If you’re in secondary school, you’re probably aware that your grades in English are very important no matter where you go in Junior College or in Polytechnic. If you’re in either of these institutions, you probably know that you have a lot of reports, presentations, essays, etc to go through that require a strong command of English. If you’ve already graduated and are in the working world or in university, you should also be well aware that English is still going to haunt you.
Indeed, whether it is writing or speaking, expressing oneself is truly an important skill one must learn. In order to do that properly, score good grades, and impress people, you have to have a good grasp of the English language.
So, here are some simple tips and tricks you can use to improve your England without having to splurge on fancy tuition.
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1. Books, books, books.
This is probably the best way to improve your English, as it is not only entertaining, but you also get a chance to peek into another world, or to pick up some other skills too!
Books teach you a lot about language and writing. If you’re really absorbed in a book, or particularly attentive and sensitive to details, you’ll be able to subconsciously pick up the language and learn tips on how to write. Along the way, you’ll be able to pick up new words too, which you can hastily look up on your phone for the definition. Tricky grammar and sentence structures can be learnt too since fiction books typically like to be fancy.
Non-fiction books, if you fancy those, can also teach you various concepts on their bespoke topics, which means you’ll be able to kill two birds with one stone. You’ll be able to impress others with your deep knowledge as well as your newly picked-up eloquent language!
And last, but not least, if you pick the right book, regardless of fact or fiction, you’ll be entertained on those dreary Saturday afternoons and more.
Not a fan of physical books? Too busy to make a run down to the library? Not to worry, technology allows you to be able to either read or listen to books on digital. Let’s start with audiobooks.
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The benefits of audiobooks are boundless.
If you’re doing mindless chores, you can put on an audiobook to entertain yourself at the same time. If you’re feeling tired, an audiobook can automate the process of reading and create the world for you. And finally, it is a very helpful tool in teaching you how to pronounce certain words and speak in a captivating manner.
Audiobooks can be free!
LibriVox is a free online archive full of classic goodies, from Moby Dick to works by Charles Dickens, and even some non-fiction selections. These are all read by people experienced in their craft, which brings the books to life and adds another layer of personality to the text. There are thousands of books to choose from!
Internet Archive, who owns LibriVox, also owns Open Library. As you might’ve guessed, it allows users to access a wide variety of classical and contemporary fictional and non-fictional text.
In either case, you can download your selection and port it to your phones or whichever device suits you so you can easily access your selection, on the go!
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2. Video Tutorials
Again, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you’re able to access this wonderful thing we call YouTube! There, you can find many, many speech tutorials, or tutorials on grammar, and much, much more. But that in itself is a problem. Which ones are the best?
We can’t say for sure, but here are some of our favourites.
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i) Learn English With Benjamin (https://www.youtube.com/user/EnglishBenjamin)
This simple channel has many a small collection of videos where you can learn on both speech and writing, though he focuses more on the former. What really strikes us is the host, Benjamin, who is both engaging and humorous, making the lessons easy to absorb, relaxing, and fun. Of course, the content is also rather useful, so do check him out.
At the same time, we noticed he has a few colleagues, so we checked them out too.
ii) Learn English with Emma (https://www.youtube.com/user/EnglishTeacherEmma)
This channel has a more extensive library of videos, with a greater focus on written English. Here, you’ll find a wide range of videos teaching on all the technical know-how, as well as simple mistakes we all tend to make. The lessons are simple, easy, and lightweight, meaning you’ll be able to learn a lot within a short period of time!
iii) Learn English with EnglishClass101.com (https://www.youtube.com/user/ENGLISHCLASS101/videos)
This channel is packed with extensive lessons on just about anything — from language that applies to specific situations, conversational English, aural training, this channel serves to cover as much ground as possible. If you’re really keen on learning more, you can sign up at their website for free for a variety of features.
There are many, many more scattered informative videos here and there. Give them a watch, compile a playlist, bookmark them. YouTube and your browser can be fully utilised to make your learning easier. And, with the ability to stop a video and come back to it later, you’ll never be hurried or rushed to learn everything right away.
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3. Practice makes perfect.
English isn’t a language you can learn overnight. You’ll need to consistently use it in order to retain what you’ve learnt and caught your mistakes. In Singapore, especially, when we speak, we tend to use Singlish and dialectical shortcuts in our speech, which reflects badly on paper. So, be conscious of how you speak and try to speak more formally as necessary! You’ll be surprised by the changes you’re able to make.
That said, there are other ways to practice too.
You can start a free blog on WordPress on Blogger like many people do. It’ll be a great place to start writing on your own, and to practise your written ability. You’ll also be able to receive feedback from your friends and family. And after a few months of consistent writing, you can feel proud of how much you’ve written, and the progress you’ve made.
Finally, you can download some free worksheets online to hone your skills. On English For Everyone, you have the privilege to choose from a multitude of worksheets on various corners of the English language, on different levels of difficulty. They’re all just a click away. Practise on sheets of paper, or print them out! Once you’re done, the answer sheets are right there for you.
You may also want to try out some fun apps to practice on. Google Play Store has a category wholly dedicated to word games, and so does the Apple App Store. Simply filter your results and you can browse endless options of crossword games, or grammar practices, for free! Most of them are rather similar in functionality, so just pick one that you fancy.
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4. Everything Else
What we’ve listed aren’t just the only ways you can improve your English. You can read blogs, newspapers, comics, or talk to other people on forums, play Scrabble with your friends, tune in to your favourite podcast, and so on. There are so many ways to learn a language that we simply aren’t able to cover them all.
Don’t let us limit you, learning languages is never a rigid exercise and everyone develops their own methods. Go out and explore, try new things, and figure out what works best for you. Whether rote learning is your style, or whether you learn best in practical environments. The biggest tip we have for you is that you have to start now.
You have no excuses. If you’re still reading this, you probably have two things: a keen interest to learn and Internet access. The Internet is a goldmine of opportunities. Our ancestors were more closed off and manage to pave the path for us, our job is to walk in and absorb more knowledge.
And after the English language? Challenge yourself and learn another language! These tips extend to all languages, from German to Spanish to Mandarin Chinese. Learning another language is both satisfying and educational, as it exposes you to another culture and makes you more aware of the world.
We wish you the best of luck in your endeavours! Share with us your own tips and experiences below.