Learning English as a Second Language

by multilingualmania on January 9, 2012

in ESL/ELD, Language Learning

English is a tough language to learn. With thousands of immigrants moving into the United States each year, learning to speak English has become a major concern for millions of Americans.

Believe it or not, learning to speak English is more than simply learning to conjugate verbs and memorizing vocabulary. Learning any language is more of a social experience than it is a textbook experience. Here are a few principles you will need in order to learn English (or any other language).

Don’t be afraid to sound silly:

English is a tricky language to pronounce. You will pronounce words wrong. When I was learning Spanish, I remember a friend of mine saying “Somos novios” instead of “Somos nuevos.” He had just said that we were lovers instead of saying we were new. However, the more you speak, the better you will get at speaking it. Having a good sense of humor goes a long way.

Going along with that, don’t be ashamed to ask someone to repeat something or define a word you don’t recognize. Although some people may become frustrated with you, most will appreciate the attempt you’re making to learn the language.

Make friends that speak English:

Those striving to lose weight always do better when they do it with a friend or group of friends. As mentioned before, learning a language is a social experience. If your friends speak your native language, then chances are, you’ll speak your native language with them. If your friends speak English, than you will be forced to speak English around them. Whatever experience you can have with the language will reinforce what you learn.

Fully immerse yourself:

When you watch movies, watch them in English. Change your computer’s language to English. Listen to English pop music. This isn’t to say that you should give up entirely on your native language and culture, but make a fully concerted effort to live, breath, joke, cry, and laugh in English. Your level of commitment to this process will determine your success level

Don’t settle for “What is your name?”:

Some people try to talk only about subjects they are familiar with. I knew a man who lived in the United States for almost twenty years but knew only how to talk about things related to his painting business. Don’t shy away from unfamiliar subjects. You can often talk around words that you don’t know. For example, if you’re talking about soccer and don’t know how to say the word ball, you can say something like, “that thing you kick around on the field.”

Carry a notebook to jot down words you wish to look up later. If necessary, explain that you aren’t very familiar with the vocabulary of a subject and ask them to slow down. Prepare for situations where you know you might hear words you aren’t familiar with. For example, if you are looking for an apartment, you may want to learn words and phrases related to that.

About the Author

Stephen Sharpe has worked for MyCollegesandCareers.com for more than 8 months. My Colleges and Careers is an online database which helps future students find online schools. Through an education, you can acquire your dream job.

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