Monday, July 19, 2010

improving your English HOW TO

how do I improve my English ?
Simple: Do two things: 

First:   Take your writing or your speaking: 
identify the ONE key error that you make most of the time. 

Then fix that. Concentrate on it until you have mastered it. Just that ONE thing. 

It may be something simple like: 
  • confusing "is" with "was" 
  • confusing "a" with "the"
  • putting "the" in front of people's names e.g. "The Peter"
  • mixing up plural and singlar e.g.   "He took two apple.... "
  • whatever it is that is YOUR MOST common error.
The most common mistake is the pink half of the pie chart. If you fix that your HALF of all your mistakes are gone.

Second:   Read.

When I say read I don't mean read something so you get better at writing, don't read in the way you do training at a Gym or take medicine. Read what you ENJOY in English.
Read romance, fiction, thriller, detective novels .... it does not matter what you read, but only ONE thing matters: you ENJOY it, really truly enjoy the book.

That is all you need to do. Enjoyment is the best way to learn, anything.

Remember it does NOT matter what you read, (in English) as long as you LIKE it.
Enjoy it.

Question: My problem is I am only interested about the story. I never notice the phrase use, vocab and grammar bla bla bla.

I like reading but I don't know how reading can make better writing?

Answer: It does. It is not obvious HOW that happens. You don't have to take conscious note of the grammar, it just seeps into you, you get it through exposure and repetition... the same reason businesses spend millions, billions of dollars on advertising: it works, not consciously but it works somehow.

So: Reading makes you better at writing.
Not fast, and not in an obvious way.
But you will find that all good writers are great readers.

I used to correct my students English, they would sometimes look at it but usually just say "oh nice, thanks" and file it away.

So from my students I leart to something different:
- I highlight the word, or space between words where the correction is required. but I don't correct it.
I ask the student to correct it herself.

NOTE: the two key elements I use in Teaching: Enjoyment through games and story. Whatever I teach is part of a story. Games create their own interest and enjoyment.


  1. This is an excellent thought provoking post.

  2. I found your site from my cycling site. This seems to me very good advice; I work hard to become a fluent French speaker and will remember this post. Thanks.