Learning English is important, but how to learn English well? Many students moan, “Learning English is hard,” or “I have memorized many words, but I don’t understand what those movies about,” or “My English score is good in school, but I can’t speak English with friends.” Those are a lot of problems in learning English. Certain skills seem to be so easy to certain learners. Maybe speaking can be learned easily, but not reading skill; or reading seems to be so easy, but listening skill is not.
Many teachers in school teach their students English Grammar. They ask students to memorize the Grammar rules. Some private teachers said, "No need to learn English Grammar." They think learning English Grammar is not important. It makes some English learners get confused, "Which one is right?"
For beginner English Learners, I have some advice how to learn English well from the beginning. When you start learning another languages, no words in your mind, you know nothing about English. No words you recognize. You don’t know what English people say, and you can’t say anything with English. You don’t know at all. Do you remember when you are a baby? You can't discuss about politic in that age, right? Now, you are like that baby.
The first time you learn language was with your Mom or Dad. They taught you how to say “Mom” or “Dad”. You listened to them then try to speak such words. Day by day you heard many words from them and neighborhood, and you tried to speak like what they said. Bellow some tips how to learn English well.
1) Listening Skill
Everybody starts learning language through listening. They listen to people then try. In certain schools teachers only teach reading, because the teachers cannot speak English or in the curriculum is only reading skill to be taught. You listened to people then you try to speak like them. You did it many times. So now you can speak fluently. And now, you start learning English. Why don't you do the same as what have you did learning your own language?
However, to learn English well, you should arrange some listening activities. Moreover, for you who live in a country where English speakers are so rare. In my country Indonesia, there are about 726 languages. In my hometown there are two languages: Jawa and Madura. My family speak Madura, but in social we meet a lot of people speak Jawa. So I could easily learn Jawa. No need to join any Jawa classes. If you are surrounded by people who speak English, you can do the same.
For you who don't live with English speaker, I suggest you thematic approach for all skills. To be able to listen to what English speakers said, you need to familiarize your ears with the English sound and English structure. Every language has different sound and structure. For it, you need audio or video of English such as English movie, English news, English dialogue.
The more practices you do, the more familiar you are and the faster you master English listening skill. You can practice by listening to audio with picture or text (subtitle), or watching video on YouTube, or watching movie. Slow motion video is recommended for beginners. Find some videos or audios with the same topics, change with another topics every day or every weeks, etc.
To make you familiar to English sound and structure, do listening exercise every day as long as you can. You don't need to pay attention on the sound. You can let your tape recorder runs, or your TV on, and you do another stuff. It's just to make you familiar with English. Unconsciously you will get used to it.
Bellow is a great YouTube channel to learn English, to increase your vocabulary and improve your listening skill.
2) Practice English Speaking
Practice listening is usually alongside with English speaking practice. Many people understand what English people talking about, but they can't say anything with English. The reason is because they never try to speak English. Spoken English need practice. Thus, spoken English is considered as active skill. Talk about many topics. The more topics you are talking about, your vocabulary will increases and your tongue will be more fluent.
Certain topics could be difficult to talk about, but it doesn't mean you can speak English. You may have a lot of conversation with friends about general topic or daily activity, but can't discuss about certain topics such as politic, science, philosophy, etc. No need to have a feeling that you English level is too low. You just need to familiarize with the topics and increase vocabulary of the topics.
If you have no friends to practice with, it is easy to practice English speaking. You can get friends who also learn English online. There are a lot of people with the same problem. They need partner to practice spoken English. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or other social media. You can make video call with them to practice your English.
3) Practice English Reading
Some of my students and friends told me, “I got a headache after reading one paragraph of English text. I don’t understand what the text about. I know the meaning of each word.” Got a headache…!! Why does it happen on them? "I have mastered English grammar, but..., I have memorized a lot of words, but...?"
I got the same problem for the first time, but I found good strategy to solve it. There are some processes on reading activity: familiarization or recognizing words and structure, comprehending the meaning of entire text, etc. I started with familiarization. It is just to make my eyes familiar with the English text. I just read and bring English book every where, I also post some English text on the wall of my room, etc. No need to thing about the meaning. I focused on familiarization.
To understand what the text about, I read the text with the translation. I bought and rent books in two languages: a book written in my own language and written in English. If you are to lazy to read, you can make fun activity with reading, such as reading song lyric while listening to the song, reading poems, short story, novel, etc.
4) Practice English Writing
Writing is usually the last skill foreign language learners learn. Many people can speak other language, but just few of them who can read and write. I can speak four languages, but I can only read and write well two of them. In this case, writing is not only arranging the words, sentences, and paragraph, but it is about how to make the readers understand what you wrote.
Listening can improve your speaking skill, so does reading activity can also improve your writing skill. You can start with very simple sentence which is only consists of subject and predicate. The writing activities you can do are: rewrite some texts, paraphrasing, dictation, resume, or chatting with foreign friends.
Some English teachers said that by mastering English grammar you can write English well. Based on my experience, it is not true. By mastering English grammar you can only arrange sentences, not presenting your idea in written form. You need to be a greedy readers, then try to write. Make more practices to hone your writing skills. The more you read, the better your writing skill.
Join some English writers community online. There are a lot of website to hone your writing skill such as Bubblews.com, Hubpages.com, etc. You can also practice on Question and Answer website such as Yahoo Answer, Quora, etc. You can get great experience practicing on such websites.
Those are some advice for you who learn English. It is also work for other languages you learn. Try to keep in touch with English. At least you have one activity you do only with English. I read English news and watching English news videos on YouTube.
After all, if you learn English to fulfill any requirements to continue study or to apply jobs, I suggest you to take professional English Classes. Take regular classes in your country. It is different from the English learners who learn English just to be able to use it in social. To continue your study or to work in certain company, there are some requirements you need to master. You need to reach certain level of English.