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English Help, Advice and Tips

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General

Decide why you want to study English. Keep this in mind when studying gets tough.

Regular study is important. Try to study a little and often, 30 minutes a day is better than 3 1/2 hours once a week.

Motivate yourself by studying for an exam eg TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication).

Listening

Try watching movies and tv programmes, and listening to the radio, in English. Don't be discouraged if you can't understand everything first time, the more you listen the more you will understand. With movies on video, if you find it difficult, don't try to watch everything at once; watch a little at a time, checking any new words in your dictionary.

Tape record English radio programmes, listen to them several times.

Listen to songs. Follow the lyrics sheet that often comes with a CD. Try to write the lyrics of a song only by listening to it; you'll probably need to listen several times with many pauses. The lyrics of many songs can be found on the Internet, try starting with a search engine such as Google or Yahoo. By listening to the native languages in both song and in person, you will have a better understanding.

Speaking

Practice introducing yourself in English.

Prepare a 5 minute presentation on a subject that interests you. Share it with your friends.

Speak to as many English people as possible; if you see English people in your country, say hello and ask if they need any help.

Have an "English Only" party with your friends. Have English food, beer and conversation!

Reading

Read newspaper and magazine articles that interest you.

Subscribe to an English newspaper or magazine or read one regularly on the Internet; see the links page.

When you find new words try to guess their meaning before looking at them in the dictionary.

Practice reading quickly, without re-reading, to see how much you can understand (this can also help your listening).

Practice different kinds of reading:

  • Scanning is reading for specific information, eg reading some adverts to find the ones that interest you.
  • Skimming (or reading for gist) is reading to get the main point of a piece of text, eg you might do this with a newspaper or magazine to decide which articles to read in full.

Writing

Keep a diary. For each day consider the "WH"-questions (what, where, who, when, why, how).

Write reviews of movies you've seen, restaurants you've eaten at etc. Describe them and say what you liked - and didn't like about them.

Find some English speaking penpals or email friends to practice real English communication with. Our International Friendship page has lots of links to free penpal sites on the Web.

Write letters to newspapers and magazines on subjects that interest you.

Vocabulary

Read newspaper and magazine articles that interest you. Write down any new or difficult words. Try to guess what you think they mean from how they are used. Check the meanings in a dictionary.

Try using an English-English dictionary before looking at the translation of new words. Try the Oxford Elementary Learner's Dictionary of English, or Collins COBUILD Advanced Learners English Dictionary.

Write down and check new words or expressions you hear in movies, songs etc.

Do crossword puzzles and other word games.

Set yourself targets for learning new words - eg try to learn 10 new words a week.

Grammar

Most native speakers NEVER learn rules of grammar.

English grammar rules are complex and have many exceptions. It is best to learn grammar by hearing and reading as much natural English as you can.

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