As the number of Australian immigrants from non-English speaking countries continues to rise, the requirement to speak and write a high standard of English is becoming a more significant part of the Australian migration process.
The IELTS or TOEFL tests which need to be taken to support applications for many Australian Visa classes are for some migrants one of the most difficult hurdles to jump in their journey to life in Australia.
With this in mind, we’ve provided below 13 tips for those of you in the process of learning English as a second language.
How to study English
Read anything and everything in English. You can read story books, newspapers, magazines, blogs, comics, English textbooks, instructions and ingredients on food packages, advertisements, etc. Read aloud for 15 – 20 minutes a day. Research has shown it takes about three months of daily practice to develop strong mouth muscles for speaking a new language.
For story books, don’t force yourself to read something too difficult or something you know you won’t enjoy. Make reading fun! Read books that you ENJOY reading. Remember to choose books that are written according to your level of proficiency. If you are not into literature or novels, it is perfectly alright. If you are interested in astronomy or wildlife; choose books that can feed and augment your knowledge not based on how bombastic the language is but how simply written they are to help you build your vocabulary faster and more effectively. Work or read within your level of reading experience.
Choose topics that help you find out more about what you already know. This way, you will only need to refer to the dictionary for the meaning of words rather than translating them first to your native language. When you are able to understand the meaning of the word without translation, your will to read is empowered.
2. Watch Movies
Watch English movies with subtitles. Not only does this give you the opportunity to have a fun time watching the movie, you’ll also be learning new words at the same time and knowing how to pronounce them! Usually, you can get movies with English subtitles on DVDs.
3. Listen to Music
Listen to English songs. Read the lyrics as you listen to the songs. Listen to your favourite songs and sing along to them.
4. Start a blog
Start a blog in English. This is one way for you to practice your writing. Blog on something that you love. If you are a fan of movies, start a blog and write about your favourite movies, your favourite characters, what you think could be improved in the movie, what new movies to expect next year, etc.
5. Join a community forum
Besides blogging, try joining online forums like ours, engage in online chatting whilst becoming part of a community of likeminded individuals at the same time.
Observe the mouth movements of those who speak English well and try to imitate them. When you are watching television, observe the mouth movements of the speakers. Repeat what they are saying, while imitating the intonation and rhythm of their speech
7. Watch your speed
Slow down: If you speak too quickly, and with the wrong intonation and rhythm, native speakers will have a hard time understanding you. Don’t worry about your listener getting impatient with your slow speech — it is more important that everything you say be understood.
8. Keep a journal
Consider keeping a journal (or diary) and write in it daily. Each entry doesn’t have to be a novel. You can simply write about neutral things like the places you went that day, what you ate, who you met, what you did, etc.
9. Make friends with a dictionary
Be best friends with a good English dictionary. You can use Oxford, Collins, Cambridge, etc. Buy a dictionary that you’re comfortable with and USE it at all times. Keep it next to you when you’re reading, this way, when you stumble upon a word you don’t know, you don’t have to get up and look around for it. (No excuse for not looking the word up)!
They say practice makes perfect so speak English whenever you can. Speak it with friends and family, even the dog! You can also sing along to English songs! Try karaoke! Don’t be shy!
11. A word a day…
Learn a new word a day. Keep your own vocabulary notebook and write a new word and its meaning in it every day. Refer to it as often as possible so that the new words will stick in your head. You can also learn new phrases, idioms or proverbs a day. A kick in the teeth, sit on the fence, make a clean sweep, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, a man’s home is his castle, etc. When you come across a saying that you like, write it down and its meaning in your notebook!
12. Go on a course
If you have extra money to spend, you can even sign up for English courses, English camps and so on. Do your research and seek recommendations from friends.
13. Don’t stress
Learn at your own pace. Make learning English fun. Don’t give up too soon or get discouraged. Don’t get stressed out when it becomes a little difficult.
I hope you find these tips useful. If you have your own wacky or unique way of learning English then please share your tips in our comments below!