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January 25, 2017

Six Tips to Make English Easier

English can be tricky, but don’t let it slow you down

The Speaking Partners program is designed to help students learn English; however, only speaking English for thirty minutes a week may not be sufficient for some students to feel confident in their skills. While it may not provide all the resources an English-learner needs, there are outside activities you can practice to master the language quickly.

1. Set Goals and Have a Purpose

Have a strong purpose behind learning English and decide on something that will motivate you. Learn English to pass classes but also to get a job promotion or to increase your knowledge of your own language’s structure. You’ll find that you are more dedicated to learning.1

Creating goals can help provide motivation to push through difficult challenges — like learning a language. A previous article, “Boost Your Productivity,” provides excellent tips on setting goals. Review those guidelines, create realistic goals, and decide on a purpose. For example, learn a set number of words daily (maybe fifteen words related to your upcoming lesson) or complete exercises with a certain grade (85 percent or higher). Be specific, and make it a challenge.

Pathway has continued to grow in Ecuador.

PathwayConnect has continued to grow in Ecuador, where students work hard to improve their English as well as learn the other curriculum.

Applying this to Speaking Partners: ask your speaking partner for help pronouncing difficult words and ask for synonyms. If you’re really struggling with a word, ask your speaking partner to use it in a sentence.

2. Use Multiple Resources

People who have learned a second language say it comes faster when you immerse yourself in the language. Listen to music, watch shows, and read books in English.2 Let Google Chrome mix in some English words! Find opportunities to practice and expose yourself to the language. These do not have to be costly — many great resources are free and will allow you to interact with the language daily.3

DuoLingo is a free website and app that helps with language learning. If you know someone who speaks English, practice with them and keep the conversation flowing. For those who like to listen to language interplays, BYU TV is a great resource. English subtitles on movies in your native language can help, too.

Applying this to Speaking Partners: Ask your speaking partner if they have a favorite Mormon Message, chapter in the Book of Mormon, or conference talk. Then, watch or read it in English.

3. Have Fun Practicing

Practicing may seem tedious or bothersome, but if you make it fun, you’ll learn English faster and get more out of it.4 Let people quiz you or make games you can play throughout the day. You might consider putting English labels on household items; as you learn their names, challenge yourself to describe them in English as you use them.

Look for patterns, cognates (words that are similar in your native language and English), and mnemonics (something that aids your memory using patterns, ideas, or associations) and write them down.5 You might even consider translating literature in your native language into English to the best of your ability.

Applying this to Speaking Partners: Have your speaking partner help you come up with games to practice vocabulary from the lesson or other material. Tell stories that relate to the lessons and get to know each other better. Ask your speaking partner his/her favorite word.

A group of students in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, enjoy spending time with the friends they have made in PathwayConnect.

4. Be Dedicated

While all of the above are important, you need to spend a significant amount of time each week learning and reviewing to make the language stick. This means practice, practice, practice. You don’t want to forget what you’ve learned and stop moving forward. Practice until your brain feels exhausted and you know your time was well-used and not half-hearted.6

You might find you are meeting your goals too easily. If that’s the case, do more. Always look for instances where you can increase your learning and continue progressing. Stick to it and learn as much as you can. Preach My Gospel encourages language learners to “learn new concepts thoroughly.”7 Don’t just learn the basics; go deep and master the language.

Applying this to Speaking Partners: Share what you learned about English during the week; maybe you learned a grammar rule your speaking partner didn’t know!

5. Keep Asking Questions

If you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask. Even native speakers have to ask questions sometimes. If you can’t ask someone, carry a pocket dictionary or use a dictionary app. This can be incredibly beneficial.8 It’s a complex language full of rules and exceptions that most English speakers are happy to explain or research with you. Don’t be shy!

Students in Uruguay feel blessed to have Pathway in their country.

Students in Uruguay feel blessed to have PathwayConnect in their country.

If you don’t understand instructions or terminology for an assignment, don’t hesitate to ask your instructor or classmate. Your success is important, and getting answers will help you excel.

Applying this to Speaking Partners: Come with a list of questions to discuss. Your speaking partner wants to help and has the ability and resources to do so.

6. Give It Your Best

Wherever you’re at in your English learning, these tools can help make the process go faster and help you master the language. Don’t worry about being fluent! According to Global Language Monitor, there are over one million words in the English language, and language never stops changing because cultures are always changing.9 Native speakers don’t know them all, so don’t think you need to know them all either. Just do your best, and you’ll be carrying smooth conversations soon!

Find out how Felipe Bento not only improved his English; he improved his employment.

We would love to hear how you’ve learned a new language or activities you do to help you learn! Share them with us and other PathwayConnect students.

  1. ^How Can I Better Learn My Mission Language?” Preach My Gospel, (2004), 127-36.
  2. ^ Holly Young, “Learning a language — 10 things your need to know,” The Guardian, Oct 30, 2014.
  3. ^ Krystian Apartsa, “How to learn a new language: 7 secrets from TED Translators,” TED Blog, Nov 4, 2014.
  4. ^ John-Erik Jordan, “10 Tips And Tricks To Learn Any Language,” Babbel Magazine.
  5. ^ Tim Ferriss, “12 Rules for Learning Foreign Languages in Record Time — The Only Post You’ll Ever Need,” Four Hour Work Week, Mar 21, 2014.
  6. ^ Mark Manson, “22 Tips For Learning a Foreign Language,” MarkManson.net, May 24, 2012.
  7. ^How Can I Better Learn My Mission Language?” Preach My Gospel, (2004), 127-36.
  8. ^ Mark Manson, “22 Tips For Learning a Foreign Language,” MarkManson.net, May 24, 2012.
  9. ^ Holly Young, “Learning a language — 10 things your need to know,” The Guardian, Oct 30, 2014.

Comments on "Six Tips to Make English Easier"

This is a great post!

Dannielle Hext says:

Thanks! We hope it’s helpful to all the students learning English right now.

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