“What we learn with pleasure we never forget.”
Alfred Mercier, an American poet and playwright
A few days ago I asked a friend if she likes learning French. She answered, “It’s really hard, and people rarely like what is really hard.” Her answer turned out to be very thought-provoking and even inspired me to write this article. To be honest, I think my friend is right if she means boring and time-consuming by the word hard, and we really seem to avoid such activities. But when you learn a foreign language, it’s absolutely necessary for you to surround yourself with the language: listen, read, write and speak as much as possible. We can think about it as time-consuming, which is discouraging, or change our attitude and think about it as an enriching experience without even focusing on how long the learning process takes. There is such a thing as lifelong learning. It means pursuing knowledge all your life for personal or professional reasons. In my opinion, it should be joyful, not stressful. The concept of lifelong learning is especially relevant in the context of language learning because it’s a bit like sport. If you stop practicing, your skills get rusty very quickly. So, when it comes to learning English or any other language, the first thing to do is to make sure you like it, otherwise it’s just a waste of time.
I know learners whose joy is taken away by mistakes they make. So, my first teacher’s tip is understand that there is no way you can avoid mistakes. Only the one who doesn’t do anything is never wrong. So you shouldn’t be afraid of it, get discouraged or think that English is not for you. Anyone can learn a language! But you must remember that you need 3 things:
- Motivation. If you understand what you need English for, what opportunities it opens up, then you work harder and you can make progress pretty fast.
- Curiosity. English is full of nuances which may be different from those in your first language. You must be willing to discover and work on them. But don’t worry – those differences are beautiful things which make the language a whole new world for you to explore. It is very interesting to do if you are ready to take your time and have a closer look at English.
- A little time. Some think that learning a language is very time-consuming (my friend learning French is just like that). However, it’s not as time-consuming as you might think. If you spend at least 30 minutes a day to read an interesting article, watch a video or chat with your friend in English, it is pretty good.
Here are some things which can put some fun into your learning:
Please don’t start with original texts of Shakespeare’s texts. Don’t overestimate yourself and take a short book adapted to suit your level. Moreover, there are readers with a CD. So, you can read and listen to what you are reading at the same time, improving 2 skills simultaneously. In addition, you will hear the right pronunciation of new words.
And there is one more thing. Don’t be too lazy to use a dictionary. Remember that a good dictionary (Google Translate is not a dictionary) is a must-have for every learner. It will give you all necessary information about any word.
We all listen to music and like many English songs, don’t we? So, why not have some quality listening time? Choose a song you like, find its lyrics and make sure you understand each and every word as well as grammar used in the song. If you can sing, you are really lucky because singing can help you remember new words easily and having fun. Remember that a song can be a great learning material – it shows what people actually say and how they do it in real life. So keep your ears open!
There are many videos for English learners on YouTube now. You can find a short grammar or vocabulary lesson (topics like pronunciation or exam preparation are also popular) and it won’t take you too long to watch it. But this activity can be very good for you because the videos are not only informative. They give you a chance to listen to native or near-native speakers, which is essential for listening skills development.
CHATS & FORUMS
Isn’t it great to have friends from all over the world and use a common language to communicate? Well, this common language is likely to be English because it’s truly the language of international communication. Modern technologies open up marvelous opportunities for language learners these days and it’s a shame not to use them! Find a language exchange partner or a teacher online, post your question and get a detailed answer on websites like Stackexchange.com, join chat rooms and discuss topics interesting to you in English… There are many options, and chances are you will find something that appeals to you and is good for your English skills.
Sure enough, watching films is of the most enjoyable ways to learn English, but it’s not the easiest way. You might be frustrated by so many words you don’t understand or accents which seem to be incomprehensible. Please don’t be stressed out! If your level if lower that upper-intermediate, put off watching films and enjoy short videos instead. They are much easier in comparison with full-length films.
So, choose the activity you like and pursue your English goals in the most enjoyable way! Remember that learning should be a pleasure, not a heavy burden. Learn, enjoy yourself, love English!