The following article by ESL teacher Michael Chtcherbitski is focused on
learning English, but the principles here are very effective for learning
any language. Many of the techniques he suggests I have found myself
(through much trial and error) and are similar to some techniques used by
popular internet polyglots like Benny Lewis and Moses McCormick. Michael has
done the hard work to put all this into a one page guide and I would recommend
to a student of any language to use this as a general blueprint for the
kinds of learning tools you need and how to use them.
Tips and Advice on English Conversation and Vocabulary Learning.
I have found important information that may be valuable for all students of English. I am a former English (ESL) teacher. I have undertaken a thorough comprehensive research on the most effective methods and aids for learning English. Those aids include audios, videos, websites, study books, etc. I want to share with you that information for English language learners.
Of course, everyday talking in English to native English speakers on a variety of topics helps best in order to be able to speak English fluently. But relatively few learners of English have such long-term opportunity. To eventually be able to speak English fluently, first of all one must have materials with important content on all everyday topics (audios, videos, printed texts/study books, etc.) for beginning, intermediate and advanced levels of study. The materials must include dialogs, monologues (thematic texts), questions - answers with important content, thematic lists of difficult word meanings and phrases (expressions) with usage sentences, and comprehensive vocabulary on all everyday topics. I believe that one can master English conversation and vocabulary with the following methods:
1. One must listen to each sentence in conversations (thematic dialogs) in audio materials several times and see printed texts at the same time, and understand everything in those sentences clearly.
2. One must read (pronounce) each sentence aloud and compare one's pronunciation to the announcer's pronunciation.
3. Speaking activity with self-control. One must check if one can orally convey the content of those dialogs closely to the original dialogs as much as possible, that is try to be an actor for both speakers in the dialogs. The most important thing is to speak English yourself, and to check in printed conversations (dialogs) whether you have made any mistakes in speaking.
One can also make one's own written questions on the dialogs that require long answers contained in the dialogs to facilitate (make easier) one's imitation of the dialogs. Alternatively, one can write key words and phrases, or main ideas as a plan to make easier for one to imitate those dialogs.
4. One must also prepare potential questions and answers with important content on all everyday topics and practice speaking. To show different ways of expressing one's thought one can make several potential questions and answers on one point in this speaking activity. There are two websites that contain alot of ready-made questions in English on a large variety of topics: www.esldiscussions.com and iteslj.org.
5. One must have lists of difficult word meanings and of phrases (expressions)on every topic with usage sentences. One must read those ready-made vocabulary usage sentences many times if needed. Longman Language Activator Dictionary (unique English Idea Production Dictionary) covers this issue thoroughly. One must also make one's own sentences with that vocabulary, taking into consideration real life situations.
6. One can learn a lot of vocabulary on every topic from thematic English dictionaries. Good thematic English dictionaries provide clear word usage explanations and also a few usage sentences for each word meaning, which is especially important. One must also make one's own sentences with difficult vocabulary. Think about the real life situations where and when thatvocabulary can be used.
7. One can also learn English vocabulary by reading thematic texts (materials), first of all on everyday topics with important content, for example: Practical Tips and Advice to Make Everyday Life Easier and Better (practical solutions for everyday problems). Such self-help books on settling everyday matters are available at book stores. One must write down unknown vocabulary in whole sentences. One must practice telling the content of the texts that one has read. As people say, practice makes perfect.
8. Constant review of material ensures solid knowledge and success in learning.
9. One must also make use of other important aids on a variety of
topics to improve one's English conversation and vocabulary skills: audios,
videos (English learning videos, travel videos, etc.), Internet resources,
English learning magazines, newspapers, newsletters, radio programs (especially
the BBC English learning programs/materials), TV programs (educational programs,
documentary films, movies, news), books and e-books on a variety of subjects,
online communication with native English speakers (chat, by email, by Skype).
Good libraries have a wide selection of English learning
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"Every American child should grow up knowing a second language, preferably English."
- Mignon McLaughlin