As an ESL teacher, the question my students ask me most often is, “How can I learn English quickly?” I tell them that you can’t learn English quickly just as I can’t learn their language quickly. However, I do give them some tips to make their language learning more effective and successful.
I like to read books about successful people and what habits successful people have. Here is what I tell my students.
1. Take notes. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, etc but take notes. You can correct the spelling and grammar later.
2. Set goals. Write those goals down on paper and check off the goals as you accomplish them. For example, the goal might be to read one English publication every day for a week. The subgoals might look like the following:
- Sunday – Read Sunday newspaper.
- Monday – Read as many store signs and advertisements as possible on my way to and from work.
- Tuesday – Read a sports magazine.
- Wednesday – Read the daily newspaper.
- Thursday – Begin reading a book.
- Friday – Read a news magazine.
- Saturday – Read an entertainment magazine.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice! How do the best field goal kickers become the best? They practice kicking hundreds of field goals every day. How does a successful salesperson make those sales? They practice their craft everyday. Learning a language is an action. It requires practice everyday.
4. Be persistent! Begin a conversation with the person sitting next to you (in English) on the bus. Shop in stores where you have to speak English. Become involved in the English-speaking activities in your community.
5. Don’t focus on the negative! Everyone makes mistakes. I got a low test score. I made an embarrassing speaking error. I didn’t do well on that homework assignment. So what! Acknowledge your mistakes, review and learn from them, and then move on! When a goalee misses a shot and the other team scores, he or she doesn’t walk off the field and quit! When a baseball player gets caught stealing a base, he or she doesn’t quit baseball! When a successful salesperson gets rejection, he or she doesn’t find a new profession! Remember – successful people do the things that unsuccessful people don’t do!
6. Walk the Walk. Picture yourself as the person you want to be. If you want to be a person who speaks English, picture yourself as an English-speaking person. What does an English-speaking person look like (in terms of their behavior)? What do they do when they need directions? They ask in English. What do they do when they want to find out the daily news? They read an English newspaper. You get the idea.
You can’t learn a language or any subject overnight. However, incorporate these habits and you will learn whatever you want to learn more quickly.