• Why? The first and most important thing you should do is to be clear about why you are going to improve your English. You need to understand your motivation. What will it do for you? In a new job? Studying abroad? Travelling and communicating in English confidently? Watching films etc in English and realising you no longer need the subtitles, It is amazing how often we start, or we continue doing, something in life and we then we lose sight of why we are doing it. When this happens our motivation begins to die and our ability to do it well goes down and down. Remind yourself why every day.


  • Be realistic! When you are setting your goals for how good you want to be. Set yourself realistic and achievable goals. Language learners can often make the mistake of setting themselves unrealistic goals, wanting to be perfect and not giving themselves realistic timeframes. Consider what opportunities you have for learning, what you want to use your English for, how much time you have to give to learning and improving. And, unless you want to be a lawyer in an English speaking country, perfection is not required.


  • Read everything and anything. Nothing you read is a waste of time. From books, articles, English subtitles to food packets, shop signs and street signs in films you’re watching and everything in between with a word in. Everything is good. Reading gives you time to focus on the meaning of individual words and expressions, expands your vocabulary & helps you to see patterns and structures. Nobody will ever speak their own or any other language well without being a reader.


  • A little and often. If, like most adult learners, you don’t have a lot of time remember 10 or 15 minutes practice every day is so much better for you than 1 or 2 hours once a week. It won’t seem like such hard work, it won’t disrupt your day, you will remember anything new much more easily and, it could even make a nice break in your normal day.


  • Podcasts. Exercise your listening skills. You don’t need to stop what you’re doing. Going to and from work, doing the housework, taking the dog for a walk. Kill two birds with one stone and listen to a podcast. There are so many free resources on the internet. A good place to start is here http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/


  • Language exchange. Find a language partner. There are many conversation exchange sites on the internet where you can practice your English with a native speaker in exchange for you helping them to improve their knowledge of your language. For example: www.italki.com/partners


  • Phrasal Verbs!!  sorry about these! I have had students who love learning phrasal verbs and trying to work out their meaning…but not very many! There is not, unfortunately, a quick or easy way to learn them but, you know lots of them already: wake up, sit down, go out. The more you read, listen, speak, the quicker they will become part of your vocabulary and the more easily you will be able to identify them when you come across them. Don’t be afraid of them. Also, it is only when you are listening to native speakers that they become very important.


  • Personalise. When you learn new vocabulary such as phrasal verbs write sentences of your own using the new vocabulary, which are personal to you, which have specific meaning for you. This way you will remember the new vocabulary much more easily. You can also do this with new grammar structures. If something has relevance to you it will stay in your mind much more easily than if it does not. When I first moved to my new area I immediately remembered where the wine shops and pet shops were the first time I walked past them but had no idea if there was a garage  because I don’t have a car, but I do drink wine and have dogs. I couldn’t remember because it wasn’t relevant to me.


  • Feel the fear and do it anyway! One of the biggest problems us learners of foreign languages have, particularly adults, is that we are frightened of making mistakes or feeling stupid. Well, so what if we make mistakes, native speakers make them all the time. Every mistake that we make is a step forward. Keep your goals in sight at all times. Never forget that what you are doing is opening up a world of opportunities and possibilities.


  • Find a wonderful teacher! Fortunately for you, if you are reading this, you have already found my website. Job done!

In a new job? Studying abroad? Travelling and communicating in English confidently? Watching films etc in English and realising you no longer need the subtitles,

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