Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

Studying English? 4 Crucial Tactics You Should Use

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Mon, Nov 05, 2012 @ 09:37 AM

tactics for people studying English, brain with lettersAre you living in the United States and studying English to move up in your career? 

Do you feel frustrated because you struggle but you know how important English is for you to be able to communicate with colleagues and clients every day?

If so, you have probably realized that the old methods that were used by your high school English teachers in your native country won't work for you now.

Did they even work while you were in school? For many of our students at English and Culture, the answer is no, those old methods didn't work.

English education in many countries includes repetition and grammar drills and involves very few speaking activities where students can use their skills in authentic situations. Does this bring back any scary memories?

Don't worry! There is a better way to do it. In today's article, we have four tactics that, according to Michael Giesler, Vice President at Middlebury College, you should be using when you study a new language. Check them out and if you are not currently using these tactics, we'll suggest some ways you can start using them to improve your English today.


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4 Tactics You Should Use When You Study English



1) Use the language:

 study English by interacting in classThis sounds obvious, right?

Sure it does but believe it or not, I run into a lot of students who spend a ton of time "studying" English but never actually "using" it.

Why? It's more comfortable and less scary that way!

If you are doing this, it's time to make some changes to your approach to learning English. Your number one goal should be communication.

For that reason, you should be focusing on taking classes that use a communication- based method, setting up your own English language exchange sessions and speaking for several hours each day.



2) Use the language for a purpose:

take a cooking class to study EnglishMichael Giesler also suggests that students will be more successful if they use the language to do something else.

If you are living in Boston or somewhere else in the United States, you could implement this into your strategy by joining a meetup based on your favorite hobby. Do you like to take photos? Hike? Play chess? Cook? Great, there is a meetup group for you.

Join the meetup and immerse yourself in the conversation about your hobby or speak English while taking part in your hobby or interest.

Take the focus off of the learning process and make English a way to do something you love. Learning English doesn't have to be a chore! Take part in your hobbies while you speak English. You will have more fun and undoubtedly you will see faster progress.



3) Use the language in context:

 study English in context, restaurants and cafesBy learning a language in a specific context, such as a hospital or restaurant setting, Giesler said, we are able to use nonverbal or "nonlinguistic" cues.

In these learning situations, we can use all of our senses including acting out a role play and using visuals to help figure out meanings and communicate our message. 

I have noticed that our students tend to become more motivated when they learn a particular phrase or grammar point and then have the opportunity to use that phrase in real situations. It can also be motivating to hear an idiom or phrasal verb being used by native speakers, after having studied that idiom in English class. It is an exciting moment when we realize that what we are learning is indeed real and important for communication!

Try to learn English in as many real and authentic situations as you can.



4) Use the language to interact with people:

 study English, two people interacting at a conferenceEven in the current digital revolution, as we are trying to automate everything and replace humans with computers, language learning is still about connections between people.

You will not reach your goals if you limit your studying to your grammar book. When you interact with a person while learning a language, you receive direct feedback and, according to Giesler, that is crucial.

Make language learning social. Get out and speak with people!




How many of these strategies are you currently using to study English? How could you change your learning methods to maximize the investment of time and money that you are putting into learning English? If what you are currently doing isn't working, change it. Reach out to us if you have any questions or want to continue this conversation!



Speak English with Confidence NOW




Photo credits: Official GDC, .v1ctor. jaygooby, Shane Global Language Centres

Article: October 27, 2012. Tsui, B. What's the secret to learning a second language? Salon.

Topics: Advice for English Students, How to Learn English

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