1. Is it essential to learn English?
Not essential no but it is important. If you learn English and can speak it, you will have more opportunities in your life for work, study, friendship, socialization and travelling. You will also get more self-confidence in the process.
2. Why is it important to learn English?
English is the international language of communication for education, science, politics, economics, medicine, commerce and sport and it will make your life easier when you go travelling, listen to western music, watch Hollywood movies or European football matches.
3. Can I learn English quickly?
Yes you can but not fully of course and it depends entirely on you and your commitment to learning the language. Some people pick up speaking the language quickly in a matter of days or weeks while others take several months. The basics of English can be learnt in three months but intensive study and practice of English over say a two to three year period will yield better results in terms of comprehension, competence and fluency.
4. How do you suggest English should be learnt?
Learning English is always work in progress. You should aim to learn new vocabulary everyday and interact with English as much as possible in your daily life through listening to music, watching television or movies, reading books, using the internet and face to face communication with someone else who speaks English, not necessarily a native speaker.
5. What do you mean – not necessarily a native speaker?
It would be nice to speak with a native speaker to practice your English but one is not always around when you need him or her, so the next best option is to speak with someone such as a classmate or colleague at work who can speak English with you. While travelling, you might meet someone who is not a native speaker but speaks English.
6. What actions should I take to learn English?
As I have suggested above, interaction with somebody else who speaks English is very important. Take an English course in a school or college, study English further online using audio visual. Embrace English as a part of your life. Use your smartphone device or handwritten notebook to keep a record of new words you learn, short phrases, idioms etc. A more imaginative approach might be to put post-it stickers around your bedroom or home to help you memorize faster the important words and phrases.
7. Do I have what it takes to learn English?
Yes of course you do. Everybody can learn English from the beginner as a child or adult to a student who wishes to advance his proficiency in English to a higher level for academic or work purposes. It will depend on your motivation to learn English and commitment to the process.
8. What do you think are the main reasons foreign people learn English?
Work and study overseas are obvious ones. Travelling is another. The Internet as a modern medium brings us into contact with more people around the world than ever before and creates a purpose for us to learn English. Perhaps it might be only to sing along with the latest Taylor Swift songs or to engage in computer gaming or chatting but the reasons for learning English are many.
9. How can I improve my current level of English?
The English language is all about confidence, practice, comprehension and proficiency. Once you understand the basics of English beyond just saying ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’, once you grasp the function of English in everyday speaking and understand how and why many of the words are formed (from French and Latin for example), then you will have the foundation to advance further in your learning of English.
10. What needs to be learnt?
That is almost an impossible question to answer but keep this in mind. The four elements which you must learn in any language are listening, writing, reading and writing. They work hand in hand and you cannot do one without the other. Furthermore, with English, it is important that you learn the seven key components of the language.
11. What are those key seven components?
Those seven key components are nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, conjunctions with prepositions and interjections. If you master those, then you are well on the way to having a sound and functional comprehension of English.
12. Are Grammar and Structure the same?
Not in my opinion no. Grammar is part of Structure but it is not the same. Think of Grammar as the written rules by which the words must be written or spoken whereas Structure should be seen as the method of application of those rules and the substance of the language.
13. Can you give a simple example of what you mean?
Yes I can. You learn the rules for the verb ‘to be’ and ‘to speak’. You learn about using the infinitive with ‘to (to speak) and the continious (speaking). He speak and I speaking areobviously wrong when it should be ‘He speaks’ and ‘I am speaking’. That is an issue of Structure not Grammar. Most Tests are testing you for your comprehension of Structure not Grammar because, as you can see, it is Structure which is used in sentences.
14. How can I improve my speaking?
Most if not all students learning English are afraid of speaking up because they are afraid of making mistakes and being embarrassed in front of others. There is no need to be afraid because everybody learning a language – any language, not just English – make mistakes all the time. The only way you can improve your speaking is to speak up and learn from your mistakes. Speaking up might be in front of the class about yourself or your family or it might be a Powerpoint Presentation. More advanced speakers need to speak well for Speeches, Drama and Debate.
15. What’s the advantage of taking an English language proficiency test?
There are quite a few around such as Cambridge, SAT, TOEFL and IELTS just to mention a few which offer students at an advanced level of English an opportunity to test your competence and proficiency in English. Their main purpose is to provide assessment of your ability based on academic rather than social use for entry into foreign University or for work placement ore advancement. The Test is score-based and valid for a limited period of time, say two years. It serves as an accreditation and thereby gives you advantage to achieve a step-up in your life which would probably not be possible without it.
16. Will I ever speak like a native?
Probably not but there are, of course, many who succeed in imitation. Native speakers speak with many different dialects and accents. Your aim should not be to speak exactly like a native English speaker but to learn about the language from them and to engage with English in a fluid fluent coherent manner.
17. Should I learn formal or informal English?
There is no doubt you need to learn both. At times, you will not know which version of English is formal or informal. Informal English is much more common for speaking whereas Formal English is necessary for writing letters, reports, documents, emails. As an element of both formal and informal English, it is important to learn keyword phrases such as idioms, similes, metaphors, proverbs, catchphrases and slang.
18. How can I improve my writing style and method for Essays?
It may sound silly to say it but writing an Essay is all about style and method. You should get to know well transitional words and phrases which link the things you want to say in an essay, know when and how to create paragraphs and work within a structure which works for an essay every time. Practice writing short essays of between 150-400 words and for a time duration of 25-30 minutes. That is the average time for writing an Essay in TOEFL or IELTS. If you follow this way of thinking, you will be able to write an essay on any topic. Writing an essay is usually not about getting an award for expressing a great new idea but about showing your level of proficiency in written English and actually addressing the essay topic correctly.
19. Do you agree with Multiple Choice Questions in Tests?
They do seem to be favoured by the educational institutions in testing students as to their comprehension of English. In theory, it is possible for a student to do well in a Proficiency Test by scoring high without having a sound comprehension of basic English as it happens more by luck than judgment. As students progress through the educational system, they have become comfortable and accustomed to the multiple choice method. Not only that but with the sheer volume of tests which will be taken by students, processing variable answers to multiple questions without being multiple choice presents difficulties in time management to the teachers and examiners who mark them on a manual basis.
20. Do you have any final tips to help me in the English learning process?
Only very simple and obvious common-sense ones. Study English in a classroom environment either at a school or in college. Be serious in your intent to learn English, motivated and committed. Engage with English as much as possible in your daily life with listening, reading, writing and speaking. Write new words down, learn and practice them often in sentences and phrases. Never be afraid to speak up or of making mistakes. Follow the suggestions which I have made on the blog for reading narratives, short essays, conversation scripts, memorizing them and always try to speak aloud without reading, as that will be the ultimate test in how well you have learnt English.