These are things to keep in mind as you improve your English in 2019. With the internet and websites like italki it's easier than ever before to take your English to the next level! It just takes a bit of dedication. Without further introduction, let's get right to it.
1) Find ways to enjoy the process
Learning a language will be so much easier if you find ways to have fun along the way. Most people hated their high school language classes. Why? Well, because they weren't any fun. I know that my Spanish classes in high school were super boring. A few years ago I realized my Spanish needed a lot of improvement so I started looking for music, TV series and YouTube videos in Spanish. Nowadays, many of my favorite rappers and musicians in general are Spanish-speakers. I listen to their music because I genuinely want to. I'm addicted! Listening to music in Spanish isn't a chore for me. It's fun, and I listen to it every day because I genuinely want to.
It'll be different for everyone, but find something to watch, listen to, or read that you are genuinely into. You're lucky, because there are countless options for music, TV shows, and other media in English. Learning should be fun! Find something you enjoy doing! It can be music, TV, movies, podcasts, novels or blogs – doesn't matter. If you find enjoyable ways to practice, you'll be motivated and excited to continue learning.
2) Learning English is about communication
It's pretty simple, but I know it can be easy to forget. People learn languages to communicate with other human beings. If you're a beginner, at some point you will need to begin practicing with someone. Why not now? Even if you are an advanced speaker, it's important to remember that communication is the purpose. Don't worry about making mistakes while speaking. Language is about communicating and making connections with other people. Focus more on the content of the conversation and worry less about making mistakes.
3) It's all about progress – things take time
When it comes to learning languages, I'm not always the most patient person. I often feel like I'm progressing too slowly. When I think back to a year earlier, however and compare it to my current level I feel much better, because I have improved a lot since then. You might not be satisfied with your current English level, but you should be happy as long as you see continuous progress. How does your current level compare to your level three months ago? What about a year ago? If you've made progress, then keep up the good work!
4) Learning to speak like a native speaker is learning to think like one
Have you ever heard someone say “I feel like a different person when I speak in my second language.”? That's a good thing. If someone is able to speak like a native speaker, that means they can also imitate body-language, tell similar jokes, and understand (most) cultural references. Some people have a very high level of English, but still seem very foreign because they don't act like a native speaker. Now, let's be clear. Reaching “native level” isn't necessary for most people, but making your speech more natural will help conversations flow more smoothly. So next time you're talking in English, remember to put on your “English speaking hat” and think like a native speaker. Have confidence!
5) Consistency makes the biggest difference!
The time you study/practice doesn't matter nearly as much as your “streak.” If you've ever used Duolingo or Memrise you know that the apps encourage you to hit a daily goal and maintain a streak. Set practical goals for yourself. Setting monthly goals helps me a lot. For example, two monthly goals you could try are: “spend 10 minutes every day on Memrise or Duolingo” and “read two news articles each day in English.”
A one-hour English class, once a week, really won't help you much if it's the only thing you are doing. BUT, ten minutes a day, six days a week, will help you a lot. Even a little bit of time CONSISTENTLY will help you tremendously.
Many of these were general ideas that you have probably heard before, but they are important to keep in mind! As you're learning and improving your English this year remember to have fun and stay consistent. You'll be speaking fluently before you know it. Time flies when you're having fun, right? Get out there and find a new and cool way to practice your English.
Hero image by Nathan McBride on Unsplash