Teacher tips and tricks for learning English
Learning a language doesn’t always require the help and guidance of a teacher.
One can learn and develop language skills in a variety of ways. Some learners
choose to study on their own with the help of books, audio books, CDs, DVDs,
computer programs and so on, whilst others acquire a language by immersion
- simply living and communicating it in a place where the language is used by
‘picking it up’ over time.
Many students find themselves at a loss on how to improve their English,
especially in the absence of a teacher. The following article will provide you
with a list of 10 tips and tricks (provided by a teacher of the English language
Maltalingua) to keep in mind when learning English through learner autonomy.
1. Learn how to
use a dictionary:
We use a dictionary not only to check how to spell a word and learn its
meaning, but also to understand other aspects of the English Language.
We use a dictionary as a resource material
for words, jargon, vocabulary and pronunciations with phonetic markers.
In fact, after every word, many dictionaries provide the learner with a
phonemic script enclosed in brackets, indicating where the emphasis (or word
stress) should be put, to help students understand how a word should be
pronounced and articulated. Moreover, a dictionary usually integrates all
the suggestions and words in various contexts and different categorises like
whether they are verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs and so on.
2. Derive meaning from context:
Although having a good dictionary as a companion in your language learning,
it is important for a learner to acknowledge the fact that meaning cannot
always be derived from a dictionary. A meaning can also be obtained from its
context. Sometimes it is easier to focus on the context as a whole rather
than simply focusing on just one word within an entire story or text. The
same approach can be taken when watching television (be it current affairs
or a movie) or listening to music.
3. Keep a Vocabulary diary:
A good idea one can adopt to keep track of new words learnt, is to keep a
Vocabulary Diary. This can be like a personal ‘mini dictionary’ where
vocabulary is organised either alphabetically or according to theme/topic.
Of course, one must adopt categorising new words in a way s/he feels is
easily accessible and memorable.
4. Take up a new hobby:
Whether learning a new
instrument or practicing a new sport, activities can be another means of
learning and practising a language. It is important to make sure that the
people practicing this activity use English as a communicative language.
It is essential to include reading in your language learning, because it can
help you understand sentence structure, use of punctuation and above all,
helps you become more proficient in natural English. When reading a text
from an article or book, you are presented with a variety of linguistic
aspects such as linking words, synonyms and new vocabulary.
6. Listen to Music:
This is an enjoyable and relaxing way to practise English, because there is
such a vast choice of music genres to satisfy everyone’s taste. Again, when
listening to the lyrics of a song (as mentioned above), the important thing
is to focus on the overall context rather than the meaning of each and every
word the singer sings in a song.
7. Try out Tandem
Learning alone can sometimes be lonesome, so Tandem Learning is a great way
of learning a language and meeting new people.
The principle of this technique is for two people, who are native speakers
in different languages, to meet in person (face-to-face Tandem) or learn
through correspondence via e-mail, phone or other media (known as eTandem or
distance Tandem). Learning is maintained by various materials and schemes:
work sheets, textbooks or simply informal conversation.
8. Practise Functional Language:
If you are at a café try your best to order a meal and do all the talking
in English. Perhaps a useful suggestion is to have a native speaker give you
important tips and/or phrases to use and also to come with you to give you
feedback and suggestions on whether you made mistakes when putting your
functional language into practice.
or join a blog or social network. One can either keep a daily diary, in
which thoughts and daily activities can be recorded. Alternatively, you can
also join a blog or social network where you can meet new people and
exchange ideas and thoughts with one another in English.
10. Socialise with native speakers:
Maybe this is a slightly obvious
suggestion, but as obvious as it may be, not many make use of it. You
should keep a look out on who has proficient English Language skills and you
can suggest planning activities with them, and ask them to correct you if
you make any mistakes when speaking to them in English. They will probably
be more than willing to help out!