is that reading is of cardinal importance to build your English skills. Reading helps to boost your comprehension skills, and also enables you to understand the semantics and syntax of the language. What a particular sentence or phrase might mean in different situations- the understanding comes only if you are a voracious reader. Good books are available aplenty and you can go for whatever kindles your interest, fiction or non-fiction.
Now the problem with reading is that it doesn’t enthuse many people. No one wants to read lengthy verbiage when you can catch a TV show or movie in the same time. Moreover, with the explosion of social media-driven content, our mental wiring has changed to the extent that finishing a complete novel (even gulp fiction like the stuff that Chetan Bhagat writes) becomes a herculean task. For this, I would advise readers to follow respected news websites such as The Guardian and New Yorker that have concise, well-articulated opinion pieces. Better still, read the print newspaper. Subscribe to The Hindu or any other newspaper that you like, and go through the entire editorial page without fail on a daily basis. Read them and analyse what the writer is trying to say and the prose that is being used to get the point across. I would strongly suggest to avoid clickbait sites like ScoopWhoop and Storypick- these are filled with inane stuff that seem to have been written by some teeny-bopper excited for the latest episode of the Vampire Diaries.
Note down sentences: YES. Take a pen and notebook, and write down complete sentences or particular phrases that catch your eye. Many instructors advise their students to highlight alien words and then understand the context in which they have been used. Alas, this approach doesn’t work out too well and it becomes overwhelming to keep track of so many strange sounding words all of a sudden. You need to, I repeat, note down entire sentences in a copy and then discuss with your friends and teachers the possibilities of using that phrase in various contexts. Once this is done, you should make it a point to use that same sentence in the coming days in oral or written communication. You will gradually feel an improvement in your vocabulary as well as a surge in confidence levels during interpersonal communication. On a side note, I would also suggest everyone to buy ‘Word Power Made Easy’ by Norman Lewis. It is a must-have for anyone aiming to boost their vocab skills.
Form discussion groups: This step is really important because it will allow you to have hands-on practice, in addition to the theoretical lessons. Form a study group with other like-minded friends and then conduct group discussions, mock interviews and general sessions on grammar, punctuation, reading skills et al to constantly evaluate yourself. This will not only broaden your horizon on various political and socio-economic issues that drive the media narrative but also provide perspective on how different events around the world impact the English language. For example, you will become aware of the increasing influence of internet lingo such as YOLO and ROFL, which were recent additions to the Oxford Dictionary, or the term Brexit and its impact on the global financial markets. Such discussions will provide you a holistic view of the language and make you more confident regarding current affairs.
Do real-world practice: This is even more important than step 3. Your English as well your communication skills in the language will take a backseat if you are too panic-stricken to deal with the real world. Ordering a pizza? Have to speak with a customer representative? Talk in English. Even among friends and family members, converse in English. Make it a point that most of your communication has to necessarily be in English. For the shy among you, there is no shame in admitting that you are working to improve your skills. Initially, you will fumble and hesitate, and will probably think of it as some scary task that makes you a nervous wreck the moment you think about it. But remember, in the long run, you will reap rich dividends when you successfully crack that interview which you had been so dreading to face.
Watch English TV shows and movies with subtitles: The entertainment industry is churning out content at a breakneck speed and we all have become avid consumers with the myriad options available. A movie or TV show can be downloaded through the numerous torrent sites (many are overflowing with virus and malware, so be careful) or watched on Netflix or Youtube. Though this has resulted in a lot less reading being done by the millennials, it can actually be channeled into a productive mode of improving English. These shows and movies have different premises and depict various situations in which the character find themselves in. Watch every episode carefully and keep note of the onscreen subtitles. The expressions and emotions will come alive through the written text and it will help you understand how social conversations go about. You can even follow up on those shows and movies by reading articles on popular social media sites like Gizmodo, Mashable, Complex Mag, Daily Beast etc. All the latest fan theories, predictions and Easter eggs are covered in articles that make for an extremely interesting read. So yes, entertainment can also prove to be an effective source to boost your English skills!