I am often asked by learners, including my clients, what is the best way to practise and consequently improve their English Language skills. My response often varies depending on who the learner is. I try to advise them taking into account their learning methods, general interests and time they have available to dedicate to their learning.
However, I feel that great advice to learners can also come from other learners and not just teachers. There isn’t only one approach to learning a language and whilst a teacher/coach can provide the tools to facilitate learning, ultimately it’s up to the learner to work out what works for them.
So I decided to ask some of my clients if they would be willing to share their experiences of learning and practising their language and what tips they would offer their fellow learners in the form of a guest post on this blog.
The first client I asked was Alessandra who seized the opportunity with great enthusiasm. I have been teaching Alessandra online for just under a year. She is a corporate lawyer based in Milan. We have a conversation class once a week. Alessandra is passionate about learning the English Language and is a joy to teach.
I have pleasure in introducing you to Alessandra.
I’ve been asked by my lovely English teacher, Shanthi to write about my learning process and what makes it ( hopefully) a success and – above all- a pleasure.
Photo: The Bright Old Oak
I studied English for 8 years at school – a long time ago. After graduating from university, I tried not to lose my English but it was not always easy. I didn’t have classes or online courses until 2012 when a South African company took over the company I was working for and my boss organized a two- month English course for all the directors of the board. On that occasion, I found out that I remembered something and could speak, but I was no longer able to listen to the radio or watch TV and really understand the language. What a disappointment!
First of all, I must say that I’m a mature student. I have a job, a family, a life to live, but about a year ago I started to feel the need to improve my English, that used to be good but not perfect. I wanted to be understood when abroad, to write an e- mail without panicking and to understand most of (not all) the contents of a newspaper. So, I set out to do 3 things which I believe is what my fellow learners should do.
1. Find a teacher
Alessandra’s crazy teacher!
The teacher is, in fact, essential to your learning process. He or she must understand your needs and keep your interests high and your enthusiasm alive, especially when you’re tired or discouraged.
Your teacher must know what to do or what not to do to make you feel confident and still eager to learn.
2. Find something you like and do it in English
The second advice I want to share with my fellow students is this: find something you really like and do it in english.
I love TV dramas, biopics, TV series and entertainment shows like Graham Norton or The David Letterman Show. I started to watch them in English with Italian subtitles, then with English subtitles and, now, I watch them without subtitles!
After a while I found myself able to capture the deeper meaning of the dialogue and, as an old Italian proverb says, ‘I’ve started to understand not only the language but the culture behind it (the dialogue)’.
3. Establish a routine
Now I have an “English” routine. Just as athletes run or swim every day not to lose their fitness, I watch English TV every evening. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Downton Abbey or The Graham Norton Show, I just feel better if I listen to or watch just a little bit of my favourite programmes.
When I feel too tired to deal with something new, I simply watch an episode or an interview I’ve already seen and liked, in order to enjoy myself without being a lazy student.
Learning English seriously (like old age) is not for sissies, so come on, get to work and very soon you’ll find yourself captured by the new, different, amazing and fascinating world of words.
Thank you so much to Alessandra for taking the time to write this post and sharing her learning journey.
If you would like to share your learning journey and any tips that you feel have worked or work for you with me and my readers, I would be thrilled to hear from you. Simply drop me a line here and we can work out a plan.
In the meantime, I hope you liked the post. If you did, please share it. And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss out on my posts.
Ciao for now